Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trip to Sicily (October 2013)...First night and first morning in Etna

Breakfast at Villa Nerri in Etna

October 23 (Wed)

We left Noto in the early evening.

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In about 2 hours, we were in Etna. We checked in at our beautiful resort hotel. The sky was so beautiful with all the stars. Some of us even saw shooting stars.

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My room was gorgeous with a huge bathroom. I was so happy that we were going to stay at this resort for 2 nights.

October 24 (Thurs)

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We had a real beautiful morning in Etna with the clear.

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The breakfast was really nice at this resort. There were Champagne and Spumante also, so I started with “belimosa” (Champagne, peach juice, and blood orange juice – my creation;-)

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After breakfast, I took a walk around the hotel. I walked up the hill of Etna mountain for a little while. In this area, they build walls and some buildings with the old volcanic rocks. I enjoyed the every scenery.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trip to Sicily (October 2013)...Sicilian dessert tasting at Caffe Sicilia

October 23 (Wed)

Today was all about tasting local Sicilian foods.

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We drove to Noto, which is another beautiful historic town, about 45 minutes from Modica.

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We walked through the main street to visit Caffe Sicilia, which is a family-own artisan Sicilian cafe and pastry shop. It was established in 1892 and currently run by chef Corrado Assenza, who is the 4th generation of its family.

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Corrado waited for us to give a special tasting session of his desserts! His philosophy is to make everything in natural way. Everything is extremely handmade and made from top quality ingredients he selects. His almond milk is made purely from 100% Romana almond from a farm he trust. It was the best almond milk I've ever tasted!

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Ruby grapefruit granita and Sicilian brioche. We were told that local people like to eat them together for breakfast. Another popular way to eat the brioche is to stuff it with gelato! I really liked that his traditional Sicilian brioche was much lighter than French kind and it was really natural.

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Then, we had a pairing of local dessert wine and cakes. The wine was 2012 Notissimo, Moscato di Noto. Each person got a plate of 1/3 cannoli, pistachio cake, and triple layer cake of red pepper, nutmeg, and ruby grapefruit filling. His cannolo was also the best kind I had in Italy! The last bite was a marzipan dessert, filled with nuts.

It was wonderful to learn about the traditional dessert by such an artisan chef.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Trip to Sicily (October 2013)...Visit to Avola Giorgio.

Harvested just a few days ago, this year's Moresca olive before blending

October 23 (Wed)

In the afternoon, we drove to just outside of Modica to visit a family-owned olive farm and olive oil producer, Avola Giorgio.

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It's a small biological and extremely artisanal farm, run by 78-year-old Giorgio. He, his wife, and daughter gave us a big welcome. In fact, we were told that he was so excited about our visit that he wore a nice shirt and a tie, instead of his regular farmer outfit. How sweet!

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The harvest of his olives ended just 2 days ago. But, he kindly saved one tree without harvesting to show us! He demonstrated how he hand-harvest the olives. It's so labor intensive. No single olive is picked with even slight damage. Giorgio was such a passionate person and he talked all about how he really cares about growing the best olives and making the best olive oil.

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We did tasting of his olive oils. He makes only 1 kind of olive oil "Furgentini" to sell. First, we had 2012 vintage. I was so amazed by how rich and flavorful it was. It was really like, pure olive juice. Then, he kindly let us taste the just harvested and pressed olive oil by Moresca variety, before it was going to be blended with Verdese variety to make "Furgentini". The color was almost like matcha (green tea)! The flavor was so serious and so rich. I was blown away. His wife kindly brought rustic buns which were filled with olive oil to snack. The simple olive oil stuffed bread was also superb.

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His olive oil production is so small, so his 2012 vintage is basically sold out, but Giorgio kindly let us buy his specially saved olive oil to take home. I bought myself a bottle and wished I could get an endless supply of it!