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I kept bumping into Erica and her parents at the market.

We do have great markets in Rome but the market in Ortigia is on another level.  I think it’s because the food doesn’t have far to travel.  The freshness and variety is unreal.

I’m still going on and on to Erica about the peaches I had.  I’m sure she’s tired of hearing about them.

I didn’t buy any fish but I did eat my share from the market.  I’m still talking about that too.

A MUST is the shop, Fratelli Burgio, located near the end of the market closest to the sea.  It gets very crowded so be patient.  I hear they have fantastic sandwiches and aperitivi.   The line for sandwiches was long and there was only one person behind the counter.  Poor guy.

I bought some Pachino sun dried tomatoes in olive oil there.  At thirty-two euros a kilo they were not cheap but were worth every single euro.

A bowl of said tomatoes.  Pachino tomatoes are grown only on the Southeastern coast of Sicily.

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The fishmongers were quite lively (and flirty).  I was too shy to snap a photo of the very attractive gentleman who called me Ms. New York.

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Baked ricotta cheese at Fratelli Burgio.

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 Photos: Me with my iPhone

 

You can see and taste the Greek, Spanish, and North African influences in Sicilian cuisine.

The rich agricultural diversity of the island (the interior landscape is completely different from the coast) has also played a role in making this cuisine so unique (and delicious).

A separate post will be written about the Ortigia Farmers Market.

Some of my favorite Sicilian foods/dishes are:

Arancini – Rice balls fried with either a ragu sauce inside or eggplant (and sometimes both).

Capers – Picked by hand, these small flowers buds can be quite pricey outside of Italy.

Caponata – An eggplant dish usually served as an antipasta.  Every region of the island has their own way of making it.  I heard it takes a long time to cook.  Maybe I can convince my friend Gina to make it in Rome.

Couscous al pesce – Couscous with fish.

Fish -  It’s usually prepared simply.  No need for extravagant sauces and spices when the food is so fresh.  Anchovies, Vongole, Sea Urchins, Swordfish, Amberjack, Grouper,  Tuna, Sardines, and Sea Bream are some of the local fish you will find in Sicily.

Granita –  Nobody does it better than Sicily.  Nobody.

Pasta alla Norma – Originally from the city of Catania, this pasta dish is made with lightly fried eggplant, grated ricotta salata, and basil.  I’ve never made this dish.  I think it’s time to try it.

Pasta con Sarde – Pasta with sardines. Usually has pine nuts, fennel, and raisins.

Sicilian Bread – Yes, it is different from the bread on the mainland.  It has a golden color thanks to the durum semolina flour used from locally grown wheat.

Sfincione –  A pizza type dish.  The dough is thicker and airier.

Wine - There is a lot of excitement about Sicilian wines and their talented producers.  I usually drink Piemontese, French, (and a few Lazio ones when making Roman dishes) wines at home but I’m learning more about this region thanks to my knowledgeable friends.  I really enjoy wines from the Mt. Etna area.

I know this sounds outrageous but I’m not a big cannoli fan.  Meanwhile my partner on this series, Erica, was on a mission to try every single cannolo and cassatina in the neighborhood.

 

Pasta alla Norma.  So good.

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Little cassata cakes.  AKA cassatiini.

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I never had a Rosé from Mt. Etna before.   The waitress at Clandestino recommended it.  It was very good.

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Pasta with swordfish, vongole, and cherry tomatoes.

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Sigh.

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A white wine from Agrigento.  The owner of a little shop on Via Savoia (n. 2) recommended it after I told him I was invited to a lunch featuring risotto with shrimp.  It was a big hit.  I went back to buy another bottle.  I hope there’s a shop in Rome that sells it.

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One of my favorite things about late spring and summer is drinking homemade iced tea with lemon granita (tè fatto in casa con limone granita).  It’s like an Italian Arnold Palmer.

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Photos: Me and my iPhone

 Of course now I’m starving.  What are some of your favorites?

This Thanksgiving I went to Sicily.  It was my first trip to the main island and I stayed at the incredible Monaci delle Terre Nere.

On my last day, I had this for lunch.

IMG_4779When you have a dish with so few ingredients, they better be of the freshest and highest quality ingredients.  There are no sauces or foam to mask bad food.

While this dish was simple, the flavors were not.  The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and the tomatoes had that killer combo of acidity and sweetness that you cannot find in out of season tomatoes at a mega supermarket.

We eat with our eyes as well.  I really appreciated the presentation.  It’s Stylish Simplicity.

When I was growing up in the States, rosé had a reputation for being a second rate wine.  I don’t know why that is.

However, in St. Martin (the half French, half Dutch island) I noticed it everywhere, restaurants (including upscale ones), beach bars, house parties, etc.

Once my parents moved back to the island, my siblings and I started to spend more time there.   My sister, Daniella, LOVES rosé and would insist on stopping by a wine shop to stock up for our stay.

Now, thanks to Daniella, I am a big fan of getting my rosé on the minute the warm weather arrives.

Certain words and images come to mind when I drink rosé: summer, family, friends, good food, beaches, the Caribbean, outdoor seating in my favorite piazza, France, Sicily, parties, pink.

Some rosés at the fantastic wine shop, Comptoir France, in Rome,

Some rosés at a fantastic wine shop, Comptoir France, in Rome.

Here’s a write up about rosé from The Kitchn.

Buon weekend a tutti!

Okay, the recipe below is simple but what makes it stylish?  To me, its simplicity!

The summer heat has finally arrived and the last thing I want to do is to be in the kitchen making complicated things.

When I’m at the market and see the huge Amalfi lemons, I must make this lemonade and add a sprig of mint.

Italian-Lemon-GrovesPhoto: Exsus

Homemade Lemonade

1 ¾ white sugar
8 cups water
1 ½ cup lemon juice (about 10 lemons)

In a small saucepan combine sugar with 1 cup of the water. Bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool to room temperature then refrigerate until chilled.

Put the lemons in hot water for 10 minutes then roll to loosen up the juice.

Remove seeds from lemons (leave in as much or as little pulp as you like). Squeeze the lemons in a pitcher, added the chilled sugar syrup and then 7 cups cold water.

Enjoy!

It took me forever to get to Salina.

I took a car (at 5:00 a.m.) to the airport to fly to Palermo, a taxi from the Palermo airport to the central train station, the train from Palermo to Milazzo, a ferry from Milazzo to Lipari, a ferry from Lipari to Salina.

Once I arrived, I understood why so many of my Italian friends schlep from Rome, Milan, etc. to visit the Aeolian islands.  Stunning.

Salina is surprisingly green for a volcanic island, tiny (population 2,000), and there was a constant breeze.  The food was delicious and folks knew how to make a very good cocktail.

It was my first trip to any island in Italy.  That’s bananas.  I’m an island person.  I was born on the island of Manhattan and my parents are from St. Martin.

I cannot wait to return.

psfilicudi

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