Food + Wine

A Culinary Tour of Italy

by Faith Willinger


Sicily is a crossroads of the Mediterranean, so expect hints of exotic spices like saffron and cinnamon paired with local ingredients—lemons, blood oranges, fresh citron, almonds, capers, and wild mountain oregano. Palermo's markets, located on the northern coast, are reminiscent of an Arabian bazaar, with three-wheeled trucks piled high with produce, vendors hawking goods in a regional dialect, and street foods for sale (like panelle—fried chickpea flour—gristle sandwiches, and boiled octopus with a squirt of lemon). The Vucceria market draws the most tourists, so head to Ballaro' or Capo, as the natives do. The market in Catania is also well worth a visit if you're on the island's eastern coast. You'll find swordfish with swords, silvery blue sardines in mounds, live shrimp in shells, and whole hunks of tuna that look more like beef than fish.

Sicily's western coast (south of Trapani) is decorated with windmills, flamingos, rectangular saltpans, and mounds covered with terra cotta roof tiles. Learn about the production of Sicilian salt and purchase natural, unwashed, sun-dried sea salt, at Mulino d'Infersa, off the island of Mozia—a windmill owned and restored by the Dali family. Those who stay at the Dali's B&B, La Finestra sul Sale, can breakfast in the windmill. Head farther west to the island of Pantelleria to sample another Sicilian specialty—capers. Stop by La Nicchia, the inspiration behind a line of fine products like capers, caper paste, zibibbo raisins, raisin jelly, and vegetables under oil available online. Customer demand prompted Gianni Busetta to sell his fine ingredients, but they're still no match to a dinner of fish couscous under the pergola at his restaurant.

The Tasca d'Almerita's winery, Regaleali, was the force behind a renaissance for Sicilian wine, and remains the best place to sample the fruits of Sicily's vineyards. Attend Countess Anna Tasca Lanza's cooking program, The World of Regaleali, for an introduction to the winery and Sicilian cooking. Participants stay on the estate, tour the vegetable garden and vineyards, watch cheese making with milk from Regaleali's sheep, eat bread baked in a wood-burning oven, and cook with a down-to-earth countess who cares about culinary tradition. You can also sample all Tasca d'Almerita's wines at their elegant resort, Capofaro, on the island of Salina, in the midst of Malvasia vineyards overlooking the sea.

Osteria Antica Marina
Via Pardo 29
Tel. +39-095-348-197
Closed Wednesday

Mulino d'Infersa
La Finestra sul Sale
Contrada Ettore Infersa n. 158
91025 Marsala (TP)
Tel. +39-0923-966-936
Fax +39-0923-733-142

La Nicchia
Via Messina, 22
91017 Pantelleria (Trapani)
Tel. +39-923-912-968

Regaleali Estate
Contrada Regaleali 90020
Sclafani Bagni (PA)
Tel. +39-0921-544011
Fax +39-0921-542783

Via Faro, 3
98050 Salina Isole Eolie (Me)
Tel. +39-090-98-44-330
Fax +39-090-98-44-339

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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