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.

2. Palermo gelato.png

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!

[Restaurant Review] Oby Lee – Arlington, VA

▣ Location: 3000 N Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201 (Clarendon Metro)

▣ Tel: 571-257-5054

▣ Coffee / Wine / Crepe

▣ Yelp Rating: ★★★★★ (almost! 😉 as of December 27, 2012) – Click for more info!

This very hip, fun eatery / coffee house / wine bar is located a little off Clarendon Blvd in Arlington. As soon as you walk in, you sense great coffee aroma, see all the wine bottles and smell the food. The owners, Oby and Ula, are the friendliest people that you will ever meet! 🙂

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Say hi to the snowman! 🙂 The best thing about Oby Lee to me is that they KNOW coffee. Oby, the roast master, actually roasts beans himself. Even their flavored coffee drinks, including the m.a.g.i.c.a.l peanut butter cup latte, are really great! (Just talking about it makes me wanna go get it now!)

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Oby Lee is one of those places, where you get your food and drinks and, at the same time, keep looking at other people’s dishes, thinking, “Man… What is that? That looks delicious too!”

Oby_PuffinNot only do they have great breakfast options, such as the “Puffins”, they also have savory quiches to die for. Oby_quicheNot a big fan of quiches? That’s ok. Here’s what I always get! CREPES!!! The picture below is their roasted chicken salad crepe, which is served with baby green salad. You can see them make it with the cool crepe maker and it’s really fun. Oby_Crepe_ChickenEven when I drop by after dinner, I get this crepe below! Strawberry and whipped cream crepe! It’s very berry delicious! I one day took some of my friends and they LOVED the banana nutella crepe. That’s right. Bananas + Nutella = Heaven!Oby_Crepe_StrawberryThere’s one reason why other “coffee & wine” places around here can’t beat Oby Lee. WINE FOUNTAIN! I love thee, fountain. I am not a much of a drinker. However, I enjoy sipping on wine. The problem usually is that I end up getting drunk after a half glass. Oby Lee has solved this problem! You can purchase their wine card and charge it at the counter. This machine gives you three options: full glass, half glass and TASTING – my favorite! To people like me, it’s perfect! I can still taste 4 different wines and stay sober!Oby_FountainSo, bottoms up! Next time you visit Oby Lee, if you see me, come say hi! 🙂

Chesapeake Crab & Beer Festival

I just went to Chesapeake Crab & Beer Festival this weekend. I know that I wrote a review on a crabhouse very recently but I have to do this because it’s not just about eating crabs! It was a family gathering so we got their package deal, which cost us about $85 apiece after  taxes and fees(?). It sounds a bit pricy but this is ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT-CRABS & ALL-YOU-CAN-DRINK-BEER AND WINE for 4 hours so after all it was not a bad deal. With the weather being perfect and family around, I couldn’t have asked for anything better than this for this price. For future reference, they give you an option of just purchasing a beer-only-package for $39 (plus taxes and fees) dollars as well. If you don’t like seafood, it’s okay too. They have individual vendors that sell hot dogs, burgers, fried dough and other things on the venue.

They had two sessions for this event: 11am-3pm / 5pm-9pm. Of course, we went for the second option. All you can drink alcohol means that we are drinking!! They had pretty decent beer options but the lines were really long. Some people were just drinking while standing in line (SMART!!). Once you get in, they give you a plastic mug. That’s your booze vessel for the night. And after you pass that point, there are a few crab stations, where they give you 6 crabs+corn on the cob+coleslaw at a time. You can always go back for more. I think we each ended up getting two trays (at least). Even though there were lots of tables, people were still looking for a spot all evening so be there early. Getting there earlier also means that you will sit at a clean table.

In terms of the quality of food, it was GOOD. The crabs were fresh and not smothered in Old Bay. I wouldn’t say that it was mind-blowing. When it comes to the best deal (quality and price) in town so far, I am gonna say Maine Ave. Fishmarket’s got the best deal. As you can see in the picture above, the crabs were not that big. I would say they were small-medium sized mostly. They were delicious. though.

Also, although they do keep brining in new buschels of crabs constantly, you might end up getting the very last bits of the whole batch, which means that the crabs might not be that hot. So look around the other crab stations to see if they just brought new ones from the steamer and go there. There aren’t any servers who help you with drinks and food there either so be prepared to serve yourself. They have paper towels there but, as you know, YOU WANT TO CLEAN THE HECK OUT YOUR HANDS after crabbing. Wet naps I brought came in handy BIG TIME, FYI. Oh, don’t forget to get those sweet watermelons that they give you on the side for free! After you eat all these crabs, your lips burn! The watermelons tasted sweeter than ever!

 

After the battle was over, we were all happy campers. 🙂 Then, real drinking starts. Of course, people getting drunk means that the place might get a little crazy: beer overflowing on the ground, people getting loud………. and the bathroom (O.M.G.) but it’s all good. By the time this is all happening, no one is sober! 😉

National Harbor, MD is a really small area but it was just perfect this kind of weekend. There was music playing by the pier and there were fireworks around 9:30 as well. We went to Bobby McKey’s for some drinks and entertainment for a bit. What a complete day!

It’s an annual event so don’t miss this fun event if you are in town next year!

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A Great Way to Enjoy your Steak!

Steak is such an easy meal – compared to other home-made dishes that you actually have to “cook” – but sometimes it’s just not enough. A great way to highlight your dinner (or lunch…. or breakfast? sure, what the heck!) is to fix a nice salad with it. In this case, it was spinach+feta cheese with cut-up onions and tomatoes, which we picked up at a local farmer’s market. The key is the dressing.

We all have a couple different kinds of dressing sitting in the refrigerator but when you want some nice “home-made” dressing, this is how. EVOO+any kind of vinegar+any mustard+salt+pepper+garlic. SUPER SIMPLE! You can start from there and play with what you have left in your pantry if you feel creative that night. Otherwise, it’s a lot healthier than the supermarket dressing that you have.

We used the red wine that had been sitting next to the Keuric machine for ages! Well-transformed and well-enjoyed!

Happy 4th of July! Grill up and get yourself a nice salad with fresh veggies and home-made dressing! Cheers!