Radicchio is a perennial form of leaf chicory commonly used in Italian cuisine. It usually has white-veined red leaves forming a head, although there are several varieties, including green and mixed green and red.
It has a bitter and spicy taste that mellows if it is grilled or roasted.
If you're a fan of radicchio, you might consider attending Festa del Radicchio, which runs Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Caruso Club.
“It's got its own taste,” said Leo Silvesti of the Associazione Veneta di Sudbury, which puts on the yearly festival. “You either like it or you don't like it because it's bitter.”
Associazione Veneta di Sudbury, which has about 100 members, is a subsidiary club of the Caruso Club that celebrates the culture of the Veneto region in the northeast of Italy.
Radicchio is a commonly used ingredient in the region, said Silvestri, who grows several varieties of radicchio in the backyard of his South End home.
He said it can be eaten in salads, and also grilled or used in dishes such as risotto.
“It goes with anything,” said Silvestri, who originally comes from a small community located 30 kilometres from Venice called Castello Di Godego. “Now there is so many ways to make it.”
A centrepoint of Festa del Radicchio is the radicchio judging contest. So if you're a keen gardener and grew some radicchio this year, you're invited to enter it into the contest.
The event also includes a five-course traditional Veneto meal (finishing up with luscious Italian pastries from Regency Bakery) and live accordion music by Nino di Pascqua.
Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $60 per person. Phone Silvestri at 705-522-4631 or the Caruso Club at 705-675-1357.