Food and travel go hand in hand, anyone that says otherwise just doesn’t take their food seriously. A long weekend is an ideal opportunity to explore the corners of countries and cities. It’s enough time to eat your way through at least nine meals and that’s not even counting the snacks and drinks! This time I travelled to the island of Sicily, the most southerly part of Italy and home to Mount Etna, still very active, as we all know. The land at the foot of Etna is said to be blessed due to its fertile soils, making it home to a selection of vineyards and farms. Sicily was on the travel wish list as somewhere new, somewhere warm and somewhere with recognised tasty food!
An island where they worship pistachio, you may have experienced this ingredient before when visiting Italian gelaterias but think again. Sicily loves pistachio, fondly known as green gold, where it is topped, filled, or flavoured on a variety of foods. Pistachios are grown in Sicily in Bronte and in 2009 obtained the Protected Designation of Origin PDO. Bronte is a small town to the west of Mount Etna, another food that thrives in the fertile, volcanic soils. You can even find a pistachio pesto for fresh pasta…
- Gelateria Gusto – THE place to go for fantastic gelato
- Pasticceria Artale – a great spot for breakfast treats
- Ortigia Street Market – where to get your pistachio spread from
Forget a cappuccino and croissant, have a Sicilian-style breakfast of granita and brioche. Choose from a variety of flavours, from lemon to yup you guessed it, pistachio. The slushy texture of the granita is served with a Sicilian brioscia, served warm, and is meant to be dipped into the granita.
- Cafe Apollo – a cafe well worth a visit to sit and people watch during the morning as the town comes alive
Something you will struggle to avoid when wandering around the streets in Sicilian towns, why would you want to anyway! Traditionally eaten during the Carnival but this dessert began so popular and delicious that people began eating them for absolutely no reason at all. The traditional Sicilian recipe is with a creamy ricotta made from sheep’s milk and topped with candied cherries, orange peel or pistachio. You won’t struggle to find places that sell a variety of Cannoli.
What could be tastier than a fried ball of rice? Not that appetising when said like that however let’s delve into this popular street food. Crispy on the outside and traditionally filled with creamy mozzarella and a rich ragu, then fried to perfection. It is said that arancini originated from Sicily in the 10th Century when it was under Arab rule and is said to have been inspired by a Middle Eastern dish Kibbeh, made out of lamb or beef and bulgar wheat.
- Antica Giudecca – one of the best places to get arancini in Ortigia
- Bordiere Paninino – one of the best places to go for a sandwich, located near the street market
- Cola Pasta – good lunch spot for a quick but filling tasty pasta
- MOON – a unique restaurant serving vegan food, very popular
- Zenzero – another vegan-friendly spot
- Piano B – apparently the best pizza, we didn’t have time to try it!
- Osteria da Seby – down a side street, traditional restaurant
- Domus – another fresh pasta eatery in one of the squares
Don’t forget to also try all the aperitivo dishes and spritz!
Everyone should have a little taste of Italy so in honour of this trip, we have created a new festive cooking class for this year – Festive Italian Treats, you can try your hand at making your own classic and traditional Italian sweet treats.