I’ve always been in love with Italian food. Until I went to Sicily…
The moment I landed in Sicily I knew I found my achilles heel in regards to food. Wow! All my favourite things in one place…
The first time I visited Italy my hubby took me to Rome as a surprise birthday present. The trip was awesome, but we didn’t understand the Italian way of eating. We thought we’d go to Italy and eat tonnes and tonnes of pasta and it will all be great. We were so wrong!
It wasn’t until after we spoke to some locals that we realised that pasta is not consumed as a main meal, but as a course as part of a main meal. It was little wonder that the pasta portions in Rome was so tiny (and super expensive!).
This is not the case for Sicily though. They still follow the same tradition of Aperitivo (fries, bread, olives with something to drink), Antipasti (cold cuts and cheeses), Primo piatto (starches), Secondi (meat or fish dish with a vegetable side), Frutta (fruit and sometimes cheese), Dolce (dessert), Caffe (coffee, like espresso) and lastly Digestivo (limoncello) but the portions are enormous and it really is affordable.
The following dishes had been consumed either by me or one of my colleagues during our trip to Sicily:
This is something we needed to get our head around. Every time we went to have a meal out we were showered with fries as soon as we sat down. The kids filled up on these and then didn’t have space to eat their (most delectable) pizzas. But nevertheless the memories of these fries will stay with me for a long time as they were so moreish.
The most delicious antipasti we had was during the last night of our visit. We went to a restaurant named Baglio Siciliana Antica in Cattolica Eraclea near Agrigento. I was blown away by the sheer size of this second course into the dinner (after the awesome fries). Each slice of meat and cheese has been carefully arranged and the olives in the middle was truly delicious. Since I am very allergic to, amongst other things, fish and shellfish I opted for their meat feast, however, I have never before been so gutted that I cannot eat the sweet fruits of the sea as particularly that evening. You’ll see in the photo’s why that is…
En route to the airport I didn’t feel very hungry so only had an antipasti of tomato bruschetta for lunch. Even a simple dish like that packed an enormous flavour punch.
There is just something very comforting about arancini. Whether it is the flavoursome rice or the oozing cheesiness or the combination of the two, I’ll never be able to put my finger on. What I do know is that since I’ve tasted this delightful delicacy in Sicily, it will be hard to appreciate the tiny, bland droplets that some high street restaurants have on offer.
What struck me most about the arancini in Sicily was that there were only two flavours, vegetable or meat. For easy identification the vegetable arancini comes shaped like a pear and the meat version is round. I loved how this was available literally in any cafe, restaurant or roadside shop as a snack on the go.
Read Pea and Mint Risotto for my version of arancini.
I can eat pasta everyday. Especially when it has a different shape other than the mundane spaghetti or macaroni. I really like interesting pasta shapes and if you get the sauce just right it can turn a mediocre dish into something that is to be remembered.
Whilst on this trip we had several memorable pasta dishes. Most of which I didn’t photograph, but will forever be etched into my foodie memory.
Whilst staying at the hotel, each meal started with a round of pasta. We had a fresh spaghetti with a traditional basil pesto, busiate with a garlic and walnut pesto or a lighter than air gnocchi with a creamy tomato sauce.
The most memorable pasta dishes has to be that of Baglio Sicilia Antica. As mentioned above, we ate our last meal of the trip here. The third course into the meal and I couldn’t finish the enormous portion so I asked for a doggy bag – wow.
On the first night at our hotel we were all baffled when the menu was placed on the table and the main course said Breaded Cutlet with Potatoes. This could mean anything. We speculated that it might be chicken, but much to our surprise it was actually pork. Like a schnitzel, only smaller. And the potatoes? Sautéed with rosemary. I wish I had the recipe!
Every hotel meal after that night was pork; either deep-fried or with a pistachio crumb. Still very, very delicious, but I was glad that we had the restaurant meals to break it up a bit.
Talk about restaurant meals… The Secondi course at Baglio was delicious! For me it was meat, sausages and more meat. Oh and a rocket salad with lashings of parmesan. For my colleagues it was prawns and swordfish and even more fish. I wasn’t entirely sure what type, but it looked amazing. It did make me long for the days I could eat prawns without swelling and gasping for air…
Find my Mediterranean Chicken recipe here.
Not the kind that has a perfectly rounded crust with processed, grated ‘mozzarella’.
This is something totally on a whole other level. The crust is thin and crisp. The char speaks of a chef that has years of experience and expertly know how long to leave his masterpiece in the wood-fired oven. Perfectly executed. So much so that I will no longer willingly eat a bog-standard take away pizza – it is not worth the calories…
Surely this is what heaven will taste like! I’m not one for stodgy pastries. I dislike pie crusts, those butter and biscuit crusts that ruins a great cheesecake and don’t even get me started on crumble either, but this I love.
The feel of the bubbles on the outside promises a taste explosion. The snap of the crispy shell is like an anticipating drumroll before the creamy, rich ricotta dances it sweet, sweet dance over your tongue followed by the hidden surprise of chocolate chips and the sprinkle of crushed pistachios which gives the final flavour punch before the next bite eagerly awaits to tango around your tastebuds all over again. Totally worth every single calorie!
My most favourite local cannoli has to be that from Mercato Metropolitano (picture on the right).
During our visit to Mount Etna’s volcano we happen to be taken by our guide to a local honey vendor. This was truly an experience in itself as we tasted the different honeys from the local beekeepers in Zafferana. The flavours ranged from orange blossom, peach and fig to wildflower. There was even a range of local nut butters (mainly almond, hazelnut and pistachio) that were a far cry from the mass produced, palm oil laced, crunchy peanut butter that adorns our supermarket shelves here in the UK.
Are you a foodie? Did you have any foodie experiences recently? Let me know in the comments!