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Sicily in Bites

Sicily sits proudly in the Mediterranean, aware of its plentiful charms. Its cuisine is one of these. Not only is it self-supplied from its splendid larder, it provides the whole of Italy with its produce. Fresh market garden produce, fish, wines and confectionery which, although available across half the globe, taste that much better when savoured in situ. Hence, the Grand Festival of Italian Cuisine par excellence is held on this Italian island every year with the onset of summer. This year’s Cibo Nostrum will take place from 11 to 13 June. The festival sees producers displaying their wares in street stalls, while chefs and locals swarm the precincts to explore the latest offerings and share them with whoever happens to be on the island. If you’re planning on an escape to Sicily, this event will enable you to discover its culinary splendour.

Around one hundred chefs and wine merchants will be taking part in the event, for which the attendance figures continue to grow each year. If you still don’t know what it’s like to taste a good local wine at the foot of Mt Etna or to savour oily fish followed by cannoli in the formidable Taormina, be sure not to miss out on Cibo Nostrum if you want to enjoy such moments.

Over a three-day period, which will include ongoing, live culinary demonstrations, you can taste the essence of Sicilian cuisine served up on a platter. Clearly, you would need more time to discover the island more thoroughly, but Cibo Nostrum will point you in the right direction to glean the major ingredients, dishes, assortment and venues.

Must-visit restaurants include Sabir Gourmanderie, set in a priceless park on the slopes of Mt Etna, which is ideal for discovering flavours typical of the volcanic soil, and Kistè Easy Gourmet, the new eatery of chef Pietro d’Agostino in marvellous Taormina.

When in Catania, among the wine cellars with good food and the usual wine shops, we can recommend Salumeria Scollo for tasting and sampling, as well as the Etnashire wine shop on Viagrande, which also has an online store where you can order the Sicilian products of your choice. You will want to bring your suitcase back with such wines as Vigna la Miccia or Notti Stellate, a sparkling Castelluccimiano Brut or the Marsala which in Sicily pairs really well with dessert cheeses.

And, if we delve into the realm of sweet things, as that is the sort of memory you will take from the island, make a point of dropping in on the pâtisserie run by master pastry chef Corrado Assenza at Caffè Sicilia, the undisputed king of the most exquisite signature cassata (a traditional cake based on ricotta, sugar, sponge, marzipan, candied fruit and castor sugar) and cannoli (a tube-shaped confectionery filled with ricotta cream).

Book your Vueling to Catania and don’t hesitate to soak up the flavours of the island.

Text by Belén Parra of Gastronomistas.com

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