A restaurant guide to Sicily >>
Sicilian recipes >>
One thing is without doubt: an essential ingredient of any successful holiday is good food and wine. Restaurants, vineyards, gelaterias and caf?s are as important as beaches, Cathedrals and archaeological sites. Sampling the local food, living the gastronomic life of the natives and sipping on glass of chilled wine made just round the corner are the essence of “la bella vita” . The following notes are just intended to push you in the right direction. Be adventurous, try things you’ve never heard of and accept recommendations from restaurant owners.
Food in Sicily is local: bananas & pineapples are usually the only imported fruit. You’ll find the freshest fish in the coastal towns, whereas the mountain villages are famous for their cheese (formaggi), salami, sausages (salsiccia), mushrooms (funghi). Tomatoes (pomodori) and aubergines (melanzane) are widely used and have a special taste and perfume! You will find a large variety of ice creams (gelati) all year round, the fruity ones being more popular during the summer. The Sicilian way to have it is in a freshly baked brioche!
Food in Sicily is seasonal: take the time to go to a local market to see what’s in season.
A few things “not to be missed” for each season:
Winter - oranges (arance), mandarins (manderini) and grapes (uva) fill the markets with theirsea many varieties. Arancine (rice balls filled with meat or ham and mozzarella) or the many kinds of panini (sandwiches) make a perfect quick lunch or snacks. Cassate and cannoli (made with ricotta cheese) and marzipan sweets (frutti & paste di martorana) are well presented in all the “pasticcerie”. Restaurants often offer the delicious “semifreddo di mandorle o pistacchi” (almonds or pistachios parfait –“solid” ice-cream- with hot chocolate sauce.).
Spring - medlars (nespole), the little orange fruit originally from Japan) and strawberries (fragole) are followed, towards the end of May by apricots (albicocche), cherries (ciliegie) and tiny, sweet pears (perine). The countryside is full of wild fennel (finocchio selvatico), asparagus (asparagi) and artichokes (carciofi).
It’s the best time to try the “pasta con le sarde” (with fresh sardines, wild fennel, and pinenuts), the tuna (tonno) and the sword fish (pesce spada).
Summer - different kinds of prunes (susine), peaches (pesche), cantaloupe (delicious with ham as an appetiser or served cold, with fresh mint and red wine or port as dessert), watermelon (anguria). Try the “gelo di melone” (watermelon gelly with chocolate and jasmine) and the “granite”: our favourite ones are coffee and almonds (caffe’ e mandorla), lemon and peach or cantaloupe….or figs, towards the end of August.
Autumn - it’s time for the olive harvest. Prickly pears (fichi d’india) and roasted chestnuts (caldaroste) are sold in little kiosks in many towns. Specialties such as caponata (vegetarian dish with aubergines, celery, olives and tomatoes) and peperonata (with peppers) are worth trying.