10 amazinglicious days in Sicilia (feat. 36 fantabulous hours in Roma)

I don’t even know where to start‘ was in my mind when I sat down to write about our trip to Sicily, or Sicilia, and 9 months have passed since then. I’ve finally decided to finish thing post, and now I get to relive it! So, here we go.

My all-time favorite movie is Cinema Paradiso directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. While I absolutely love the music by Ennio Morricone, what most appeals to me in the movie is the small town where Toto and Alfredo share their friendship. Most scenes were filmed in Palazzo Adriano, a remote town located between Palermo and Agrigento. Visiting Sicilia and going to that little town was one of my biggest dreams and dreams do come true!

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As we were approaching Palazzo Adriano, my heart started to pound like crazy. Everything there was just as they were in the movie. No time seemed to have passed in this little town. We were guided into a little “museum” at THE square; as soon as the lady who led us there turned on the music from the movie, I LOST IT. I am guessing she’s seen quite a few people like me before, because she just had this smile on her face and said nothing. Just thinking about that day makes me tear up right now. 

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Alfredo’s bike was still there, pictures of famous scenes from the movie were hanging up on the wall. I honestly could have spent the whole day sitting at a corner at the square, sipping on espresso, talking to some old folks there and would have been completely happy. Then again, we had some food to eat!

Now, back to the point: FOOD. Aside from all things we loved about Sicilia, here’s what we ate, in the order it was devoured!

1. Palemo fish.pngTrattoria da Salvo (Corso Tukory 156, 90134, Palermo, Sicily, Italy) – Fish, fresh seafood, grilled and lightly seasoned. That’s it. And that’s all we needed.

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Antica Gelateria Lucchese (Piazza S. Domenico, 11, 90133 Palermo PA, Italy) – One gelato a day is a must and we religiously followed that rule! The most incredible flavor was pistachio, which tasted completely different from what I am used to tasting in 14,000 year old store bought crap in the States….!

3. Palermo market.pngMercato della Vucciria (Via Coltellieri, 90133 Palermo PA, Italy) – Markets are the best. Fresh ingredients, lots to munch, so many stories.

Palermo Food Tour (Foodies of Palermo through AirBnb) – I strongly recommend taking this food tour on your day 1 in Palermo. Our guide Salvo was extremely knowledgeable and witty. Not only did he give us delicious food, he also took us everywhere and told us so much about the city and the people. Things we ate: pani ca meusa (spleen sandwich, yes, you heard me correctly), gelato in brioche (it’s a thing, and it’s a beautiful thing), panelle (Sicilian fritters made with chickpea flour), arancini (deep-fried stuffed rice balls), sfincione (Sicilian pizza), Sicilian wine and OLIVES!

6. Palermo fish shop.png(Oh, did I mention that Italian guys are super hot?! I repeat, Italian men are HOT! I wanted to buy all the fish he had in his fish shop. Prego.)

11. cefalu.pngLocanda del Marinaio (Via Porpora, 5, 90015 Cefalù PA, Italy) – Every single pasta dish on this trip was cooked just perfectly. Cefalu is such a perfect daytrip destination if you are looking for something to do near Palermo. The romantic train ride from Palermo to Cefalu will take you to this shoreside town full of charm.

12. palazzo adriano.pngRistorante Pizzeria Del Viale (Via Venti Settembre 2, 90030 Palazzo Adriano, Sicily Italy) – This is the only restaurant in Palazzo Adriano and this IS the best restaurant. The cook/owner did not speak a word of English. She kept asking us questions with some hand gestures and we just said, “si, si”. We ended up with too much food; or is there such a thing as too much food if that food is absolutely delish…!

13. agrigento.pngOutdoor Cafeteria at the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy) – This actually makes me kind of sad. Even cafeteria salads in Sicilia tasted amazing. It’s the ingredients. A fresh, well-grown tomato does not need any seasoning or sauce. I really enjoyed my meal at this cafeteria with the beautiful Greek ruins behind me. Why can’t we get this food quality/freshness at home?

14. turkish steps.pngLounge Beach Scala dei Turchi (Strada Provinciale 68, 182, 92010, Realmonte, Sicily, Italy) – Scala dei Turchi (aka Turkish Steps) is a gorgeous white rock cliff. A scene from the movie Malena (another great movie!) was also filmed here. While gazing at the natural beauty, a sip of aperol spritz is just perfect.

 

Antonio’s AirBnb Cottage (Canicatti, Sicily, Italy) – Antonio hosts guest from all over the world in his charming home located in this little town. With a very reasonable extra fee, he will cook for you and HE CAN COOK! This 10 course dinner consisted of a few local goat cheeses paired with pistachio cream and homemade jams, a pasta dish, an eggplant dish, a couple of seafood dishes, a couple of desserts including the cactus fruit and wine and booze! Homemade food at its finest! If you are headed west from Agrigento, his place is definitely worth a stop just for the food itself.

17. modica.pngBottega Sicula (Corso Umberto I, 128, 97015 Modica RG, Italy) – A quick sweet fix on our way to Siracusa from Ragusa. On this trip, we found a hidden sweet tooth side of my I-am-not-a-dessert-person hubby. Oh, did we crush this thing.

 

I Monasteri Golf Resort & Spa (Traversa Monasteri di Sotto, 3, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy) – A hotel restaurant isn’t usually my first choice of a meal, but every single meal at this place was unbelievable! Also, the fox. The first night we walked out to the outdoor dining area, we saw an animal around tables. I was thinking, ‘no way that’s a fox,’ and asked the waiter. “What is that?” “It’s a fox.” What an oddly awesome experience! Magical things happen in Sicilia.

 

Caffe Sicilia (Corso Vittorio Emanuele 125 96017 Noto, Italy ) – Just before our trip to Sicilia, Netflix released their new episode of Chef’s Table introducing this pastry shop. I was watching the episode drooling, but also said to myself, “terrible timing.” I wanted to go there before it was filled with tourists from the TV craze. Well, it wasn’t that bad after all, and everything there was completely heavenly indeed. Canoli, cassata, and the almond granita……. Mmm……………………………. I could still feel the texture in my mouth…….

 

Caseificio Borderi (Via Emmanuele de Benedictis, 6, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy) – If you are in Siracusa, you have to stand in line for an hour, starve yourself, let the sandwich maker tease you with a piece of meat or cheese right before you die of hunger and then stuff your face with a ginormous sandwich at this place. Andrea is such a character. He’s a talker. I really wished I could speak Italian while standing in line, because people giggled and laughed every time he said something – even the intimidating looking uomini did, too. The sandwich buns are almost invisible by the time they are loaded with layers of fresh ingredients. Deliciousness overload! A visit to Siracusa won’t be complete without eating a sandwich here.

21 taormina.pngOsteria Villa Zuccaro (Corso Umberto, I 38, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy) – We had not eaten any pizza until we got to Taormina. There’s so much more than pizza and pasta in Sicilia, but pizza is damn good! The crust was just exquisite.

La Capinera (Via Nazionale, 177, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy) – This Michelin star restaurant is a short taxi ride from the busy town center. It was a chilly night and we got to have the whole outdoor dining section by the water to ourselves for a while. Impeccable service, great food and excellent wine pairing. Chef Pietro D’Agostino came out to the table and explained about every single dish we had. We totally spoiled ourselves here. One of the best meals on this trip!

23 taormina.pngLido Il Delphino (Via Nazionale 140 | Fraz. Mazzarò, 98039, Taormina, Sicily, Italy) – There is no such thing as a bad meal in Sicilia. Italian people in general seem to take pride in their food (as they should). Without Yelping or anything, we walked into random restaurants we ran into and the food was always delicious. I read somewhere that Italian people don’t really care about the Michelin star status; ‘why should someone else tell us how good our already-great-food is’? I totally get it.

 

Aloha Mare (Via Lungo Mare 102, Bivio per Savoca, 98028 Santa Teresa di Riva, Sicily, Italy) – Leaving Savoca, where the famous wedding scene from the Godfather was filmed, we asked some local people where we could find good seafood. And this place hit the spot. Seafood in Sicilia is unquestionably the best. Again, it’s so fresh. They don’t overseason it, overcook it or smother it with heavy sauce. As a huge seafood lover, Sicilia was a utopia.

 

Quattrochchiacchiere (Via Monsignor Domenico Orlando, 13, 95126 Catania CT, Italy) – We did not get to do much in Catania, but we always manage to have a nice meal fit in our schedule. The staff at Airone Hotel gave a couple of recommendations for dinner for our last night in Sicilia. The salumi board had way too much meat and cheese for two of us, but every single bite was absolutely delightful. Then, our main course, mortadella and pistachio pizza, came out. I had never seen such a combination before, or I had never tasted anything that delicious before…! On this trip, I fell in love with mortadella. Mortadella is amazing; well-made one. Duh.

27 rome.pngAfter 10 amazinglicous days in Sicilia, we had 36 hours in Rome before our return. It wasn’t enough time to see everything Rome has to offer, so we decided to do a quick e-bike tour and watch a football (if you call it soccer, that’s fine too) game. Some luck we had, though. That one day happened to be the notorious Derby della Capitale (Roma Derby) day! After these beautiful looking slices of pizza, we went into the stadium for the our grand finale of our trip. Roma Derby itself is an experience you don’t want to miss!

This trip was definitely more than just eating good food, even though food was by far the best part of it. We might have been to a couple of dozens of restaurants but, the sad thing is, there are still so much more that we didn’t get to dine at. I would love to go back to Sicilia someday.

Should you want to know more about our trip, please feel free to reach out to me: Twitter or Instagram. Prego!

Retirement gift – delicious trip to Montreal! 

I still remember our trip to Montreal and Quebec City very vividly…! That was such a treat so my husband and I decided to plan a delicious trip there for our parents this time. We all deserve to spoil ourselves after retirement! 


The retirement gift package included: tourist guide and map (available here), a gift certificate to Schwartz’s Deli, a gift certificate to St-Viateur Bagel, and a hotel voucher to Omni Mont-Royal

Special thanks to the restaurants and the hotel for their great hospitality! Merci beaucoup!

Hope the folks enjoy Montreal as much as we did! To all those who worked hard all their lives and have retired, cheers! 

The Pit is the $h!t!

I usually try to avoid franchises and look for a hole in the wall and underrated mom and pop restaurants in new places. When I asked people for the best BBQ in Raleigh, NC this weekend, they all gave me this name, “The Pit.” I was a little reluctant to go at first cuz that’s what EVERYONE recommended but, oh boy, didn’t that place just blow my mind.

The Pit
328 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 890-4500

They give you complimentary biscuits and hush puppies to begin with. Each item on their menu looked amazing but they offer this three course family style all-you-can-eat option so we went for it. You get to choose two appetizers, two entrees, two sides and a dessert.

Here are things we got.

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Fried green tomatoes, cornbread, collard greens, fried okra, baby back ribs, pulled pork, sweet tea and banana pudding!

I gotta say that it was the best BBQ that I’ve had in the last decade! The meat was cooked perfect. I am usually not a “saucy” person but I was pretty much licking the baby back rib sauce off the serving plate at the end of the night.

I can’t help emphasizing how great the banana pudding was. OMG is my review. I’d never tasted any desserts that delicious in my whole life. One item you must try!

So, please spread the word! All of us deserve some amazing food! When in North Carolina, go dine at The Pit!

[Restaurant Review] Sushi Naru – Alexandria, VA

▣ Location: 540 John Carlyle St., Alexandria, VA 22314

▣ Tel: 703-535-5540

▣ Sushi / Roll / Asian Cuisine

▣ Yelp Rating: ★★★★☆ (as of July 25, 2012) – Click stars for more info!

 

I work in Alexandria, VA. Even though I work right off King Street, which is full of great restaurant options, I try not to go too far because I have so much S*** to do every day!!!

Me and my girls today decided to go back to this sushi restaurant nearby AGAIN because we all loved it so much last week. Sushi Naru!

I’ve never been there for dinner but according to one of the attorneys in my office, this place has some amazing tofu salad. Anyway, we get their lunch buffet.

Not only do they have fantabulous sushi/roll options, but they also have a “hot food” section – bulgogi, lomein, fried tofu, mussels, dumplings, and heavenly miso soup! Miss F (not gonna mention her full name) had never had miso soup in her life until this afternoon. She fell in love with it, had two full bowls of it and she still couldn’t stop talking about it. That’s how darn good it was! Another good thing about this place is that you can accommodate lots of different needs – meat lovers, seafood lovers, and even vegetarians!

They are very hospitable and quick to serve you. It gets quite hectic during their lunch buffet hours, but that’s a good sign. And one thing about this place is that it doesn’t feel cheap. I am sad to say this but some Asian all-you-can-eat places could be kinda (or sometimes REALLY) crappy. However, it actually feels nice to sit there and enjoy your meal at Sushi Naru. My girls were all about their lamps, whether they could be from IKEA or Crate and Barrel.

I might go there for dinner to see what it’s like some time soon!

Next time you are near King Street, come check this place out. You might catch me with my coworkers talking about very important stuff like “where did you get those cute earrings?” 😉

 

Asian Festival DC 2012

 

ASIANFestival 2012

☆ Where: GMU in Fairfax

☆ When: July 21, 2012~July 22, 2012

☆ Best Part: Are you kidding me? FOOD!

I am not gonna lie. I knew nothing about this even until this morning and I just randomly saw what one of my tweeps posted “… at the Asian Festival…” when I was trying to figure out what to get for lunch. And to be completely honest, I still have no clue what this festival is all about. However, I do know that it comes back every year and they have great, fun food selections there!

The food picture up there is Liang Mian (涼麵), a kind of chinese noodle dish, which literally means ‘cold noodles’. These gingery, vinegary noodles were only ONE DOLLAR! Nothing in this world is a dollar these days even at the dollar store after taxes! The portion was really small but when you are there, you want to go for variety rather than “quantity”!

Lunch consisted of: Dosa (Indian crepe with dips), Liang Mian (Chinese cold noodles), Dinuguan (Filipino meat dish… I didn’t know exactly what it was but I just found out when I got home.. Click the link.. Might be a little disturbing ;)) and Gway Teow (My all-time favorite noodle soup from Thailand – It’s gonna be another post when I get the recipe down).

If you missed it today, check it out tomorrow! If you can’t make it this year, you know where to go back next year! Happy weekend!!