Vacation. Family. Beach and Eating.
These are my buzzwords for Ferragosto, one of my favorite Italian holidays that has always held a special place in my heart. Every year, the whole country of Italy takes off August 15th and heads to the beach, the mountains or just relaxes and enjoys a good meal.
Being completely unknown outside of Italy (and Italian-Switzerland), you must be asking yourself what IS Ferragosto?! So here is a brief history to bring you up to speed.
The word comes from the latin Feriae Augusti meaning “the holidays of Augustus”, referring to the emperor himself. It was set up as a holiday to celebrate the end of the harvest which was marked by a relief from extreme physical labor that comes with agricultural life. Eventually, Ferragosto was extended to take up most of the month. It wasn’t until the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini that people began planning longer vacation trips during the Mid-August holiday. This acted as a way for Mussolini to push members of higher society to take trips to other Italian cities or visit seaside resorts.
With globalization the world has experienced some great advances, but it has a caused a shrinkage of the holiday to keep up with competing economies around the world (although us Italians still like taking a nice long holiday in August if we can manage!) who don’t take the whole month off.
But to me, the holiday is much more than its history and trying to compete with rival, world economies. To me it represents a mandated summer day to spend with family and go to the beach. You see all your friends out doing the same thing, and it represents Italy to its core. Italians do things the way that we want, and for this reason, I know that
While it is harder to continue this tradition living in the US (I don’t think my doctor with give me a note for being “Too Italian” to bring into work for missing the day), my girlfriend and I have made a pact to do something special to keep this special day relevant and as a sign of our “Italianness”.
So, take my advice, and try Ferragosto out for yourself. There isn’t a bad thing about it and you definitely won’t regret it!
If you want to celebrate Ferragosto with me, come down to Via Umbria for a Ferragosto-themed movie night. We’ll be watching the classic film Il Sorpasso while enjoying a delicious mid-August pasta dinner.
Celebrating on August 15th
Vacation. Family. Beach and Eating.
These are my buzzwords for Ferragosto, one of my favorite Italian holidays that has always held a ...
The holidays are here! Are you ready? Stressed about entertaining so many friends and relatives at your home? Well stop! There are so many easy ways to keep people happy, and to be able to spend time with them rather than finding yourself working double-time in the kitchen while everyones off caroling (though, personally, I’d rather be in the kitchen than subjecting others to my singing). Cheese is such a good way to spread some holiday happiness, get people an easy appetizer, and to keep yourself happy while you’re watching your rib roast cook away in the oven. I’ll be honest: there isn’t any cheese that doesn’t go with the holidays, but there are a few recommendations that I have that are exceptional this time of here.
Cheese is such a good way to spread some holiday happiness
The first, and most traditional, is stilton. Here at Via Umbria, we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a whole wheel of it from Neal’s Yard Dairy in London. We carry cheeses from our favorite affineurs across the pond year but the stilton that we buy for Christmas is my favorite part of this relationship. Stilton has been a part of English Christmas tradition for a long time. As such it pairs with so many of the foods that we eat, from spiced nuts to the big beef itself. Neal’s Yard’s stilton is made by one of the smallest producers: Colston Bassett, a co-op in Nottinghamshire where they take care to do everything by hand (something you won’t find at the factory that makes the stilton you’re buying at the supermarket).
I also really like the L’Amuse signature gouda for this time of year. It’s a cheese we are fortunate to have on hand year round, but when the days get shorter and colder, the cheese really stands out. This good gouda is not something soft and flabby, that requires smoke to mask it’s flavor. This gouda, traditionally made in the Netherlands, is colored with anatto and aged for over two years. If you ever hear someone talk about crystallization in cheese, this is the prime example, as it’s age makes almost crunchy. It’s flavor is an intense caramel that warms the soul – and pairs with some of your seasonal beers – the stouts and porters that good brewers release for the colder days.
My final cheese recommendation for the holidays is also the easiest to recommend, since it is only released this time of year: the Rush Creek Reserve. This is one of those now-trendy cheeses with washed rinds that are wrapped in spruce bark. But they’re trendy for a reason (they’re delicious) and they are perfect for entertaining. To eat them you slice off the top and open up to reveal a cheese so soft it’s ready for dipping. Of all these cheeses though, Rush Creek is the best. It’s producer: Uplands Cheese Company of Dodgeville, Wisconsin makes only two cheeses with their small herd. This cheese is made with milk that is produced in the autumn, when the cow’s diet has switched from the fresh summer grass to hay. It’s made with raw milk, making the beefy, brothy flavor so much more intense. It’s so good and honestly, hard to find and sells quickly (I’m not kidding people go crazy for this). If you’re entertaining for the holidays this is the cheese to get.
Stressed about entertaining friends and relatives at your home?
The holidays are here! Are you ready? Stressed about entertaining so many friends and relatives at your home? Well stop! There are ...
Each year, during the col-drums of February, the harsh winter seems to melt away as people celebrate Valentine’s Day, the holiday synonymous with romance. Although there are several theories on the origin of the holiday, it has been adopted in many countries across the world as a way to celebrate love among couples, friends, and family.
Italians are typically considered to be lovers, but the celebration of Valentine’s Day in Italy is actually an American import. Known as “La Festa degli Innamorati” it is typically only celebrated between lovers and sweethearts.
This Valentine’s Day Via Umbria is combining the American and Italian traditions with our Sweetheart Suppers being held on two nights – Saturday, February 13 and Sunday, February 14. If you don’t look forward to the annual Valentine’s Day chaotic restaurant experience, or if the thought of cooking a meal for two has you hiding in bed with the blankets over your head, take the stress out of romance and enjoy dinner at a cozy table for two in Via Umbria’s laboratorio demonstration kitchen where every table is a chef’s table. But it’s not all cupid and hearts around here; if you’re looking for a unique spot for ladies’ night out or a group date with friends to celebrate the occasion, book a seat at the communal table to enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, conversation, and wonderful Italian food.
Each evening features four courses of delicious Umbrian dishes, including appetizers, wine pairings, and a decadent chocolate dessert. And don’t forget, dinners in our laboratorio are more than just great food: our open kitchen format allows you to watch your meal as it’s created, and you can interact with the Chef. We promise it will be an unforgettable evening!
What: Sweetheart Supper
Where: in the Laboratorio (demo kitchen) at Via Umbria
When: Saturday, February 13, at 7:30pm or Sunday, February 14, at 7:30pm
For more information or to book your reservation visit us online or call us at (202) 333-3904.
We're taking Valentine's Day reservations
Each year, during the col-drums of February, the harsh winter seems to melt away as people celebrate Valentine’s Day, the holiday synonymous ...
Celebrating our Liquor License!
With the arrival of our liquor license, we can now host events in our upstairs labratorio and Galleria! So we kicked off our events ...