We arrived in the amazing hilltop town of Ragusa after a long day of touring, but knowing this was going to be a special experience. We were booked into the luxury suite which was in a cave over the restaurant with it's own garden terrace and Jacuzzi. Add that to a two Michelin star restaurant downstairs with Chef Vincenzo Candiano at the helm and an amazing staff with Stefano as manager and Carmello as sommelier, you have one of the finest dining experiences possible in Sicily, probably tutta l'Italia!
We had the option of dining inside or out and while the view is superb, inside the cave was air conditioned and the huge tables with comfy plexiglass chairs were so separated, there was amazing privacy no matter where you were. Ultimately, we realized that we were the only guests all night and this made us fell so special and honored indeed.
After much decision we opted for a 6 course tasting menu (120Euros=$135) and Samuel choose some of the veggie items that he liked and was super happy as well.
First came an amuse of Codfish(no fish for Sam) brandade, tomato gazpacho and peach. Cod can be salty, but this was not at all, and we loved the Planeta Etna Brut Carricante Sparkling wine that Carmello proferred with such joy as we said we would let him choose at the wines from his amazing cellar, which we visited before the meal. The breads of cocoa, rustic, whole wheat, sundried tomato and divine thyme breadsticks (eat your heart out Jacques Pepin, as your Oceania breadsticks were often soggy!) were amazing as was the EVOO Tonda Iblea (the local region) which was peppery in the mouth, but not at the back of the throat as some EVOO's can.
Our first course was "Maki" of couscous topped with salmon roe in nori with a "see through"Ravioli made from thin cucumber filled with grouper tartare and a delicious oyster with fennel seaweed in sorbet like foam. All three were refreshing treats and so wonderfully conceived as well as beautifully presented (see FB fotos!). Samuel was treated to a dish of tomato, almond cream and plankton!!
Samuel next had an Egg IN Tomato with Cacio Cavllo Cheese & Foam Basil which he declared a revelation as the poached egg was intact inside the tomato!!
Our next course was Red King Prawns, Mazzara & Onion Cream with Spinach, Candied Lemon and Licorice (which was so mild I could not taste it, as you all know I don't like licorice). The head on prawns were superb and the wine was an amazing Cattarato "Beleda: 2012 from Rallo in Marsala, where we shall head later this week.
Our third course was Spaghetti (really more like squared off pasta) with squid ink, ricotta, sea urchin and cuttlefish that was simply divine and the best urchin pasta dish we had so far. Neromascalese Rosematte from Faro DOC (Messina) was an interesting choice, but we love good red wine, and the Sicilians like red with fish it seems as well.
Samuel had a shell pasta, kohlrabi, "tenerumi" and confit cherry tomato which we could not taste as it was gone so quickly, but got raves.
He was also enjoying the new local soft drink that Stefano procured in various flavors like Spuma (akin to sasparilla?).
Up fourth for Sam was a Summer Vegetable Millefoglie(millefeuille) with peppers, crusted salty zucchini, sweet onions and nuts which was nice break from bruschetta, pizza and pasta!
We had Merluzo or Group Amatriciana with onion, tomato, pureed potato and Pecorino Romano. I have to say that if in Sicily, eat fish, eat fish, eat fish.....
Wiger "Artemido" 2012 Cab Franc from Etna is served chilled as are many red wines in Sicily and we loved this mineral intense franc unlike any other we have ever had anywhere. A brilliant fish pairing for sure!
The first dessert was Peach Bellini, but before this we had little sponges in water to clean our hands. The dessrt had a yummy crunch and was paired with Mimi Spumante from Ragusa, a local treat.
The final dessert was called Irminio's Valley after the local site and we had a milk river running through it with honey cream, almond crumble and carob ice cream. Paired with a yummy Marsala 1994 Florio Targa Riserva Superiore semi-seco that was a rare treat for sure.
More arrived in the form of raspberry/strawberry macaroons, chocolate and almond biscuits, pistachio/black pepper biscuits and a feeling of just right for the entire meal as we walked up the steps to our "cave" after many photos with the amazing team that truly excels and loves food and wine. Ragusa is a beautiful, quaint and pleasant place with SO much to see, but avoided by many tourists....don't give away the secret, but be sure to eat at Locanda Don Serafino (and stay there as well --you can book with me!).