Tag Archives: Cook

Dinner at Ardigna – Salemi, Sicily

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During a recent trip to Sicily, my hosts decided to take me off to an adventure for dinner.  We drove for a couple of hours up these winding, tiny roads………….full of pot holes and parts of the road unpaved.  I was wondering what sort of culinary temple would be nestled up in this dense Sicilian forest and who in their right mind would EVER take the time, not to mention the risk of traveling to this outpost!  It was late at night, around 10 P.M…………remember the Italians love to dine late.   When the headlights shone off the edge of the road and there was nothing but darkness below,

I was reminded of my ride to the rainforest to visit my Aztec friends and wondered why I was alway being put at the edge of the abyss in my life!

After what seemed to be an all night excursion we rounded a corner and entered a parking lot FULL of vehicles!!!  There were others out there who would take this venture……..feeling more confident now!

We found ourselves at an ancient hunting lodge, in the middle of the Sicilian forest on a mountain top! 

The Ardigna was not always open to the public and for years was the private lodge for those who would hunt in these forests.

The interior was so very warm and inviting, the rustic charm so well blended with most incredible smells coming from the kitchen and the smiles of the staff……..


the meal began with a simple knotted bread, with the taste of pretzels and beautiful olive oil……

…oh a light dinner……..I thought…..

…………..and then it began……the virtual tsunami of antipasto………the first a tray of such incredible delights..quail eggs, some obscure meat on a skewer, grilled eggplant, prosciutto, delightful fresh tomatoes, fried mozzarella, olives and several items that were not of my known culinary universe……however they were delightful….

a stew of fresh lamb………..served in ancient copper pots…

………fava beans……….minus the hockey mask……..

…beautiful fresh cheese…

and we are so very, very lucky to have arrived during artichoke season and are rewarded with the most succulent, delightful artichokes……..

then……….oh might I swoon………..gnocci with saffron and pistachio……

followed by more pasta with fresh lamb………

and just when you think you cannot eat another mosel……….comes the platter full of meats that were hunted that day……
venison…….donkey……quail…….goat…..wild boar…..and more………

a most enchanting evening………oh did I mention the wine…….I consumed liters of it……most fantastic!!!

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Pasta Making – Mazara del Vallo – Sicily

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During the second World War, Vito Gallo made a bet with a companion-in-arms that if  he could make a safe return home to Mazasra del Vallo, Sicily, he would set up a large pasta factory where he would produce one of the best Italian pastas.  He was convinced, in fact, that the values of peace, friendship and family could also be enjoyed around a table. 

Since then the Pastificio Gallo has been producing pasta that appeals to everyone’s taste, thanks to its taste, savour and smell.   This is pasta that makes you experience the yellowing Sicilian cornfields, the burning sun and the beautiful sea breeze.

The recipe comes from Vito Gallo’s sons Natale and Calogero who are personally engaged in the selection of the best hard wheat bran of Sicily, as well as the daily monitoring of the various production stages.

Vito Gallo has succeeded in winning this ancient bet with his marvelous pasta and I had the grand privilege of touring his amazing factory and watching the pasta in action.

From the tons of and selected flour that arrives around the clock to the flour silos…

the pasta is made into large sheets that continually pour from the machines towards the bronze dies that will cut the most amazing shapes……..

out come all the marvelous pastas on their way to the drying bins…..

the drying bins turn the pasta and dry it at a very low temperature………the pasta spends from six to twelve hours in the drying bins………

the out comes the most fragrant, beautiful pasta……..

treated like gold by the Gallo sons…….

then it is off to the packaging portion of the process…..

the robots stack and wrap the packages of pasta……


and then it is off to all parts of the world…………

but this is my favorite part of the entire process………

Mangiare Con Gusto!

Flag of the Sicilian Region Italiano: Bandiera...

Flag of the Sicilian Region Italiano: Bandiera della Regione Siciliana Sicilianu: Bannera dâ Riggiuni Siciliana Deutsch: Flagge der Sizilianischen Region (oder der Autonomen Region Sizilien) Français : Drapeau de la Région Sicilienne Español: Bandera de la Región Siciliana Polski: Flaga Regionu Sycylia Português: Bandeira da Região Siciliana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lunch on the Beach – Ristorante La Pineta : Marinella di Selinute – Sicily

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The weather was perfect, about 70 degrees, the sky clear and the Mediterranean breeze so very refreshing.  We were off on an exploration and my senses were heightened with anticipation of what we might encounter. 

We pulled the car over to the side of the road, at the edge of a cliff, sloping steeply to the beach below, as I peered over the edge the most beautiful, isolated beach came into view.

 
It was then that my companions turned to me and informed me that I was in for the culinary experience of a lifetime…………all I saw at the base of the earthen staircase was a small unassuming building with some beach chairs outside. I thought perhaps that we did not share the same culinary visions…………….but I trusted, so off we went to Ristorante La Pineta

I was reminded about so many beach front restaurants that I have visited in the past…………extremely casual, relaxed and promising below mediocre food and service. Inside I groaned and thought of all the other wonderful places on the island of Sicily we could now be. Then it began………….
A pure symphony of food and service…………I nearly swooned and soon forgot that there were any others in my presence; I so became one with this culinary experience. The very lines between reality and the tastes, smells and vision of the most marvelous food became blurry and the air around me seemed to shimmer with the perfect harmony of smell, taste and sight. This was nirvana!

I had been transported to a celestial table and Edesia herself was presiding over this magic.

The notes awaiting the skillful hands of the Chef to arrange them into a marvelous symphony

The antipasto arrived one dish at a time………..here they are nestled together…..

Octopus – Swordfish – Anchioves – Shrimp

…but now it was time……..the orchestra had warmed up and the room filled with the fullness of the majesty of the symphony…..

The melodic sweet and light clams dancing like the notes of the woodwinds in front of the uplifting notes of the French Horn – Trombone and Trumpet Pasta entwined by the Drums – Snares and Tympani of the Olive Oil and Herbs

……….the composer does not rest……….. he completes the symphony by joining the complex movement of Mussels – Shrimp – Clams into a euphony that brings the participants to a near euphoria….

the eyes are rolling back, the palms sweating profusely………the heart no longer rhymthic….the conducter senses that the audience must be calmed and introduces

a simple melody of fresh fruit to return us back to the earthly plane……..


………..we slump in our chairs and hold on to the fleeting glory that just passed us ……… like satiated lovers…..

we wander into the sunlight and delight in our experience….