|June 13, 2013 10:00 am||to||June 16, 2013 12:00 pm|
Granita is a frozen dessert made with water and a syrup base, much like sherbet. It’s origins date back to the Arab domination in Sicily which has left so much to the island in spite of its relatively short period (827-1091 AD).
In the past the granita was a privilege only for the rich and aristocratic families as it was made using the snow gathered on Mount Etna and on the Peloritani and Nebrodi mountains, then stored in natural caves and extracted during the summer.
Acireale celebrates this frozen dessert with its own festival from June 13 through 16. For more details and program, please visit www.anivarata.it (ITALIAN).
Photo © Franca Calderone
|May 17, 2013 10:00 am||to||May 19, 2013 7:00 pm|
The Mediterranean diet – declared by UNESCO “Intangible Cultural Heritage” in 2010, is the protagonist of a cultural project created by some Sicilian students. The Rassegna Vino & Olio (Wine & Oil Festival) organized by the students of the P. Mattarella-D. Dolci Institute in Alcamo has the purpose of promoting the Sicilian culinary tradition.
Students, public institutions, wine and oil producers are all working together to promote local products and sustain economic development. Three days of exhibitions, music, sport and culture starting on Friday, May 17 at 10:00 AM with the conference - The typicality of the Sicilian territory and the Mediterranean Diet - at the Marconi Congress Center (free entrance). Friday and Saturday at 6:00 PM (and Sunday starting at 10:00 AM) everyone is invited to the trade show in Alcamo’s gorgeous Piazza Ciullo, the heart of the town’s historic center. Local producers offer tastings of traditional food, olive oils and wines.
“The Mediterranean diet” says Sebastiano Bonventre, mayor of Alcamo “must not simply be considered nutrition, but a lifestyle”. It is a combination of habits, knowledge and traditions that go from the countryside to the table.
Sicilian food follows the Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by olive oil as the dominant fat source and a high to moderate consumption of fruit and vegetables, grains, legumes and fish in combination with small amounts of meat and – of course – wine with meals. Studies confirm the positive health effects of the Mediterranean diet and let’s not forget that the Mediterranean way of eating is tasty, flavorful and enjoyable!
Post and photos by Maria Lina Bommarito
For information, email email@example.com
Address: Municipio Centro Congressi Maroni
Corso Sei Aprile, 119
91011, Alcamo (TP)
By Natalie Cammarata
This Sicilian city is full of secrets, but its street food isn’t one of them. Monday through Saturday, the locals follow the smells and sounds to any one of Palermo‘s open-air markets for a taste of regional fare.
My experience eating mozzarella and gelato in central Italy did not prepare me for the entirely unique animal I encountered in the Sicilian capital. The foods I found here were simple — some simply delicious and others simply best left to those with strong stomachs.
Behind the Teatro Massimo, Italy’s largest opera house, lies a spider web of alleys that make up Mercato di Capo. I started along Via Sant’Agostino and made my way through the hanging linens lining the narrow streets, past the tables of socks, baby clothes and Sicily-shaped magnets, the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” DVDs, the ceramics stand and the tables of earrings, and came to a narrow street filled with fresh fish, homemade pastas and butchers awaiting my order. On this street, a young woman named Arianna and her brothers served the most heavenly arancini (Sicilian rice balls) in Palermo for 1.5 euros (about $2).
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Four important Sicilian associations (Sicily Hotels and Tourism Industrial Association, Streets of Sicily Wine and Flavors Federation, Sicily Wine Tourism Organization and Enterprise Europe Network) have combined their competences and expertise into the “Sicily Tasting Network”, a new initiative that aims to promote food and wine tourism. The network will focus on tourist-local marketing actions involving wine cellars, accommodation capacities and farm entities.
The Hotels of Sicily Industrial Association will improve communication with tourists thanks to the staff training provided by FISAR and ONAV professionals and will be instrumental to increase network cellars exposure through the exhibition and the presence of oils and wines on hotels menus. Streets of Sicily Wine itineraries will complement the offer with cellar tours and provide the contents for holiday packages in collaboration with Sicily Wine Tourism Organization. The Enterprise Europe Network will finalize the internationalization of these proposals.
There are many external partners which decided to support the “Sicily Tasting Network” with their professional free contribution. “One of our objectives” – says Ornella Laneri, Sicily Hotels and Tourism Industrial Association president – “is to give form new young professional figures, and we are working on protocols of agreement with the universities in Catania and Palermo”. Through training and information, and sharing a huge cultural, food and wine heritage, Sicily Tasting Network will represent a complete tourist offer on international scenery. It will be worth a taste!
You can discover Sicily following the itinerary of its seducing flavors, scents and scenery. For example, “Mamertino” DOC wine is one of the oldest in the world and it has been produced for centuries. It was Julius Ceasar’s favorite. You will be captivated by the strength of the elements which characterize Mount Etna. Wonderful towns rise at its slopes within a breathless natural scenery: woods, valleys and extinct volcanoes such as Monte Ilice, situated between Zafferana Etnea and Trecastagni. It’s here you can taste the sweet aromatic flavor of the honey. You can go a little further on and discover Bronte, birthplace of the green gold, the pistachio, which reigns among the desserts of Sicilian tradition. From Nelson Castle to Caltabiano and Randazzo you will find the ancient splendors of medieval towns, panoramas and cultures only this Mediterranean island could offer.
Summer’s sunny days and breezy nights are studded with events which enrich tourist proposal with taste. During Cantine Aperte on May 26, you can discover wine world and culture in this area. For Calici di Stelle on August 10, you can enjoy food and wine tasting and open-air shows under the stars. Benvenuta Vendemmia on September 8 is a unique opportunity to discover and live the feast linked to grape harvesting.
More information at www.sicilytasting.it
During the summer season when fruits and vegetables are plentiful, Sicilians prepare their provisions for the winter. This tradition dates back to ancient times and still the same methods are in use today.
Tomatoes – protagonists of Sicilian cuisine – are stored in various ways, cooked and prepared for delicious sauces or even sun-dried using salt as a natural additive. Sun-drying tomatoes is possible only in those regions where the sun shines generously as in Sicily. The method requires much patience and dedication.
First of all it is necessary to choose nice big tomatoes perfectly ripe. The tomatoes are then cut in half lengthwise leaving the parts attached on one side. They must then be laid cut-side up on a wooden board and sprinkled with plenty of salt. The tomatoes are then left in the sun for a few days, depending on the intensity of the heat, then turned on the other side until nice and dry but not crisp.
When the tomatoes are sun-dried they must be attached in pairs and stored either in a large glass jar or, according to tradition, in a wicker basket.
In Sicily it is possible to buy sun-dried tomatoes at fruit and vegetable markets, but they can also be found at any deli.
These sun-dried tomatoes can be prepared in many different ways and the result is always delicious and irresistible.
20 sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups bread crumbs
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup grated caciocavallo or parmesan cheese
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
1 clove chopped garlic
1 Tbs. raisins
1 Tbs. pine nuts
olive oil for frying
The tomatoes need to be soaked in water overnight to remove the exceeding salt. Drain the tomatoes and let dry on paper towels. Mix the bread crumbs with all the ingredients excluding the oil. Dip the inside of the tomatoes first in the oil then in the bread crumb mixture. Join together the two halves of the tomatoes then gently fry on both sides in a pan with ¼ inch of olive oil.
Due to the intense flavor of this traditional Sicilian dish, it is best to match with a wine of the same territory. Inzolia, a typical Sicilian white wine, soft, well-balanced with just a touch of insipidity well matches with the acidity of the tomatoes and the spiciness of the bread-crumb filling.
Our correspondent Maria Lina Bommarito was able to interview Santi Buzzotta, organizer of the event Bollicine & Chic (a great sparkling wine event) and promoter of Sicilian best products, has life-long experience in the wine sector.
Maria Lina Bommarito: The idea of this event?
S.B.: This event is only the first of a series and the idea comes from the need to promote Sicilian sparkling wines. When we think of Italian sparkling wines we usually think of Prosecco, Franciacorta and Trento DOC. Sicily has been producing sparkling wines for many years now. Sicilian wineries have invested in research and innovation to obtain higher quality sparkling wines. There are about forty wineries that produce sparkling wines, more than seventy different labels for both Martinotti (Charmat) and Classic (Champenoise) Method. I deeply think that now we are ready to communicate the high standards obtained.
M.B.: Which grape varieties are used to make Sicilian sparkling wines?
S.B.: Besides Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – two international varieties commonly used – Sicilian sparkling wines are produced with indigenous varieties as: Nero d’Avola, Grillo, Inzolia, Zibibbo, Malvasia and also Carricante and Nerello Mascalese which are typical of the Etna area.
M.B.: What does the Sicilian wine world offer tourists today?
S.B.: We all know that Sicilian wine is unique first of all for its history. We have evidence that wine production in this region dates back to the Greeks and the Romans. Wines made in Sicily are also particular for the territory in which they are produced. Different weather conditions, altitudes and temperatures create bio-diversities and unique wines. Tasting a Sicilian wine is like experiencing the tradition, the culture and the passion of the people that produced it.
M.B.: As far as marketing and communication are concerned, what could be done to promote Sicilian sparkling wines?
S.B.: Of course, marketing and communication are essential to promote sparkling wines. Wineries value the importance of cooperation and network building and this event is an important first step. Along with the Strade del Vino (Wine Routes) that are operative in Sicily, it would be a good initiative to organize the Strade delle Bollicine (Sparkling Wine Routes).
M.B.: When is the best time to drink sparkling wines, how do you suggest to pair them?
S.B.: Sicilian sparkling wines are fantastic! There are top quality labels and others that are evolving and soon will reach this target. There are easy-drinking sparkling wines and others produced with Classic method that are exceptional. Wines that date back to 1999, 2000 and 2004 that are spectacular. No need to wait for special occasions, sparkling wines are great as aperitif, but also suitable to accompany any meal.
For more information, please visit www.verissima.it
Castelluccimiano – www.castelluccimiano.it
Donnafugata – www.donnafugata.it
Duca di Salaparuta – www.duca.it
Firriato – www.firriato.it
Cantine Florio – www.duca.it/cantineflorio
Funaro – www.funaro.it
Lanzara – www.lanzarawines.com
Maggiovini – www.maggiovini.it
Patria – www.vinipatria.it
Planeta – www.planeta.it
Murgo – www.murgo.it
Tasca d’Almerita – www.tenutadiregaleali.it
Tenuta Gorghi Tondi – www.gorghitondi.com
Terre della Baronia – www.milazzovini.com
Terzavia – Marsala
Virgona – www.malvasiadellelipari.it
Fall is a beautiful season in Sicily. After the summer, the weather slowly changes because of the alternating of rain showers and beautiful sunny days. During this season, a variety of delicious fruits and vegetables enrich the Sicilian kitchen table.
An old-time sweet that reminds me of my childhood is the cotognata or quince paste. Quince is a pome fruit uneatable raw because of its tangy astringent flavor.
Quince trees grow in the southern regions of Italy, especially in Sicily where the summers are sufficiently hot for the fruits to ripe. In the spring, their lovely early pink blossoms are spectacular.
Brought to Sicily by the ancient Greeks, quinces have been mentioned by Roman historians as Pliny the Elder and Apicius in his cookbook. In the recent past cotognata was given to the children for All Saints’ Day.
The preparation of the cotognata is a bit laborious, but patience transforms this fruit into a delicious dessert.
- Granulated sugar
Peel the quinces and cut each one into 4 chunks. Boil with a fresh lemon sliced in half at medium heat until cooked. Drain well discard lemon and let dry a few hours. Mash with a sieve.
For each pound of fruit add 13 oz. granulated sugar.
Cook in a saucepan at medium heat, mixing continuously. After the mixture reaches marmalade consistency, continue cooking and mixing for other 10 minutes. Pour into a Pyrex pan and level.
After cooling, slice into 1 inch square and let dry. After 2 days, turn pieces over and let dry other 2 days. When the pieces are dry on all sides the cotognata can be saved in the refrigerator.
The Sicilian province of Trapani boasts leadership in production of quality DOP (Denominazione Origine Protetta – Protected Designation of Origin) oils, a certified quality oil that in Sicily reaches 1,500 tons.
The certified valley of Nocellara del Belice, one of the six Sicilian DOP’s, is rated in the top five DOP’s in all Italy. The warm Sicilian sun, the soil, the saline breeze from the Mediterranean Sea make this extra virgin olive oil one of the best in Italy.
The DOP Certification introduced by European Community Regulation in 1992 guarantees the origin of food products. The entire oil production process of Nocellara del Belice from the the cultivation methods, harvesting techniques and milling to packaging must be strictly followed. Severe controls certify this.
Studies demonstrate that olive oil has many healthy benefits. That light tingle in your throat after having tasted Sicilian extra virgin oil has positive effects. Olive oil contains powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory, pain-killing and even anti-tumor potential.
Mr. Becchina the owner of the “Antica Tenuta dei Principi Pignatelli” explained that the olives are exclusively hand-picked and rigorously milled within the day for the production of his olive oil. 90% of it is exported to the United States, Germany and Switzerland.
Nearby is the “Case di Latomie”, located within a thousands-year-old quarry in which the ancient inhabitants of Selinunte extracted the stone to build their city. The Greek city’s origin dates back to the year 650 BC and many ruins still stand including the famous Selinunte temple. Signs of the extractions of these huge blocks are still visible within the resort. Antonio Centonze, the property owner, guided us through this historic site where an astonishing 700-year old olive tree stands. This olive tree incredibly still produces olives!
These organic olive groves produce excellent award-winning oils appreciated throughout the world. The original lithographed oil cans portraying beautiful sites of Sicily show Antonio’s passion for his family tradition.
If you are visiting Sicily during the olive harvest don’t miss to visit the Valle del Belice with its century-old olive groves. Don’t miss a stop at an oil mill where you can sample freshly pressed green aromatic olive oil: an unforgettable experience.
For information on wine and oil tours: firstname.lastname@example.org
The beginning of November is traditionally the time of the year dedicated to remember the dead in Sicily. Two important festivities that stretch back centuries are celebrated at the beginning of the month. November 1st is “All Saints’ Day”, a religious feast dedicated to all the Saints known and unknown. November 2nd is “All Souls’ Day” known in Sicilian as “U jouni rì morti” (the day of the dead) and is dedicated to ancestors and deceased family members. It may sound sad and mournful but actually it is not: more than a commemoration it is a celebration of these peoples’ lives.
For children this was – until a few decades ago – the only holiday during which it was possible to receive gifts, mostly sweets and toys. As for all festivities, Sicilians prepare traditional specialties to celebrate the holiday. Most renowned of all are the marzipan fruit made with almond flour. These sweets look like real fruit and vegetables and are colorfully displayed in pastry shops and stands set up for the occasion.
Other sweets are prepared for this festivity: taralli, mustazzoli and nucatoli. The real protagonist of this holiday – and undoubtedly the children’s favorite – is the pupo di zucchero (sugar puppet) also called pupaccena. These beautiful statues made of sugar are painted by hand using the colors of the Sicilian carts.
The pupi di zucchero represent traditional characters or items as knights and princesses, horse-drawn carts and saints. Nowadays other subjects have been added to better suit children’s tastes. So, nothing odd about seeing a brave knight unseating his spade next to Spiderman or Batman all displayed for the joy of the holiday.
The origins of caponata date back to ancient times when in the aristocratic families a particular type of fish the capone, was prepared with a sweet-and sour sauce. The people not were not able to afford fish substituted it with eggplants and gradually added other vegetables to the original recipe.
Caponata is usually prepared during the summer season when eggplants, the main ingredient, are at their best. There are different versions of caponata depending on the area and family traditions.
Together with the eggplants, various ingredients are used to prepare this delicious and tasting dish: onions, celery, carrots, peppers, green olives, and capers from Pantelleria.
Making caponata during the summer may be considered a bit laborious because of the warm temperature. but the result is certainly worth the effort.
- 6 medium-sized eggplants
- 3 big white onions
- 3 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 pepper
- 1 cup pitted green olives
- 3 Tbs. pickled capers
- ½ cup tomatoes sauce
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- Frying oil
Dice and salt the eggplants letting them drain for 1 hour. In the meantime peal and thinly slice the onions, carrots, celery and pepper.
In a large pan fry the eggplants and remove from the pan placing them in a large bowl. Individually fry the other vegetables removing from the pan and putting together with the fried eggplant. Using the same pan gently sauté the olives with the capers. Add the tomatoe sauce and when it starts thickening add the vinegar and the sugar. Stir and add the other vegetables.
The caponata can be served as “antipasto” or as a side dish.