Where’s Claire? Cooking in Sicily

Mimi ON Oct 01, 2009 AT 5:00 pm

Taormina

Taormina

By Claire Tamara Yates

An interest in home cooking is becoming ‘de rigeur’ these days. Impressing family and friends with wonderful dishes at a dinner party is often not as easy as it first seems though! So why not make the most of your next mini-break and combine sun, sea and saucepans, learning a culinary skill the Italian way in Sicily.

Why Taormina?
Taormina
has been Sicily’s top tourist attraction for over a century because it is, quite simply, stunning. Perched high on the dramatic east coast of Sicily rising steeply from the Ionian Sea, it provides a truly breathtaking backdrop to experience the sights, sounds and most importantly, tastes of the island. The outline of mighty Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano, can be seen for miles around in a succession of beautiful landscapes sweeping down to the sea. Taormina has an interesting and long history, meaning the architecture speaks for itself – a 2nd Century Greek amphitheatre, fine medieval buildings, cobbled shopping streets and pretty piazzas add to the atmosphere surrounding the fine Sicilian gastronomy. 

Learn to cook in Taormina

Learn to cook in Taormina

The Cooking
After a tasty breakfast in the hotel, it was a pleasant way to start the morning with a guided tour around the local market shopping for ingredients for our cooking lesson. Our guide and restaurant owner, Angelo, spoke perfect English and proved to be an amazing host. Returning to his restaurant Licchio’s, we donned aprons and the lesson began, with an explanation of the dishes we would be making and we were all surprised to learn that we would be attempting homemade macaroni!

Our chef Maria was a typical Sicilian lady – with a hearty smile and an obvious enjoyment for her food. As she showed us, Angelo explained what to do, beginning with Caponata – a ratatouille-style dish of predominately peppers, aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes and capers. One by one, the group took turns in creating courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta, battered and deep fried. The main event – making macaroni – proved just how hard it can be to make simple food. Using an old umbrella spoke for the hole, we attempted to copy Maria and roll the handmade pasta into tubes…with varying levels of success! It was a fun and rewarding experience, especially enjoying the fruits of our labour – including raw prawns in lemon and olive oil and Costadella fish served whole with tomato and basil (which we had de-headed earlier), washed down with a lovely local Prosecco – Rosa D’Avola. Finishing with the Sicilian favourite ‘Cannoli’ (pastry stuffed with sweet ricotta), it was time to roll back to the hotel to relax and take a dip in the pool.

Click here to read part 2

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