Cooking and Wines in Sicily

Sicily not only is a beautiful and dreamy spot of the world to visit but, if you are a food lover it is also a wonderful place from which to take some cooking inspiration. Sicily has been a crossroad of cultures since antiquity. Its foods confirm the influence of Arabia, Africa, Eastern and Western Europe. It is sometimes nicknamed God's Kitchen because of abundance of grapes, grains fresh vegetables, fruits and legumes. This perpetual supply of fresh fruits and vegetables combined with every freshly caught fish from the teeming waters of surrounding coastlines and excellent extra virgin olive oil form the basis of Sicilian cooking and makes it one of the world's healthiest cuisine. Although commonly associated with sea food cuisine along the coast, meat dishes including goose, lamb, goat  and turkey are also found in Sicily especially if you move further inland. It was the Normans who first introduced a fondness for meat dishes to the island while spices used were introduced by the Arabs such as the art of making confections, combining nuts and fruits with sugar and honey.


Cooking 546Another Sicilian excellence is wine. Sicily has more vineyards than any of the other Italian regions competing with Apulia for the first place as the largest wine producer. Wine accounts for 15% of Sicily's agricultural production. There are literally vineyards everywhere, along the sea, on the slopes of hills, mountains and volcanoes. The high-altitude of some Sicilian vineyards creates climatic conditions similar to northern regions, with the advantage of much more sunlight. Harvest generally starts as early as July, but finishes only in November. With such a climate, one can understand why Sicily is the winemaking region of Italy covered with more vineyards than any other region of Italy.

Extra virgin olive oil

oliveThe fabulous climate and environmental conditions makes Sicily an important region in the cultivation of prized DOP olives. Thousands of acres of Sicilian soil are dedicated to olive groves. The region produces about 10% of all Italian olive oil  and is 3rd largest among Italian olive oil producing regions. It now has 3 DOP (Protected Designation of Origin). olive oil areas: DOP Mt Iblei, DOP Valle Trapanese and DOP Val di Mazara, with 2 or 3 other areas awaiting certification.

The main varieties of olive cultivated in Sicily are the Nocellara del Belice (Trapani), Cerasuola (Agrigento), Tonda Iblea (Ragusa), Moresca (Ragusa), Nocellara Messinese (Messina), Nocellara Etnea (Catania) and Biancolilla.

The Biancolilla olive tree is cultivated prevalently in Sicily. The trees resemble an umbrella shape: large but not to high which allows for easing hand picking.  Its broad branches produce a large yield of fruit and thus olive oil. Once mature, the olives become yellow with pinkish accents and are medium in size. Cultivated in eastern Sicily, Monte Etna olive oil is produced at the base of the volcano Etna, Catania, Enna and Messina. It has a slightly fruity smell and flavor, with a light spicy bitter touch, with a yellow-gold color with green reflections.

Due to its fruity flavor, Monte Etna olive oil is an ideal condiment, either raw or on fresh vegetables, wild-herbs salads or cooked on boiled vegetables and vegetables soups as well as roasted fish.

The best way to enjoy an extra virgin olive oil, is to taste it in drops on a small part of homemade bread, as used by the major tasters, or simply enjoy it on tongue, to savoring all its virtues.


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