Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ferragosto in Seattle

Ferragosto is Italy's big mid-summer festival, a combination of the Fourth of July and Labor Day. The actual date is always August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption, and big celebrations are held in seaside towns where vacationing Italians gather to listen to music and watch fireworks on the beach. (Far more civilized than Seafair.) The tradition predates Christianity; the festival was named for Augusto, the Roman emperor. Adding to the festivities, Ferragosto is almost always the week of the Perseid meteor shower, so the main celebration is often called "The Night of the Stars."

(In other countries, in other cultures, Assumption is known as Maria Himmelfahrt, la Fête de l'Assomption or Asunción de la Virgen. In Italy, it's known simply as Ferragosto.)

Two big events in Seattle this year. The oldtimer is Osteria La Spiga on Capitol Hill,which launched the local version of Ferragosto three summers ago. Their solution to the scheduling issue (a scant three weeks after Capitol Hill Block Party, a week after Seafair) is now to call the thing "12th Avenue Neighborhood Festival." It will be the second year for this formula, which includes $5 bites from a dozen or more restaurants along 12th.

The Ferragosto newcomer is Enza Cucina Siciliana (where, yes, I occasionally serve as maitre d' and sommelier) on Queen Anne. "Mamma Enza" Sorrentino, whose extended family also operates restaurants in Magnolia and Belltown, will prepare a seven-course "Night of the Stars" dinner on Sunday, Aug. 14th, and I'll be on hand to pour matching wines.

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