Several Italian news and travel web sites (www.siciliaonline.it and www.myluxury.com to name a couple) are reporting that Sicily has defeated Sardinia as the favorite summer destination of local and, mostly, international stars. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Elton John, Giorgio Armani, Sting and many more prefer the still uncompromising beauty of this island to the pretentiousness of a natural paradise that has been turned into a sort of circus by the wannabes. A round trip ticked to Palermo, this time of the year, starts at $523 on Meridiana (available only until mid September) but if you are like me, meaning you don’t have much time off so going all the way to Italy is practically impossible, you’d be happy to know that Sicily can be “tasted” in the East Village. At Cacio & Vino to be exact.
The menu is a never ending (but in a good way) and features some of the most traditional and flavorful Sicilian dishes (including Sarde a beccafico con cipollata,
baked Mediterranean sardines stuffed with bread crumbs, pine nuts, raisins, orange zest, sweet and sour onions; Involtini di melanzane, stuffed rolls of eggplant with pine nuts, raisins, basil, pecorino cheese, tomato sauce; Spaghetti con pesto trapanese, homemade spaghetti, fresh tomato, basil, garlic and almond pesto; Gnocchi di fico e primosale, potato and fig gnocchi in a Sicilian cheese fondue sauce and Pesce spada all’agrodolce,
pan-seared swordfish in sweet and sour sauce with olives and onions and vegetable ratatouille.
Every time I go I am undecided on what to order as everything looks, and tastes so good, but one thing I know for sure is that I will order Caponata (as a cold appetizer). At Cacio e Vino caponata consists of Sicilian style sweet and sour eggplant, celery, olives, onions, served with chick pea fritters and goat cheese. Bursting with color and flavor, it is blend of eggplants and tomatoes, balanced with green olives, capers, celery, sugar and vinegar for its characteristic sweet and sour taste. Caponata can be served cold or at room temperature and it should be prepared a day in advance so the flavors will have time to blend and settle. It can be served with pasta, rice, or omelets but the more traditional way is to serve it as an appetizer with crackers or accompanied by fresh crusty Italian bread or, in the case of Cacio e Vino, with freshly baked pizza dough cut into small slices.
Enjoying it with a glass of wine while waiting for the next dish to arrive is absolute bliss.
- Natasha Lardera