The Chicagolite Goes to Tuscany…Kind OfWhile I have never been to Italy, Ruffino Wines granted my readers and I the rare opportunity to explore the Tuscan region right here in Chicago. Without having to spend money on any type of airfare, Tuscany came to us. Set in the lush gardens of Lincoln Park’s A New Leaf, Ruffino Wines hosted an elegant dinner overflowing with their finest selection of wines. The venue transformed into the region. Towering floral arrangements mimicked the abundant greenery of Tuscany, and the famed regional wine Chianti was poured in abundance.
The evening was a celebration of the Italian lifestyle and culture. We were going to be living La Vita Ruffino. Sprawled across the multi-level space were varying tasting stations with Tuscan dishes created by award-winning chef Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno & Due. As guests wet their palates with Ruffino’s Riserva Ducale Chianti they delighted in the delectable ravioli. Lovers of the classic Pinot Grigio indulged themselves in Ruffino’s Lumina while they devoured the scrumptious Panzanella. As a true celebration to Italian craftsmanship, guests learned the art of building their own delicious carpaccio plate. From the finest meats and cheeses to classic Tuscan dishes, there was certainly an abundance of cuisine.
Dining & Cocktails in a Secret GardenWhile all of this was took place inside the spacious venue, it was when guests entered what I would like to dub the secret garden that really transported guests to Tuscany. While guests were able to dine in any part of the venue of their choosing, nothing creates a better dining experience than allowing the aromas of one’s meal to blend with the fresh open air. As guests mixed and mingled with one another while sipping on their Ruffino wine, in the lush landscape servers paraded about with varying dishes ranging from the sweet to the savory.
Tucked away in the garden was also where master mixologist Jonathan Pogash was creating the most divine cocktails. While showcasing his expertise, glasses began to fill with bright green herbs and cocktails were topped off with the sweet aromas of fruit. He paired the luscious fruits and herbs with Ruffino’s Prosecco and the result was some jaw-droppingly amazing cocktails. With cocktails in hand and food on our plates; our recipe for the perfect evening was almost complete.
The Presence of Great CompanyHowever, there was one ingredient for the perfect evening that I could not forget. That ingredient was the great company that was at this wonderful dinner. At our small table seated in the garden, 10 of us squeezed in and just enjoyed one another’s company. While I’m sure the table was not meant for 10, we simply made it work. Above our creative seating arrangement hung giant lighted globes. Surrounding us were leaves and flowers aplenty. There were many laughs and giggles that I’m sure had to do with the plethora of wine and cocktails. By the end of the night, I’m positive there were well over 20 wine and cocktail glasses scattered about the table. As other party goers tended to themselves, I believe that we were truly living La Vita Ruffino.
While nibbling on Italian cuisine and sipping on fine wine, we were certainly living the good life. This was an especially momentous time for me. This is because it was the first time I was able to meet so many of my readers in person. It was such as joy to watch everyone interact with one another. They told fun stories and I saw the beginnings of friendships. Ruffino Wine helped create the evening that I will never forget.
Like any great evening, we had to end it on a sweet note. Servers came out with Pistachio Gelato accompanied by a dessert wine. I’m glad our evening ended with a sweet treat.
The night concludes and we part ways with our Tuscan paradise. A special thank you to the wonderful team at Ruffino Wines for treating me and my readers to a memorable evening. Also, a huge thank you to my readers who came out and joined me for a great night of fellowship and wine.
As Ruffino Winemaker Gabriele Tacconi once said “Wine and Life…They are as inseparable as the sun and the warmth it brings”. My sentiments exactly, as I will always fondly remember my evening with Ruffino Wines.