Monday, August 25, 2014

Events: The 'Mandrarossa Vineyard Tour' is back! You don't wanna miss it

Photo source: ilmovimento.altervista.org

Ernest Hemingway once said: "Wine is the most civilized thing in the world." 
I certainly won't disagree with him.

Photo source: bekirent.blogspot.co.uk/
Talking about 'the gods nectar', in the Sicilian province of Agrigento, there is a small town called Menfi, where the territories of the "Cantine Settesoli" are situated. 

Settesoli is one of the most outstanding Sicilian Wine Companies located in a unique and breathtaking scenario, just between the ancient Greek village of Selinunte and the spectacular Valle dei Templi

Thanks to the amazing weather, the sun, the wind, the fertile land and the proximity with the sea, the area has been cultivated for decades and decades to produce high-quality wine.  

The most important brand of the company is the MANDRAROSSA, whose name comes from the same surrounding area 'contrada Mandrarossa'.

For those who, next week, will be so lucky to visit this part of Sicily, from Friday 29th of August to Sunday 31st, there is an amazing opportunity: the company infact has organised "The Mandrarossa Vineyard Tour 2014", where visitors will be able to discover the incontaminated and charming land where the grapes are cultivated and turn into wine. They will also partecipate to one of the biggest grape harvest in Europe and above all will smell and taste the Mandrarossa products as well as the local cuisine prepared by the wonderful ladies of Menfi (women between 40 and 75 years old that still cook following the old local tradition).

So... this event is not only for wine amateurs or experts, but it's actually for anyone who is curious or wants to experience a new aspect, discover a part of the rural Sicily, see how the farmers make this excellent products combining tradition with new technologies. It's definetely something you don't wanna miss, because wine is not only a pleasure, wine is nature, wine is culture, wine is tradition and is pure poetry!!!

And if you don't want to believe in me, well... at least believe in Ernest Hemingway.



You can find the whole programme with all the details at: www.vineyardtour.it

Friday, August 8, 2014

Food & Wine of Sicily: a cooking class with Chef Francesco Mazzei

Chef Francesco Mazzei showing foodies how to make fresh Sicilian pasta
Last saturday Aug. 2nd. I had the pleasure and the priviledge to join an amazing cooking class at "L'Anima", an Italian restaurant in the heart of London opened 6 years ago.
L'Anima - Italian Restaurant, London

Warm welcome, relaxed atmosphere, excellent food, superb cooking sessions and of course a lot of fun and laugh as well! 

"Food & Wine of Sicily" was the title of this class, organised by Italian Chef Francesco Mazzei at his own place in 1, Snowden Street.  

Chef Mazzei and his fantastic team helped the 15 partecipants preparing a selection of Sicilian traditional recipes.



From the renowned arancine/arancini made of rice, to the classic pasta con le sarde, from the scented sea-food soup to the delicate rabbit in sweet and sour sauce, and finishing with, of course, the typical cannoli with ricotta cream, made in Catania version. 

Three hours of learning, hands on:
- how to make fresh pasta from scratch (the Sicilian busiate, in Calabria called filei);
- why you need pastella (Engl. batter) to fry the arancini;
- how you cut a rabbit in pieces
- AND-
- how to balance different flavours when you prepare a soup with mussels and clams.

I also had the honour to get to "judje", yes "judje!" together with the Chef and two members of the kitchen staff, the person who had made the perfect shape for the arancini (still in working progress in the pic on the left) and who prepared the best fish soup (pic above.) 

Last but not least, let's not forget the tasting of three superb Sicilian wines (a white, a red and a dessert one) with the accurate and detailed explanation given from sommelier Franco Fortunati. 


In Sicily the variety of climate and land that the territory offers, allows us to "play" with several types of high-quality wines according to what kind of food we are eating. So, we can find a light bodied red like the Cerasuolo di Vittoria that perfectly matches with a tuna steak or a sea-food soup and a more structured and aged white that can accompany a plate of cheese. 


The combination is always an incredible experience for our palate, so for that I would like to thank once again Chef Francesco and all his team for having allowed me to be a part of his kitchen for one day.

If you are into Italian food in general and live in the city, you definitely don’t want to miss the opportunity to join one of Chef Mazzei future cooking sessions at 'L’Anima Restaurant', where you will eat and breathe real Italian.  

You will be among lovely people, learn a lot about our food and culture but, above all, you will enjoy yourself!