Sometimes the best laid plans are the ones you make that morning, after Modica coffee, or inside a stunning Baroque cathedral. Not months prior while eating leftover General Tso’s Chicken. To Noto or Not to Noto was the question I’ve been wrestling with the most during planning. Decision was final, until Mrs Ziggy, suffering from a small case of ‘Fish called Wanda‘ syndrome, asked me time and again.. “why arent we going to Noto? Italian men with Italian accents are telling me I should go to Noto”. And so its back to To Noto. And while in beautiful but Baroque Disney Landish Noto, escaping the heat inside that stunning Cathedral (picture below), another thought crossed my mind. Instead of having lunch in Baroque Disney, we will have lunch at the old fishing village of Marzememi, 20 minutes away. Its been 36 hours since our last seafood meal, and my left arm is starting to twitch ever so slightly.
The old village of Marzamemi, a sleeping beauty, where once tuna was trapped and tortured by the numbers. One of the first and most important ‘Tonnaras’ on the island, though the practice is no more (Thanks Obama!). Today, two shirtless men collect two euros to watch your car, restaurants are lined up along the shore, and the old center is now as picturesque as fishing villages get. Surprisingly fairly quiet during the day, even in the high summer. Action picks up at night I was told by our host at Modica. And nice sandy beaches (a luxury on this island) are minutes away in San Lorenzo
But the highlight of the day, as often is the case in Italy, was lunch at Al Boccone. A huge deck overlooking the ocean, with an English speaking young waiter who really cared about our enjoyment. We found this common all over Sicily – owners, workers were grateful and humble that YOU chose THEM, and they are on a mission for you not to regret. An appetizer mix of local specialties including a fine smoked swordfish. Another assortment of cheese and salami was forgettable. Calamari Siciliano was a revelation of sorts, two huge squid stuffed with bread crumbs, more squid, pine nuts and more deliciousness, served in a stew like fashion with tomato and onions. Excellent fresh grilled Amberjack was like a more succulent swordfish. A Busiate-like Trofie (surprised to see Trofie pasta in the part) with tomatoes, basil, pistachio, big shrimp, little shrimp, medium shrimp (top picture) was well balanced and quite exceptional. The one dish I didn’t care for much was spaghetti with bottarga, which tasted incredibly strong after sampling the other dishes (tho oldest didnt mind so much). Fantastic lunch in a most picturesque village
Sicily in July! You are a braver soul than I am. Some of these place you’ve been I haven’t, and they look simply gorgeous. Food is wonderful there, no? For me, it’s truly less about the restaurants or the varying level of skills among the cooks as to the entire experience, an immersion. I feel like Sicilians live so close to the earth and sea, still. Animals everywhere. Shephereds (goatherds). Food, even if the cooks aren’t the greatest or most sophisticated, is usually shockingly fresh. Best ricotta of my life in Siracusa. The smells and sights of Sicily everywhere you go just penetrate the flavor of the food, and the happiness of the food stays with you everywhere you go.
On a less exalted note, busiate is made by wrapping small bits of pasta dough around a very thin skewer, then slipping it off, while trofie is just rubbed between the palms or fingers. It’s possible that the same greeks who probably gave trofie its name in Liguria also made it in Sicily, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if it simply migrated to the Trapani area because of Ryan air. But true too that there appears to be an historic culinary similarity between Genoa and that part of Sicily, even though the pesto ingredients are different, they are both still one of the few places in Italy that relies so heavily on pesto methods for sauces.
Hope you got a chance to eat in some home cooked meals. Those are my favorite memories of Sicily’s food (and that ricotta).