On: June 22, 2012
I was the short, slightly bewildered American holding the welcome sign at the Palermo airport. I knew how lucky I was to have the pleasure of traveling with 16 adventurous fellow DLM customers to Sicily. Our first DLM Food Lovers Adventure was an amazing trip that had us spending three nights in Palermo, three nights in Ragusa, and three nights in Marsala!
We all took it easy on that first day with some down time after everyone’s flights. Gioacchino, our gracious tour guide extraordinaire, highlighted a walking tour of Palmero to help get us situated in the capitol city. We purposefully chose not to have every minute of every day scheduled so it was really a nice mix of personal time and planned time. Since this trip was really all about food and wine, we got busy that first day enjoying arancinis (stuffed risotto balls) and Campari before our five-course dinner! One of my favorite restaurants in Palermo was at a beautifully restored tuna factory ( aka-a stone castle villa) right on the bay. We watched the sun go down on the water and got to know each other over a couple glasses of Prosecco. Before we left Palermo we managed to visit a winery, took a behind-the-scenes look at Sicily’s famous ceramic industry, and had a guided tour of the historic district. We all loved our first taste of caponata—a relish made with eggplant, tomato, and olive oil.
Next up was Ragusa where everyone was excited for the cooking class at our four-star hotel. We went to the local market and bought vegetables, fruit, and meat with our chef instructor. Then we had a fabulous light lunch and relaxed until class started (naps were in order). We donned our aprons and helped prepare a six-course menu for that evening. A couple of the highlights were Ramona, Becky, and Dan making ravioli; Myron and Pam rolling salt cod meatballs; and Wilma stitching up that stuffed hen!
In Modica we were invited to spend some time with Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, an artisanal chocolate producer that’s been in business since 1880. After a short hike up a cobblestone street, our group indulged in a chocolate dinner that included one of my favorite pasta dishes of the entire trip— cavati pasta with a meat and vegetable ragu dusted with marjoram chocolate flakes.
I don’t know how, but somehow we managed to have quite an appetite for each and every meal-I guess all that history, beautiful architecture, shopping, and touring helped us to walk it off everyday. I’ll admit that the cappuccinos helped us every morning with all that wine!
Our final destination was Marsala, the famous resort town known for its distinctive wine. On the way there we enjoyed our best lunch of the trip at a small fishing town of Largo San Paolo that is not on any tourist map. Course after course of octopus, shrimp, squid, and swordfish just kept coming! We washed it all down with Grillo, a Silican white wine variety that everyone came to love (even the die-hard red wine fans.
We visited Olio Verde, a family-run olive oil producer. Who, BTW, produce olive oil from their own trees, live in a château on the grounds of their olive oil grove, and run a bed and breakfast. Wow, it was really a memorable evening! We drove along the coast and saw the salt flats where most of Sicily’s sea salt comes from. The final full day we toured, tasted, and enjoyed lunch at our private tour of Florio, a famous Marsala wine producer . We capped off the trip with a farewell dinner stuffed with some of the best food and wine of our lives, and our hearts full of new friends and memories!
We will be heading back to Italy soon for another trip-We’ll keep you posted. Ciao for now!