Monday, April 28, 2008

Buon Compleanno Mario

Saturday night, our nephew Mario celebrated his fifth birthday. It was a festa indeed! There were games, music, and a room full of friends and family.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

la Festa della Liberazione

April 25th is an annual public holiday in Italy on the anniversary of the 1945 liberation. We decided to gather together, with our friends, for a grilled fish feast at a Villa in our town. Early Saturday morning, Antonello, Luca, and I drove down to the fish market in Riposto and prepared for the meal. We bought over a kilo of octopus, mascolini, two kilos of Orate, and then a few calamari were throw in at the end. On our drive back, we stopped at a street side vendor and picked up some oranges, nespole (loquats), and lemons. Thirty minutes later, and after learning everything about the old man selling fruits and vegetables, we drove up to our town on the mountain. Once home, Antonello and I prepare the octopus salad and the fish for the grill.

This Villa is owned by our friend, and will open in June as a four star Bed & Breakfast. It will be amazing!

The weather was perfect, the meal was abundant, and the company put it all together.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sunday at the Aquarium

Antonello and I wanted to make a day out with our nieces and nephews. So on Sunday morning, after a refreshing Granita at Caffè Cali', we were all off to the Aquarium in Giarre. This was the first time for all of us, and we were pleasantly surprised.

Remarkably, the more people we talk to, the more we learn that no one knows this little Aquarium exists...

Each exhibit was dedicated to a part of the Sicilian coastline.

It was great, we arrived early and the whole place was for us! The kids were so excited.

After the Aquarium, we drove down the road from Giarre to Riposto, to see the Sunday Fish Market.

Across the street is the Riposto Marina, where you can walk and see all the boats.

But, one can not leave Riposto without tasting the best Pistachio Gelato! Here, in the Marina, the bar serves what we believe to be the best! If you notice, everyone gets the pistachio here... Pistachios from Bronte in every bite!

Ok, Mario wanted chocolate...

The beautiful Elena and Chiara sharing a cup!

It was a great day!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

La Zagara- il fiore dell’ arancio

Spring is here and the scent of zagara is in the air…

With its five soft, delicate petals, the pure and innocent beauty of the orange blossom exudes such a complex fragrance.

We have citrus groves all around us. Last week when Scirocco, the warm African wind, blew over Sicily, it carried into the streets the sweet, intense, scent of the zagara.

Nero di Seppia

One of my favorite pasta dishes, when we dine out, happens to be Nero di Seppia, Black ink of the Cuttlefish. Yes, it is not a meal for those worried about their appearance as during the meal your entire mouth turns a very dark shade of black. But, for those daring and open to taste something incredible, this is a plate you must not pass up. I stopped by the fish market and picked up a couple cuttlefishes to try this delicacy at home.

These are the ink pouches inside the Seppia

4 People:
350 g of spaghetti
500 g of seppie, 13 cm long, tender
half glass of tomato sauce
1/2 onion (70 g)
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup of white wine
extra virgin olive oil
black pepper and salt

Clean the seppia, saving the ink pouch. Cut the seppia into pieces then rinse with water. Cut the onion into slices and sauté in EVOlive Oil over medium heat with one clove of garlic. When the onion changes color, add the seppia, parsley, and the tomato sauce. Cook together on low heat. Then add the white wine and leave to cook completely. (20 min)

At the end, break the ink pouch and empty into the pan. (This is very strong ink, better to break with scissors and not your hands!) Cook for another minute and add the pepper, and salt if necessary. Turn the fire off and remove the garlic, and add EVOlive Oil. Combine the spaghetti and a touch of parsley for decoration.


Calamaricchi or Calamaretti in Italian, are little squids. Every fish market you pass lately have these little guys on display. So, for lunch... Pasta con Calamaricchi!


Yes, that does say "Pig Fat".
I had been looking all over for strutto to make my Torta di Ricotta. I had read that good pasta frolla is made only with strutto. But, where does one find it? I asked around town and received nothing but unsure faces. The man of the "stocco" advised me to ask Enzo our butcher for fat and use that. Hmm, I could... (I would have to prepare it somehow?)

Fortunately, while walking through a store in Misterbianco, we found it! Right next to the butter, packaged and waiting for me.

I have to say, I did miss the sweet butter scent when rolling out the dough. The cake turned out very nice, but until the strutto becomes more available, I'll continue with my butter...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spigola al Sale

If you happen to attend a Sicilian Wedding or a special celebration here in Sicily, you might have the opportunity to try a fish baked in salt. I mention the special celebrations, because on two occasions, we were dinning at a family members wedding, and when it was time for the second course, a tray covered in a mountain of white topped with sparkling fireworks, was presented to the bride and groom.

The fish is something special! The salt creates a hard shell around the fish, making it so it cooks in all its own juices, resulting in a very soft, moist, flavored fish.

2 kilos of fine salt
4 egg yolks
2 kilo of seabass

Beat the egg yolks till tall peaks are formed and add the salt. (We have used the large grain salt also, but this recipe is much easier to work with.)
Cover the fish with a thick layer of the salt mixture and place in the oven for 60 minutes. Rule of thumb, 20 minutes for every 600 grams.

Once cooked, crack open the salt shield and taste the difference.

Insalata di stocco

There are so many ways to prepare stocco, but for a fresh, light meal this Insalata di stocco is a great idea. Summer is on it's way! Read about stocco and where it's from here...

2 people
400 g stocco (Dried Cod Fish)
two boiled potatoes
EVOlive Oil

Boil the stocco in water will cooked. Clean the fish of bones and skin and place in a bowl. Add sliced potatoes, parsley, oil, and salt to taste.

Il Tiramisu'

I feel a bit ashamed when I make a Tiramisu, because it is just too easy... Its rich sweet creamy texture, wrapping around soft cookies drenched in an intense coffee flavor, is just too good to resist…

I ended up having a bit extra, so I baked little Tirimisu custards in the oven...

400 g Mascarpone
100 g Sugar
4 eggs divided
Cocoa powder
400 g of Ladyfinger cookies
2 cups of strong coffee

First, begin with making the coffee and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar until soft and creamy. Then mix in the mascarpone cheese. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until peaks form. When the whites are fluffy, add them to the mascarpone.
Dip each cookie in the coffee and set on a plate. Once the layer of cookies are complete, scoop the mascarpone over them. Continue layering. Finally sprinkle with cocoa as a final touch.

Tagliatelle con vongole e porro

Our friends Andrea and Miriam ate dinner with us on Saturday. We made another egg pasta, this time Tagliatelle...

Tagliatelle con vongole e porro
4 People:
Vongole (small clams) 1 kilo
Leeks 100 g
Bay leaf 2
White wine 50ml
2 cloves of garlic
EVOlive oil

Warm EVOlive oil in a pan with garlic and bay leaves. Once the garlic is browned, add the clams. A few minutes later, add the white wine and cook until tender. Remove the shells.
Cut the leak in slices and simmer in a pan of chicken or vegetable broth for ten minutes.
Once cooked, add the leeks to the pan with clams. Bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Add the cooked pasta to the vongole and serve.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Church Choir Easter Eve

2008-03-23 010102 piedimonte messa di pasqua dscf6266.avi
2008-03-23 005834 piedimonte messa di pasqua chierichetti ++

I was playing around with Sebastiano's picture site and learned that I can download little films. So, here is a short film of our choir singing on the Eve before Easter. Thank you Sebastiano!
There are so many great pictures of the town and the Celebration of Easter on his website.