Sicily has so far been equal parts paradise alongside a hard dose of reality. My journey began in a Villa outside of a small City on the Western border called Castelvetrano in the comfort of an extended family of friends from NY, Italy and London. The idea was to begin working with local ingredients for a large group, acclimate to Italy, get sun kissed, study Italian and prolong a series of goodbyes before venturing into a place of personal growth on my own. Despite some incredible day trips (to Elice, Salunente and Marsala), I wanted nothing more than to cook and allow my senses to take over. This is truly why I am here!
The image above is of the deconstructed ingredients which went into baked stuffed mushrooms. They include ripe red local Pomodoro’s (Tomatoes), Lemons handpicked from the tree outside, pungent local Garlic, salted fresh Capers and rich buttery Anchovies. Many of these ingredients informed other dishes this week. A Lemon Risotto used the rind’s of 6 oversized lemons, added when the heat was turned off the burner; the fragrant lemon oil erupted bright senses to define the dish. Lemon juice replaced white wine for citrus continuity. Stuffed Zucchini fleur's (with Provolone and Anchovies) were deep fried in Bier Batter. A memory I accessed from my first trip to Florence over 10 years ago with my family. Sicilian Salt encrusted whole Shrimp were grilled outside along with Calamari which I soaked in Milk to guarantee their tenderness.
Other dishes included beautifully Al Dente Spaghetti Vongole, Shrimp and Potato Croquettes, Chicken Soup with Penne, Zucchini, Tomato and Ricotta Salata Salad, 4 bean Minestrone, a rustic Rataouille with Zucchini, Eggplant, Capers, Artichokes, Lemon and Anchovies) and Cold Tuna Salad Bruchetta (with Celery, Capers, Red Onion, Black Olives and Lemon rind).