Sunday, June 30, 2013

Eating My Way Through Sicily (and Rome)

Gioacchino Campanella ~ Buon “quarumaru”
- photo by Manuela Laiacona
This last trip, first through France and then Italy, was one of the most challenging journey’s I have ever had on the wine trail. The little mishap in France set me back more than I knew. Upon returning home, the docs shook their head in amazement that I would carry on through the trip to Sicily, not the easiest part of the world in terms of convenience. But I saw it another way. Many years ago when I got sick in Greece, I had only one thought, and that was to get to Italy as soon as possible and get healed, which I did. So I set my course for Sicily in hope of a healing journey.

What made it possible, in no small part, was the food. Sicilians eat pretty much like I do, with some small exceptions. One meal (not pictured here) was all vegetables and it came at a much needed time. The jolt my body took really scrunched my insides. No amount of natural wine was going to set the sails straight and get things moving the way they normally do on HMS Cevola.

Walking was a major part of my rehab, for sitting and sleeping were painful and at times impossible. But moving the parts and pieces, a piedi, kept everything in motion. I love to roam the streets with my camera, and Palermo and I are old friends when it comes to walking the streets. One funny story: I was walking aimlessly, and saw a caffe’. Walking past it I wondered why I didn’t stop. I saw another and passed by it too. I wasn’t drinking coffee. But I needed human interaction. Finally I came to this caffe’. I walked in an ordered a spremuta di arancio (fresh orange juice). Sitting there drinking it, slowly, I recognized a picture on the wall. It was of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, looking old and tired and deep in thought. It was then I realized I had come to one of his old haunts, in fact one of the places he would come to in the morning to drink coffee and write his manuscript, Gattopardo. Finishing my drink I sat outside and made some notes. A young man approached me trying to sell me pens. Odd, I thought, that he would be trying to sell me pens. In reality he was probably a crack-head or a tweeker looking for money for drugs. I gave him a euro and declined the offer of a pen. If Giuseppe were alive today (he died at 60), he would probably be writing on a laptop. But the irony of the situation didn’t go unnoticed by me.

Ok, food, really, this time.

We have Palermo food, both osteria, street and coastal. We have inner Sicily country food, made by young women, much like the women do in my family. We have fancy resort food, a little more modern, but with really bright flavors and good end results. And lastly, there is an amazing meal (one of the best on the trip) I had with friends Hande and Theodor Leimer in Rome at Cesare al Casaletto, which many cognoscenti think is one of the best examples of non-touristic trattorie in Rome. For my part, I know it will be a place I hope to return to many times, I loved everything about it, even the stinky, orange jug wine.

So, once again, too many words followed by more than enough images. I wish to thank Manuela Laiacona for showing me her secret Palermo, as well as all the kind folks along the trail. While the food didn’t “heal” me completely, I am sure it (and the wine) made it possible for me to complete this arduous journey and get home safe and sound. Grazie mille, tutti.

Palermo Centro Storico - Osteria dei Vespri

Alberto Rizzo in front of his venerable establishment

lingua di manzo uova di quaglia e tortino di Musso

Vellutata di seppia al nero con profumo d’alloro ed i suoi
raviolini al pomodoro , piselli, patate e zafferano
Cozze ripiene, gratinate con Parmigiano, su vellutata di lenticchie al finocchietto e zafferano
(photo provided by Osteria dei Vespri and Trip Advisor)

Tagliolini neri alle triglie, zenzero e salsa di cipolla rossa

Insalatina with bottarga, capers, carne and a white sauce

Delicate Mille-feuille with fresh apricots, vanilla gelato and mint infused apples

Palermo - Street Food

Gioacchino Campanella setting up, as he has for 30 years

The legendary "Zio Toto" and his thirst quenching mandarini verdi
di Sicilia drink from one of the last chioschi Palermitani

Gioacchino Campanella slicing tongue for a family meal

Gioacchino Campanella squeezing lemon on a plate of nerves,hoofs, breasts,tongue,etc...

Ignazio making arancini at Da Mimi

potato and parsley croquettes and panelle (fried chickpea polenta)

Caponata made by the mother of Gaetano (Da Mimi)

sfincione from Da Mimi

night street food vendor at La Vucciria market

Sferracavallo - Da Giannό

Menu and tablecloth are one and the same at Da Giannό

Some of the freshest and most flavorful seafood I have ever eaten

Corrado Maurigi, the secret weapon of
Regaleali pouring some D'Almerita Rosé

Potato croquettes alla Tasca

Panelle alle Tasca

String Beans alla Tasca

Eggplant Parmigiana alla Tasca

Cannolo alla Tasca

Just the most wonderful thing in the world - Frittata from the hens outside my room

Chiaramonte Gulfi - Locanda Gulfi

Locanda Gulfi

Fresh pea soup with roasted asparagus and burrata

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana alle Gulfi

Secondo - Roast with polenta

Chocolate trio - with an homage to Etna with a lava cup

Cesare al Casaletto - Roma

Leonardo Vignoli pouring
Sfuso 12 from Corrado Dottori

polpette di melanzane

polpette di bollito

Fresh sardines, fried

Fried calamari, done right

Fettuccine cozze e pecorino

Rigatoni con la Pajata

Wines to come, later...

Regaleali - wild fox enjoying a snack of  potato croquettes

written and photographed (unless otherwise noted) by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W


Natalie said...

WOW! I want it all! But somehow that pea soup + burrata really caught my attention.

Charlie said...

I'm crying here as I book my flight back to Sicily -- so hungry right now!

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