Dec 152011
Piero's "Better Than Balsamic," Postscript with Pictures

Frost has snuffed out the last breath of Indian summer in New York, but warm up with these images of Sicily.  From Piero Catalano, the artisan food producer and master vinegar maker I met in Trapani province this past September (see “A New Vinegar is Born,” 26 October post), a postscript in pictures.  Next, go make yourself some stracotto (Italian extra slow-simmered meat stew) with aged vinegar…stay tuned for the recipe…. Piero Catalano’s sun-dried tomatoes and other local products on the shelves in his Trapani shop, KusKus. The most precious item is his vinegar. Since then he has picked all […more…]

Oct 262011
Pantelleria, Sicily: A New Vinegar is Born

Day 4   I don’t think there is a place in the world more ideal than Pantelleria to think of the Moon. And Pantelleria is much more beautiful. The endless plains of volcanic rock, the calm sea, the dammusi (traditional volcanic rock houses) where you can see African lighthouses through their windows on windless nights… the bottom of the sea asleep… an ancient amphora with stone garlands and the remains of some wine corroded over the years… bathing in a vaporous bowl in water so thick with minerals you can walk on it… –Gabriel Garcia Marquez, describing the Sicilian island […more…]

Oct 042011
Revisiting Fontanasalsa, Trapani

If yesterday’s post has left you hungry, here is a description of the excellent lunch I had at the Fontanasalsa agritourism when I visited in the spring. The table was filled with the fruits of the fields and woods nearby–platters piled high with sweet or peppered cheeses and salamis from the countryside, sweet-and-sour eggplant and zucchini compotes, tender glazed veal rolls stuffed with caciocavallo cheese and herbs, and baby cuttlefish coddled in pungent tomato sauce, as tender as they could be. There was hand-made pasta stuffed like a jelly roll with freshly made sheep’s milk ricotta and tender greens, and […more…]

Oct 022011
The Fine Olive Oil of Trapani

Day 2 A Revelation Sicily’s topography is as diverse as its vivid human landscape. Lush, subtropical flora and desert landscapes alternate with stunning coastlines, volcanic archipelagos, rugged mountains and an active volcano (Mount Aetna). Trapani province’s vista is softened with endless carpets of citrus orchards, olive trees and vineyards, and studded with the vestiges of crumbled empires, ruined Moorish forts and enchanting medieval towns. The fruits of Trapani are many, among them olives, transformed by masters of olive oil into some of the best oil in the world. Three things combine to make this possible: the mineral-rich volcanic soil, single […more…]