Strong and elemental, Sicily retains an unconquered character and romantic spirit, and you can taste it in her food. Greek ruins dot the landscape. Arabian eggplants, lemons, saffron and nutmeg thrive in rich volcanic soil. Local artisans hand-make chocolates and cheeses. Sicilian dishes draw on history but abound with independent ideas and innovative interpretations that stand apart from the cuisine of mainland Italy.
I would like to introduce you to my good friend Chef Linda Sarris who I met at Regaleali some years ago. Her love of Sicily is as deep as mine and her knowledge increases daily by living in Palermo over the Ballarò market. She has an infectious smile, like she might be up to something.
I have invited Linda to join me this time as we coil our way across this dramatic region from Palermo’s rowdy ancient food markets, through the lesser-known introterra, home to noble wine estates, ending in coastal fishing villages. We’ll make a pilgrimage to Modica for hand-produced chocolates and Noto for the world’s best gelato. We’ll take walks through the countryside, taste wine from famous vineyards, enter private kitchens, gentle olive groves and gardens bursting with flavor. As we cross the island, Sicily reveals her secrets to us.
Inspiration: The late Anna Tasca Lanza and the fabulous Fabrizia Lanza. Case Vecchie and the estate of Regaleali. My friendship and mutual admiration with Chef Linda Sarris. The garden. Fresh artichokes and fresh green chickpeas. Biancomangiare. Fico d’India. Grillo. Arianna’s wines. Ciocolato di Bonajuto. Marzamemi. The booming cacophony of Palermo’s markets. Scoops of granita at Caffè Sicilia.
From my journal…
I opened my eyes and found heavenly hills in my face, like breasts and hips, curvaceous and steep; I felt held by a dark fertile mother. Vines fell down her sides like tightly braided cornrows. She was unmovable, a mountain of soft strength, sensual and giving, an invisible yet tangible force of nature. I did not need to reach my hand out to touch what was already a part of me.