We stayed at the Locanda COS, attractive, moderately priced suites, with a mini-bar of COS wine. There is a swimming pool and a pittosporum (Japanese cheesewood) maze in the backyard. Giusto's sister Angela is appropriately named; she is an angel in the kitchen and prepares meals for guests by reservation.
She made a simple lunch of local salumi, ricotta baked on lemon leaves drizzled with extra virgin and pepper, orange and anchovy salad, cheese, and fruit since we had dinner plans. We drank Cerasuolo di Vittoria, which was simply delicious. I ordered wine from Giusto for home and begged Angela for her orange salad recipe.
Photo by Faith Willinger
Suzanne made a watercolor of the olive harvest outside our front door. I read guidebooks as I am always on the lookout for interesting activities. Then Vito joined us to navigate to the fishing village of Scoglitti, which is no easy task.
There, we had dinner at Ristorante Sakalleo, owned by Pinuccia Strano, the "S" of COS, who left the winery to open this fantastic restaurant with her ex-fisherman husband Pasquale Ferrara. There is no written menu but after a few questions--"Raw fish and seafood? Allergies? Aversions? Dietary restrictions?"--platters of fish and seafood appetizers appear.
We enjoyed raw sea urchins, red shrimp, marinated anchovies, filleted catch of the day, and cooked squidlets, shrimp, octopus, scabbard fish, mussels and clams, cooked anchovies, fish fritters, tuna "sausage", and more. Skip the primi; risotto and pasta disappoint and are not necessary. Those with hearty appetites should continue with fried or roast fish. I also recommend COS's white wine, Rami'. Cannoli anyone? [Ristorante Sakalleo, piazza Cavour 12, Scoglitti, tel. 0932-871-688, closed Mondays]
We visited Giusto's nieces, Arianna and Faustina Occhipinti at their farm. They, too, are architects and their spectacularly under-restored house is filled with interesting objects. Sicilian pottery, books, and wine bottles fill their home. The dining table is covered with piles of paper, samples, clutter that I can relate to. Arianna's fervent about natural wines, and her winery is small, without barriques. Instead, her wine ferments in stainless steel or large oak casks.
We tasted wine from the latest harvest in the cantina, a work in progress, delightfully grapy. Back to the living room, Faustina showed me her line of Sicilian products: jars of almonds, olives, oregano, and capers that were brined but not packed in liquid or salt. I did my Christmas shopping. Then we tasted her just-pressed oils, Pantarei, made from Sicilian cultivar Tonda Iblea and Gheta with Nocellara dl Belice. We had almonds and white wine from a farmer who Arianna advises in a plastic bottle. It was rustic, fun, and perfect for the moment.
We then moved to the kitchen, where Faustina was preparing lunch with produce straight from the garden. We feasted on golden Sicilian bread with just-pressed oil, pasta with Sicilian cauliflower and almonds, sautéed mustard greens with garlic, Ragusano cheese, and pears with walnuts and honey. We drank Arianna's Frappato and SP 68, a Frappato-Nero d'Avola blend. Great sign--Arianna's wines resemble her--easy-going, ultra-Sicilian, totally original. I ordered wine, once again. Faustina promised me a recipe but has not yet delivered. When she does I will add it.
Next stops on the Grand Tour: Archeological Museum in the ugliest city in Sicily, tour of Licata, closed museum, unexpected book collection, trattoria lunch with old and new friends to celebrate forks and stars, a cloistered convent in Gattopardo country and more.
Recipe: Angela Occhipinti's Orange Salad
This week, she visits Vittoria and Scoglitti.