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Offering Italian Getaways in August in Honor of Ferragasto

If you plan to travel to Italy between late July and early September, be sure to check ahead of time to see if the places you desire to visit are open. Ferragasto (Assumption Day) is celebrated August 15 through September 1. Some businesses take off the last half of August, but some choose to close as early as late July and not reopen until early September! Many of us cannot get away for that long, so i Ricchi is offering fun getaways in August for you to escape from your routine and try being Italian for a bit.

We kick off the month with an informative Books Worth Reading with Dr. Ludy Green, Tuesday, August 9 from 5:30-7 pm that will address overcoming domestic violence and human trafficking through economic empowerment.

The following evening, Wednesday, August 10, provides an opportunity for you to savor the wines of Giorgio Colutta on our Piazza at our Under the Friulian Stars Wine Dinner.

We are participating in Restaurant Week once again, Monday-Saturday, August 15-20, and we close out the month with two unique events you should put on your calendar now: Stems + Spritz, Tuesday, August 23 and an Italian Sake Dinner, Tuesday, August 30.

There is also a plan for another Pop-Up Piazza Happy Hour from 5-7 pm–so be watching your email, Facebook and Twitter on those beautiful sunny days.

For more information on all of these events, click here.

Try Luscious Zuppa Inglese at Tuscan Coastal Wine Dinner

The anticipation is mounting for our Tuscan Coastal Wine Dinner this Wednesday, July 20 at 7 pm.  I am serving some of my favorite dishes alongside unique Banfi wines, and we get to eat outdoors on our Piazza under the starry sky!  We are looking so forward to serving you a special dessert Zuppa Inglese (Tuscan trifle) paired with Rosa Regale. If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, buy them now!

When I was living in Cercina and cooking at Trattoria i Ricchi, every Saturday afternoon I would start the process of assembling our version of Zuppa Inglese. It was the first authentic Tuscan dessert I learned to make. Under the patient tutelage of our signore, Maria and Bianca, I learned the secrets to creating this rustic Italian version of the English trifle. This was the mainstay of our dessert list before the famous tira-mi-su became so popular.

Shortly after I mastered this dessert and a few other crostata recipes, I started adding some traditional American desserts to the list.  It wasn’t long before we became known for the likes of pineapple upside down cake, baked rice pudding, orange glazed angel food cake, brownies and jelly rolls. At the time, it might have seemed a little odd to see Florentines driving out to a countryside trattoria to feast on Tuscan grilled specialties and desserts by “L’Americana.”

Cacciucco (Fish Stew) at Wine Dinner Brings Back Memories

Our Under the Tuscan Stars Dinner featuring Banfi wines is coming soon, and I wanted to tell you about the special Cacciucco alla Livornese (fish stew) we will be serving alongside the exclusive ASKA Banfi wine. This special stew takes me back to my younger days living in Italy. My first taste of Cacciucco was not in Livorno, but on the Island of Capraia – a tiny island off the coast of Tuscany. Young and poor, our vacation involved camping out in a tent and fishing for our supper. We befriended an old fisherman who lived on the island and made his living by fishing and Cacciuccoselling his fresh catch to the large, expensive yachts docked at the port. We would accompany him way before dawn when he would set sail to haul in the nets he had laid the evening before. Inevitably, there would be unsightly (yet delicious) types of fish and lobsters that had died in the nets during the night that he could not sell to the wealthy vacationers, so this became the basis for OUR Cacciucco.

Back at the port, he would build a fire behind his little metal hut and begin the process of gradually adding the different kinds of fish to a boiling pot of tomatoes and herbs. Served with toasted bread rubbed with garlic and fiascos of rich Tuscan red wine, this Cacciucco has remained one of my favorite memories. In addition to the original poor man’s version, the ingredients for the one we will serve Wednesday, July 20 at 7 pm include shrimp, lobster, scallops, calamari, tuna, mussels, clams and grouper.  Cacciucco recipe

Cacciucco is similar to other types of fish stew, such as the French bouillabaisse, Greek kakavia, Spanish zarzuela and Portuguese caldeirada. Italian-American fisherman in San Francisco developed Cioppino, using the local Dungeness crab as a variation of the cacciucco recipe. Originally fish soups were made by fishermen with the scraps of fish that they couldn’t manage to sell, because they either didn’t look particularly good, or because they were the worst cuts. In a stew, though, they would develop a lot of nice flavors and feed a ton of people. But if there ever was a poor man food, fish soup is the one.

Get your tickets now to savor this Cacciucco alongside me and other lovers of Italian fare and great wine!  Under the Tuscan Stars menu

July Events Bring Slice of Italian Life to DC

We have an array of events this month, including many free ones, that offer a slice of Italian life or just a place to escape for a while and enjoy great food and drink alongside wonderful conversation.

Our two book-focused events are fast approaching!  Hear whimsical tales of Italian life from Katherine Wilson Wednesday, July 6 from 5:30-7 pm when she discusses her newly released book Only in Naples: Lessons in Food and Famiglia from My Italian Mother-in-Law.  RSVP now!  If you are a grandparent or plan to be one day, join Chef/Owner Christianne Ricchi, Cheryl Harbour, author of Good to Be Grand and Sandra Baer the following Wednesday, July 13 from 5:30-7 pm to engage in conversation about grand parenting.  RSVP here

Don’t miss our Under the Tuscan Stars Wine Dinner, Wednesday, July 20Stars dinner fbk at 7 pm featuring wines from Castello Banfi alongside a savory menu.  Learn about how the climate and location of this vineyard gives the wines a unique flavor.  See the menu and get tickets!

Lastly, enjoy an evening outdoors with our Summer Festival on the Piazza Friday, July 8 from 5-7 pm featuring a free tasting of the Italian street food, piadina, and $6 glasses of Sangiovese.    If cognac and cigars are more your style, mark your calendar for our  Remy 1738 Royal Hour Cognac Tasting & Cigar Smoker, Wednesday, July 27 from 5-7 pm.

Also, be on the lookout for our Pop-Up Piazza Happy Hours that we schedule spontaneously during the Summer based on a sunny day forecast.  Check Facebook, Twitter and your email so you get to take advantage of this time to network with other DC professionals and taste Italian delicacies and specialty cocktails.

We cannot wait to see you this month at one or more of these events, tailored for your enjoyment!  Read more about all these events


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