Sicilian food is a fusion of Arab, Greek, French, Spanish and North African influences plus the mainland flavors of Italy. Because Sicilian food and culture was so influenced by its history and Sicily only became a part of Italy in the mid-19th century it will always have its own special ambiance and character unique to the rest of the mainland. Some of its most well-known dishes which are served almost everywhere are antipasti: Arancini a delectable ball of creamy risotto and cheese or it can be filled with meat, deep fried and: is often an antipasti or snack. Caponada eggplant, pine nuts, and raisins with a vinegary sauce.
Anything with Bronte’s pistachios which includes pastas, desserts and they even make an Arancini with this special pistachio grown on the edge of Mount Etna in the fertile volcanic soil which gives them a flavor unlike any pistachio that you have ever tasted. Bronte is a village about one and a half hours from Taormina.
Cannolis originated in Sicily. The origins are debated. Some say they originated during the Arab domination of the island; some say it was of Roman descent or maybe Spanish. What started as a confection during Carnival became a year around treat. One of the most important differences is the ricotta cheese. Most often it is prepared with sheep ricotta but in some areas it is made with cow ricotta. For me it is like the difference between yogurt, in Greece made with sheep’s milk and what you get in the USA made of cow’s milk. The sheep’s milk is richer and has a more full-bodied taste and consistency. But it is a matter of taste. The shell is a deep-fried tube shaped pastry dough. The contrasting texture of the filling and crust is what makes this dessert so scrumptious.
The Amalfi coast is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Italy’s most unforgettable destinations. Covered with cliff hanging villages cascading down to the Tyrrhenian sea, the food and restaurants of Campania have great handmade pastas and delectably fresh fish. One of the best foods of this region is Scialatielli, which originated here in the 1960s. It is stout, thicker and shorter than fettuccine with a rectangular cross section. It is most often served all’ amalfitaina, with clams, mussels prawns and or cuttlefish.
Calamari: Grilled with garlic and tomato sauce. It is best if it is the catch of the day so it melts in your mouth and is not rubbery. As always eat what is fresh and available. You will often see what is fresh in the mornings in the local fish markets that’s usually the type of fish to order in a restaurant.
One of the most scenic regions of Italy with hill towns and cultivated landscapes is Tuscany. It is a gourmet destination unrivaled for food and wine. Many of the local favorite foods are simply prepared with fresh herbs and high-quality ingredients. It is a farm to table region with the freshest local elements.
Bistecca alla Fiorenta: A T-bone cut of local cattle – the Chianina an ancient Tuscan breed. Grilled and brushed with rosemary and served with lemon wedges. Simple ingredients with an incredible taste.
Minestrone: A hearty vegetable soup filled with fresh bite sized vegetables, fava beans and pasta. Its origins were thought to be of a soup made from leftovers. Its roots are rustic and rural and may be traced back to Roman times.
Strangozzi: A delightful fall dish made of pasta, garlic, olive oil and black truffles sliced or grated. I prefer it with graded truffles and pecorino Romano cheese Black truffles are abundant in the Umbria region in the fall and are fresh and delicious. The dish tastes perfect with a side of artichoke hearts which are also fresh in this region in the Fall season
Schiacciata: A crunchy yet soft Tuscan Flatbread often made with tomatoes, cheese, and oregano, drizzled with olive oil. Sometimes made with ham or salami. It can also be found sweet with fruit or chocolate.
Panforte di Siena: An appealing fruit cake with nuts sprinkled with powdered sugar. It is the most delectable fruit and nut cake in the world!