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  • Palermo good-eating

Palermo, That Good-Eating Town

Date: August 21, 2015 - categories: , - 2 Comments

Nino’s uncle, Zio Toto’, put it this way: “if you come here, you’ll return….to eat,” adding, “Here, you can eat at all hours…everywhere.” He was talking about Palermo, for me, “Good-Eating Capital of the World.” But he could have been talking about his nephew Nino’s Campofelice country house (about an hour east of Palermo, overlooking the Mediterranean) where Nino and his wife, Maria (both palermitani), head for the month of August.

Campofelice, about an hour east of Palermo

Campofelice, about an hour east of Palermo

Nino and Maria’s small house on the hill

Nino and Maria’s small house on the hill

View from Nino’s house

View from Nino’s house

When Maria’s not taking a kitchen break crocheting on the veranda, she’s at the burners creating wonders for lunches, then for dinners with the produce Nino – and his two bachelor elderly uncles (“gli zii”) – grow on the land around the house. Their small stucco house is surrounded by olive trees, tangerine, orange and lemon trees. Prickly pear stands tall, too, in the groves, huge spiky leaves like giant green paddles smacking the blue sky.

Gli zii

Gli zii

Prickly pears

Prickly pears

Nino, about to pick some of that prickly fruit

Nino, about to pick some of that prickly fruit

A visit to Nino – Pino’s childhood friend – and Maria is always a stop for us on our August Palermo visits. The elderly zii will always be there, too, living together now in a Campofelice apartment but also with a house nearby on the land. Three crates of eggplants, peppers, chili peppers and tomatoes in a corner of the veranda are sign their passione for the land, its goodness – of how they like to pass their summer days.

Crates of eggplants, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes:  fruit of the labors of Nino and his zii

Crates of eggplants, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes: fruit of the labors of Nino and his zii

In the pasta sauce Maria made for our lunch, eggplants joined their tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil and olive oil, ground local sausage added, too. A huge bowl of just-grated caciocavallo cheese was there for sprinkling on top, flanked by a plate of ricotta di pecora (sheep’s milk ricotta) for those wishing to add a dollop on top of the pasta. I did: wherever we go, I sample the local ricotte di pecora. This one was from the Madonie mountains, rocky rib towering off in the distance – an area of shepherds.

Maria serves up her pasta goodness

Maria serves up her pasta goodness

Eggplant pasta sauce with a dollop of ricotta di peccara

Eggplant pasta sauce with a dollop of ricotta di peccara

Ricotta di pecora from the Madonie mountains:  the best I have ever had

Ricotta di pecora from the Madonie mountains: the best I have ever had

Backing Campofelice, the mountain majesty of the Madonie

Backing Campofelice, the mountain majesty of the Madonie

To date: best ricotta di pecora ever.

But no lunch with Nino, Maria and gli zii – and Nino’s mamma, Rosalia joined us, too – ends with pasta: Nino and his uncles always have the fire going for grilled meats. Sizzling sausages and grilled chicken crowded the grill nudging up to Maria’s involtini. Che bontà! Maria’s Sicilian “wraps” are prize-winners: very thin veal slices filled with a tasty mixture of bread crumbs, caramelized onions, pine nuts, tiny Sicilian currants (la passolina), Sicilian cheeses only (caciocavallo and primo sale).

Grilled sausages, chicken and Maria’s buonissimi involtini

Grilled sausages, chicken and Maria’s buonissimi involtini

Nino and Zio Totò at the grill

Nino and Zio Totò at the grill

Nino, master at the grill

Nino, master at the grill

Signora Rosalia, Nino’s mamma, joined in the feasting, too

Signora Rosalia, Nino’s mamma, joined in the feasting, too

family-lunching

Maria served peperonata and caponata as tasty side dishes. She even offered stuffed baby eggplants for those who had room (no one!).

Peperonata and caponata  for side dishes

Peperonata and caponata for side dishes

Baby stuffed eggplants….for anyone with room!

Baby stuffed eggplants….for anyone with room!

polpette

Other local sheep’s milk Sicilian cheeses were on the table, too: tuma and primintio. (So good that before we left to head back to Palermo, Nino took us into Campofelice to buy some – and not only!).

Tasty cheeses we bought to bring home

Tasty cheeses we bought to bring home

Tasty Madonie sheep’s milk cheeses:  tuma and primintio

Tasty Madonie sheep’s milk cheeses: tuma and primintio

Peeled prickly pears (peeling them is an art – Nino has mastered it) for dessert.

Prickly pears: tricky to peel..but so tasty!

Prickly pears: tricky to peel..but so tasty!

A rest for all on the veranda – and then a swim in the Mediterranean for Pino and me before we headed back to Palermo.

A swim before we headed back to Palermo

A swim before we headed back to Palermo

A taste of Campofelice was in the motorcycle trunk with our wet swimsuits: Maria had wrapped up cherry tomatoes from their garden and chili peppers.

What goodness to bring back to Palermo with us!

What goodness to bring back to Palermo with us!

chili-peppers

Click here to read about Sicily seafood goodness
Read about both sea and seafood splendor of western Sicily
Read about a not-to-miss find of western Sicily
Read about good eating in Trapani, near San Vito
Read about the magical island of Marettimo
Read more on Marettimo
Read about a top Marettimo attraction
Read more on Palermo good-eating
Click here to read about Palermo flavors
Read about another Sicilian treat with Arab roots
Read more on Palermo street food
Read more on our Sicily adventures (and a recipe)
Palermo stays always mean “good eating”

2 Comments

  • Janine Belveal says:

    What a delightful trip to Sicily! I could see some similarities with food prepared by my Sicilian grandmother. Anne, your commentary, descriptions and pictures are outstanding.

  • Fran Pasetti says:

    I was thrilled by your photos, Anne. I can imagine our relatives in Santo Stefano Quisquina, a little south of Palermo, enjoying the same summer bounty of fruit and vegetables.

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