Glamming It Up (and eating) For a Good Cause

Most of you already know me as a food blogger that is passionate about the wonderful Italian goods at La Bottega. What you probably don't know is that much of my creative energy is also devoted to working with children. As a child and family therapist at a non-profit agency, there is nothing more rewarding to me than having a positive impact on a child's life. When the opportunity to attend a dinner in support of Toy Mountain was brought to my attention, I could see no better way to bring together two of my greatest joys.

Toy Mountain is a charitable initiative in which toys are collected and donated to needy children in time for Christmas. For the past few years, La Bottega and other local businesses (Fernando Cellini Hair Salon, Shopify) have hosted a gala called Winterglam in support of this cause. In addition to giving everyone an opportunity to glam it up in time for the holidays, the event features a silent auction (both live and online) full of amazing prizes (Free colour and hairstyling for a year?? Yes please!) The live auctioneers should be great entertainment as well. One of them is Majic100's morning host Stuntman Stu, an enthusiastic advocate for children who is doing such fantastic work with his "No More Bullies" campaign. And the other? Shopify CPO Harley Finkelstein, who is deeply passionate about his involvement with the Ottawa community. I am fortunate enough to be quite familiar with him! Check out the website ( for more information and to find out how to get your tickets! 


This year, in addition to Winterglam, La Bottega put on a fabulous dinner to support Toy Mountain, and invited guests to enjoy an interactive evening featuring a comfort-food laden Italian menu. Mario Pingue provided an outstanding 4 course meal, with many dishes featuring his sustainable, organic, and delicious meats, and all perfectly paired with fine Italian wines, courtesy of La Bottega's resident wine expert, Larissa Beznaczuk-Smyrnew.  Dinner began with delightful pink bubbly (Jeio) and a tasty spread of Salumeria (cured meats), all sliced fresh right in front of our eyes. The backdrop of the store's fine cheeses was a most appropriate setting for this first course. Mario included some of his best products: prosciutto, capiccolo (which, I learned from Mario following his demonstration on a patient staff member from La Bottega, means top of the neck) and lonza (tenderloin). We also sampled some creamy fresh burrata cheese and La Bottega's famous foccacia (If you haven't tried it, you are seriously missing out). For the second course, we settled into the store's cozy restaurant, where Mario demonstrated how he would prepare the bucatini al Amatriciana- with his prized guanciale, a bacon relative, as well as onions, tomatoes, and dried pepperoncini peppers. And in case that wasn't enough,  we were then treated to a family style feast featuring porchetta (roasted stuffed pork tenderloin), rosemary roasted potatoes, and garlic rapini. Finally, dessert: bruleed zabaglione (Italian custard) with raspberries and roasted chestnuts. It was classic Italian with just enough unique touches.

Luckily, I was paying attention to Mario's Amatriciana lesson because all of us were given the ingredients (even the onion!) and recipe to prepare the dish at the end of the night, along with some other wonderful Pingue products. I can't wait to fill my kitchen with the smells of comfort. Buon Appetito!X