January 22, 2008

Sicily - Coast to Coast

Sicilian gold!

Escaping from the grey skies of Florence, we took off to Sicily to do research.
In October tour I am doing a west coast Sicily Food Lovers Tour and then a
coast to coast to tour with my Slow Food chef and friend Jasper the week after!

I have spent time on the west coast, and adore it, so this trip was to discover the east coast and hit some of the foodie spots in the south.

We flew in to Catania, to see what is one of Italy's largest outdoor fish markets. OVERWHELMING!

one of the smaller "stands" in the outdoor market in Catania

fresh sea urchins ready for a snack

sicilian carts... yesterday

and today

We spent 2 nights in Catania which was intense, they were getting ready to celebrate Saint Agata, the patron saint of Catania, which meant a party! We got to see some of the preparations, and the city lit up at night for the festival.

Here are some of the market shots from Catania.

small carts and impromptu stands outside the market

butcher's set up in the street too

The boys in the Piazza

Off we headed to Syracuse, but being the Market Maven that I am, I wanted to stay near the market at Ortygia, the tiny penisola connected to Syracuse.

The biggest flavor surprise came in the insalata di arance we had at Trattoria da Mariano.
I have made Sicilian orange and fennel salad , but was not like this!
It was recommended by the owner of the B&B where we stayed as good home style cooking.

Our meal began with a lovely mixed appetizer of caponata, spicy salami, spinach, mushrooms
followed by pasta.

I had pasta with almond sauce, lightly seasoned with cinnamon and served with more toasted ground almonds on the side and aged pecorino cheese to grate.

All of Mariano's food is influenced by his home village in the Iblea mountains.

We followed the pasta with grilled lamb and the fabulous orange salad. Mariano's secret.....is the dressing, what he calls Acqua Pazza; "crazy water".

Mariano's Insalata di Arance with Acqua Pazza
Use a potato peeler to peel 2 large navel oranges.
Roughly cut the oranges into big bite-size pieces.

In a small bowl, prepare the acqua pazza:
Mix 1/4 cup of olive oil with 1/4 cup water and salt to taste.
Pour onto the oranges and sprinkle with chili pepper flakes, chopped parsley and some chopped fresh green onions using both the white and the green part.

Great served with fish or after pork as a palate cleanser!
Sicilian Salsa.

The Diva and Mariano in Castelmonte Gulfi, where he is from. We bumped into him after our BEST MEAL the whole trip!

Once I have digested this trip, I will fill you in on more!

Enjoy the salad. I have already made it and we only just got home.


  1. Judy, your posts always leave me with drool coming down my chin! Oh, that looks like a wonderful trip. I'm not sure which food I wanted to dive into first, but I think it would be the sea urchins! When they are fresh like that there is nothing that compares. What a wonderful post...thank you.

  2. Hey Judy,
    Thanks for placing the IACP banner on your blog. Hope to see you in NOLA.


  3. Another great post, Judy. I have to try the orange salad asap :)

  4. Wow...makes me wish I was born in Italy! I'm intrigued by the pasta with almonds. Sounds like a very interesting combination that I haven't tried before. Please share if you get the recipe!

  5. I wasn't born here either.
    Not Italian heritage either.. but have been here over 25 years now, so more than a want-to-be, more like an almost be default!

    I will post the almonds sauce in the next post!

  6. Hey Judy! I'm glad you had a grea time. We are coming to Italy in June and may be staying at a hotel in Certaldo.

  7. The blood oranges are great aren't they? Love your pictures.Joe