January 8, 2013

Epiphany Party at Cacio e Vino

Vincenzo reads Tomie dePaola's The Legend of Old Befana
(Photos by New York Scugnizzo)
By Giovanni di Napoli

Last night I met up with members of New York City's Sicilian Food, Wine and Travel Group for their first ever Befana/Epiphany Party. We gathered at Cacio e Vino (80 2nd Ave), one of NYC's finer Sicilian restaurants, for a delicious meal and fantastic night on the town. As might be expected, the establishment is a frequent haunt for the group, as well as individual members. We always have a wonderful dining experience there; the food and service are excellent.

After lengthy greetings everyone finally settled in (we nearly filled the entire dining room). Our selfless and hard working organizer Vincent Titone welcomed us by reading Tomie dePaola's The Legend of Old Befana (Harcourt Children's Books), a delightful version of the Befana tale, which helped set the tone for our festive evening. 
First course: Sfincione and stuffed eggplant rolls
Following the toast our feast began. Owner and pastry chef Giusto did a wonderful job putting together a menu for our party. For starters we were treated to some stuffed eggplant rolls and classic Sicilian sfincione, a delicious doughy focaccia topped with onions and tomatoes, with salad on the side. This was soon followed by two delectable pasta dishes: Spaghetti "alla trapanese" with fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic and almonds, and Aneletti "alla palermitana" with beef ragu, peas, eggplant, basil and pecorino cheese. For me, this dish is the quintessential Palermitan comfort food. For our entrée we were served tasty breaded pork skewers and baccala fish balls. Our contorni were roasted potatoes and spinach. Of course, no meal would be complete without dessert: piping hot demitasse and Giusto's incredible pistachio encrusted cannoli.
Second course: Aneletti “alla palermitana” and Spaghetti "alla trapanese”
As the party started to wind down and people began to leave, some of us exchanged gifts. I was pleasantly surprised with a copy of Henry Barbera's Medieval Sicily: The First Absolute State (Legas). I'm an avid fan of medieval history, so Barbera's book looks like it's going to be an interesting read. Old Befana was very thoughtful and generous this year.
Entrée: Pork skewers, baccala fish balls, roasted potatoes and spinach
As always, I was excited to catch-up with some old friends and happy to make some new ones. Everyone was warm and friendly. As the first meetup of the New Year it was the perfect way to celebrate our faith, culture and friendship. Grazie mille Vincent and all members of the Sicilian Food, Wine and Travel Group for another fantastic evening. I'm looking forward to our next bash together.
Cannoli for dessert
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