I dream of Italy.
In those dreams, it's autumn - harvest time.
Italy is a country that knows how to celebrate not only with food, but about it. Every village honours ripened ingredients ready for picking with a sagra, a local celebration. Against a backdrop of rolling golden hillsides and stone villas, communal tables are set among slender cypress trees then loaded with the results of the harvest.
At least, that's how it goes in my dreams. In my waking hours, I read books and travel magazines, watch films, and drink the wine: crisp Pinot Grigio, cherried Chianti and silky Barolo. And, of course, I eat the food. This year I even took part in a sagra, of sorts.
The Roman celebration of Cerelia is a harvest festival dedicated to Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture. Each year on Oct. 4, offerings of the first fruits of the harvest and pigs are made to the goddess.
Last week, chefs Rob Belcham and Ted Anderson, of Campagnolo on Main Street, paid a visit to the last Main Street Station farmers' market of the season, and on Thursday, Oct. 4, they hosted a Cerelia dinner using the fruits of the harvest they found there.
We started by raising a glass to the harvest of lively Valdo Prosecco di Valdobbiadene and digging in to a dazzling spread of starters served family style.
A kaleidoscope of Stoney Paradise tomatoes was tossed with fresh basil and olive oil, and landed on the table alongside Campagnolo's house-made salumi - salt-cured chorizo, bresaola, salami and prosciutto.
There was thick-sliced and toasty bruschetta layered with heaps of warm wild mushrooms, then studded with tiny, perfect, sunny-side-up quails' eggs.
Campagnolo's version of Italian classic Vitello tonnato saw the creamy tuna purée layered over whisper-thin prosciutto and served room temperature.
Cubes of cured wild salmon were tumbled with potato, horseradish and watercress; while rich veal shin made it into a decadent agnolotti.
We were only getting started. Creamy risotto flavoured with black butter and sage was adorned with crispy triangles of turkey skin that tasted just like Thanksgiving. It was beautifully paired with pear-and apple-toned Ceretto Blangè Arneis.
Then came the main event: local veal, hung for 20 days, cooked sous vide for 11 hours, chilled then deep fried for caramelization, and served at the table as the most unbelievable, Flintstone-sized double rack of ribs I've seen.
They were as delicious as they were gigantic; it did elicit some laughs to see the dinner guests gnawing on the foot-long ribs.
With them came hawk's wing mushrooms, apples, blood sausage and buttery soft cubes of marrow, plus Campagnola's polenta -homemade with local corn that was shaved, dried, ground down, and sifted - cooked and served with matsutake mushrooms.
Alongside: owner Tom Doughty's own Montagu Cellars Three Barrel Merlot.
We finished with dessert - luscious pine nut and prune tart, dark chocolate budino, coronation grape cheesecake and Tranchero Moscato d'Asti.
It wasn't a meal you can typically order at Campagnolo (some of the dishes are on the dinner menu), but it's a point of pride for the restaurant's chefs to put together special-occasion menus like for a harvest celebration.
As for me, it was like a dream come true.
Campagnolo is at 1020 Main St., Vancouver, 604-484-6018; campagnolorestaurant.ca.