Sunday lunchtime, beautiful day, blue sky, sun, warm weather, Norton Street Italian Festa in Leichhardt. What else could you ask for? Well, maybe a public holiday on Monday, but the end of the Crave festival was good enough.
I met Bonnie and Rubi (her charming dog) on the corner of Marion and Norton Streets, on one end of the festival, right in front of the stage. A lady was singing a song in Italian, which I always thought was originally written in Spanish. There were lots of people (mainly families) and lots of food. As usual, we walked all the way to the end to see what was on offer.
There were stalls selling “convenient” festival food: sausage rolls, piadinas, etc. Some of them not quite Italian (bacon and egg rolls, for example), but others very traditional, like the porchetta (suckling pig) panini.
Of course there was pasta, gnocchi, lasagna, pizza, calzone, risotti… All freshly made and very tempting.
On the sweet side, there were several stalls selling nougat and gingerbread. I had no idea they were traditional sweets in Italy.
And yes! There were cannoli, baba, zuccherati, etc. The kind of sweets that make me want to say “one of each, please”, even if my heart goes crazy after having just one of them.
And it wouldn’t have been a proper Italian festival without Nutella. There were Italian doughnuts with Nutella fondue, Nutella ravioli with Bayley’s foam, Nutella pizzas with roasted hazelnuts and other chocolate spreads (other brand, various ingredients, equally addictive).
I don’t know if the folks in Common Ground Bakery are Italian or not, but their stuff looked really good.
The usual unrelated stalls popped in the festa too: seafood paella and Dutch pancakes. I was surprised not to see a Turkish gozleme stall (or maybe I missed it?).
More unrelated but not that bad: candied nuts and fairy floss. I guess you have to keep the kids interested, huh? As a side note, the candied nuts girls had placed “nutty facts” on their stall that had as main character Mr Peanut, who, as we all know, is not a nut, but a legume.
It was super hot, so most of the “fresh stuff” stalls had big queues: sno-cones, lemonade (2 stalls), orange juice, and ice cream. There was a stall selling watermelon besides the cannoli, which I suspect were the main business of the stallholders. Very clever, I must say.
There was coffee too, but no wine or beer.
Bonnie was hungover from her birthday party and wasn’t sure about what to eat until she saw the perfect meal: chips on a stick. Completely non-Italian, but exactly what she needed.
Her second course were two servings of chicken skewers from Vanilla Room ($2 each), which she shared with Rubi.
I wanted pasta but also dessert. It would have been too many carbs if I had the two, so I had an octopus salad and two briscioli (risotto balls) from Fernando’s Pasta. The salad was ok, the baby octopus were a bit oily but tender and I found the sweet chilli sauce was a very strange choice for dressing that salad. The briscioli were nice, but I prefer arancini.
Octopus salad with sweet chilli sauce from Fernando’s Pasta ($9)
Briscioli (risotto balls) from Fernando’s Pasta ($2 each)
It was not all about the food. There were stalls selling clothes, pillows, toys, etc. There was a playground for the kids and traditional Italian music. Very charming.
I bought a couple of sweets for bringing back home: a Portuguese tart and my beloved ricotta cannolo.
Portuguese tart & ricotta cannolo from Mezzapica ($3 each)
Bonnie suggested having a beer and I agreed. The weather was just perfect for that. But we didn’t find the right place (outdoor sitting, pet friendly), so we settled with gelato. I had a small cup with fruits of the forest and pistachio, she had a cone with panna cotta and hazelnut. Italian gelato in Leichhardt on a sunny Sunday afternoon was indeed very close to perfection.
Fruits of the forest & pistachio gelato ($5)