Sunday, September 21, 2014

Eating Our Way Through Sicily ~ 2014

Indulge me. Or rather, let me indulge you, dear reader, and share some of the plates we were offered on this recent trip to Sicily. While Palermo would be enough in terms of gastronomic ecstasy, we didn’t stop there. We made our carousel around Sicily and along the way we had some of the most glorious food on earth.

Note: I don’t think of Sicilian food as Italian. It takes its cues from anther muse. There are similarities: pasta, tomatoes, wine, sweets, seafood. But as with all things Sicilian, the interpretation is different. Not necessarily better than on the peninsula, but a thinking about the products and the interplay of ingredients that I have found to be unique in Sicily. Even our lowliest meal, at a fast food cafeteria in Piazza Armerina, the vegetables were to die for. Unfortunately I didn’t photograph them.

Let’s stop talking and start gawking, shall we? First stop, Sambuca di Sicilia.

Feudo di Arancio
This being an education and harvest trip, we came upon Segesta first in the morning. After that, we proceeded to a winery in full-swing with harvest work.

Aperitivi e Spuntini at Feudo Arancio

Dinner followed at a well-known restaurant in Porto Palo di Menfi, Da Vittorio.
Vittorio Brignoli came to Sicily from the north many years ago. He fell in love with a woman, the sea and Sicily. He never went back to Italy.

He is a lively chap. There is no menu (although there is a hefty wine list). “The sea is the menu,” he told our table. And the sea he brought to our table was glorious and incredible.

This was where I had one of many epiphanies about life in Sicily and Italy. Vittorio was talking to a table of four nearby. They were discussing what to eat. Vittoria brought out a pair of lobsters, still alive, one in each hand. It was a scene out of Petronius. Here we were in Europe, in the middle of a financial crisis, talking about whether to eat sea urchin or lobster. The word crisis, I noted to myself, is relative.

One of the best meals we had on the trip and probably one of the best I have had this year. Memorable and worth repeating.In any event, I would go here just to eat. There is a little hotel attached. The prices are swell. The sea is beautiful. Note to self: vacation 2015 at Da Vittorio in Porto Palo di Menfi.

Caponata of Swordfish
Crudo of gambero rosso

Baby octopus fritti
Octopus in sauce

Pasta with Sea Urchin

Roasted fish caught that morning


We were guests of the Zonin family at their Feudo Principi di Butera property. In full harvest, the winemaker, Claudio Galosi, still had time to show us around and have a quick, winemaker's meal with us. Home cooking...

Cauliflower Sformato
Mixed grill
Etna - Linguaglossa
Once we arrived to Mt. Etna we stayed in a quaint little hotel in Linguaglossa, the Shalai Resort. We had been driving that day and when we got to Etna, a rain storm of biblical proportions ensued upon us. We opted for the hotel restaurant, which was a great choice. Their wine list was to die for.

Squash soup
Pasta alla Norma

After Etna, we headed back towards Palermo and stopped one night at Regaleali. I so love this place, as it embodies so much of where modern Sicilian wine was born. Again, home cooking, and the best cannolo I have ever had.


Potato Croquettes
Fried Green Beans
Pasta con Finocchietto e Pangrattato

Sferracavallo - Da Giannό
For our last night, I took us back to where Manuela Laiacona took me last year, to Da Gianno'. Right on the water, no nonsense fish. Fresh as can be. A great way to end a busy week of education and harvest observation in Sicily 2014.

Mussels and Clams

Grilled fish - Gianno's recommendation

Wines we drank? Go HERE...buon appetito!

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