Friday, June 21, 2013

Sicily 2013: Palermo "Full Immersion"

Il Genio di Palermo
If you are reading this then you know I made it to Sicily from France. From the dark, rainy cold of Bordeaux to the sunny, warmth of Sicily. An immersion of sorts, starting in Palermo.

The plan was to meet up with Manuela Laiacona, native Palermitan and a wine journalist and editor at and the girlfriend of my Calabrese friend Giovanni Gagliardi. Manuela agreed to meet up and show me her Palermo. Manuela is my spirit guide incarnate. I really feel she has taken a life form to usher me though this time and place and I am very grateful for this. Her companion Giovanni is a wonderful fellow - this is all because of the internet and the blog- who cares about monetizing your blog when you can have the possibility to make deep and meaningful friendships?

We started at the Osteria dei Vespri in Piazza Croce dei Vespri in the old center (centro storico) of Palermo. This is an area I have been to many times, because my family lived nearby (2 blocks away) so even if I don’t remember everything exactly, my DNA remembers something of the spirit of this place.

We sat outside seeing as it was not too warm, but there was that wonderful muggy quality I remember so well about Palermo, reminding me of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria. The home of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa was right here. We were in an historic place, for the story has it that this piazza is where some of the French who died in the War of the Sicilian Vespers are buried. There is a small column topped with an aging iron cross to mark the spot. Books, operas, all sorts of artist endeavors have been undertaken to cover the story. Tonight we were here to eat and drink at the Osteria and meet Alberto Rizzo. This is a serious group here – the wine being as important as the food and the service reflected that level of commitment – something that heals my heart. One could learn from the wine list here - this is a classic enoteca (see picture) and I could spend days here. Someone, somewhere gets it (of course they do, as do so many all around the world do, now).

Alberto has the passion of two people (interview here), and is wine list and the food accompanying these wines is a pilgrimage one must make when coming to Palermo. I have many pictures to share, and will let those images do the talking. I was just glad to be among my tribe in this moment.

The first wine, a metodo classico of Nerello Mascalese from Murgo
#2 wine: Carricante from Benanti
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)

lingua di manzo uova di quaglia e tortino di Musso

Natural wine alert: Nino Barraco (from Marsala) Grillo in purezza senza solfiti
Tagliolini neri alle triglie, zenzero e salsa di cipolla rossa
Insalatina with bottarga, capers, carne and a white sauce
Diverting from Sicily with a Gewurztraminer from Alto Adige

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

If servers in America knew Italian wine like
our shy one they'd all be master sommeliers

Sicily seems so foreboding to the outsider. I often hesitate to enter this land. It is another world, really another reality. But something inside the core of my being understands this and goes with it. I am so glad I came here. I hope to share more with you. Right now I am in the minestrone and cannot jump out and see so objectively. This is, after all, full immersion, and we’re just beginning.

La Vucciria entrance - 1971
Same entrance to La Vucciria - 2013

If you are still with me I leave you with a video of the wandering musicians who stopped by for some musical education ( a little lecture) and a lively rendition of an old Sicilian folk song, "Ciuri Ciuri."

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