After driving further south on Sunday we ferried across the Straits of Messina (Scylla & Charbydis were not in evidence) to Sicily where we will spend the next 2 weeks.
Taormina, the super chic and expensive resort town perched on cliffs overlooking Mt. Etna was our first stop and our first night was at the quiet, off the beaten track, Osteria Nero D'Avola (named for the famous red grape of the region). The outdoor terrace was beautiful, save for the bees that kept bothering Will & Samuel, but ultimately as the sun set and the moon rose (FB photo) they let us eat in peace. The 82 evening temperature seemed cool with a nice sea breeze as the bells of St. Pancras chimed for a local celebration.
Will started with Pulpo Fiction which was a monstrous and delicious portion of octopus topped with paprika for spice, while I loved my Cozze gratinata al finocchietto delvatico, pinoli, uva passa e zafferano a magnificent dish of local mussels seasoned with breadcrumbs, fennel (very mild), pine nuts sultanas and saffron.
Samuel started with the Eggplant Parmigiana which he ordered to avoid more pasta, but said was just as rich, yet delicious.
A bottle of Zahara Grillo, Case di Grazia 2016 was fruit forward with gooseberries, but turned to citrus as we let the chilly wine warm a bit. It was our first Sicilian white in Sicily and we intend to have many more. Indeed we moved on to a spectacular chardonnay 2015 from the famous Regaleali Vigna San Francesco called Sicilia Contea di Scalafari that was superb with our main fish courses.
Three types of olive oil were poured with bread but we tried them without first to truly experience the flavors:
Monte Etna Romano was the lightest from the nearby volcano slopes on the east coast, followed by No. 1 Lorenzo, a Cerasuola olive from Trapani on the west coast (where we go later on) and Letizia from Monte Iblei in the south which was pepper intense and really needed bread or food (I wish I had that on my boring salad today at lunch!).
Samuel had the Trofie Pasta with Zucchini & Mint for his main course, and it was novel but quite delicious.
Will's pasta was Sicilian macaroni (longer and thinner than ours at home, as it was in Basilicata the other day) with a sausage ragu and I had the richest Spaghetti ai ricci di mare e bottarga di tonna which was sea urchin sauce with tune bottarga that was salty, rich, creamy and divine!
Will and I had fish for main courses (Sam skipped) and Will's Spada Siciliana was a gorgeous local swordfish (the #1 fish dish on the isle) while mine was Spatola (or silverfish) gratinata con istacchio di Bronte escorza di limone and I have to say the pistachio crumble (from the slopes of Etna) was an amazing treat with the lemon zest.
We couldn't even fathom dessert, so tonight we shall rethink having do many courses....maybe not!