New web site and Twitter for an inside look at Sicily

14 06 2013

Please check out my personal web site for information on my books: joedamatoauthor.com.

Taste of Sicily is now on Twitter! Follow us at @scpellojoe

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Flash Drive

6 05 2013

Flashdrive Skyline_NYCINCY-01Sorry for the delay in posting, but I’ve been working on the publication of my new book, Flash Drive.

If  you like detective stories, please go to amazon. com for the paperback or your Kindle Fire.

In a Cincinnati hotel, a female assassin drains the data from her victim’s laptop. The information stored on it can get her killed. She was contracted to send the hard drive’s information to a New York mobster, but reneges on that part of the deal.  She’s in a hailstorm; she can’t run, she can’t hide, nor can she escape the consequences of her latest kill.

 

When police detectives Jake Laird and Sam Ferris race to the hotel, they find a mobster’s accountant shot to death. Their investigation takes them to New York, where it becomes clear that they’re not the only ones chasing the killer. The Cincinnati detectives face a head-on collision with two powerful entities that also want to get their hands on the hitter: the New York mobster who issued the contract, and a corrupt politician in Washington.

 

But the assassin’s past experiences have taught her how to get herself out of difficult situations, and the detectives find themselves playing cat and mouse with a savvy killer.

 

 

 





SEEDS OF THE LEMON GROVE

22 12 2012

Can you avenge your father’s death by killing him?

Seeds of the Lemon Grove is the 80,000 word opening volume of a trilogy that demonstrates the corruption of the mafia through the roots of Sicilian history. It is a chronicle of the mafia’s brutal impact on its homeland. It is a record of a young man’s struggle to confront a family secret, as seen through a window into a world of what so many hear about, but so few truly understand.

Go to amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com for your hard copy or Kindle and Nook.

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Foods in Sicily

3 12 2012

Food in Sicily

The variety and complexity of the culinary art in Sicily is the result of thousands of years of history, the amassing over the centuries of different layers of civilization and culture. Sicilian cuisine is rich an elaborate, contributions to it from distant places. In fact, almost every dish have some ingredient from outside the island. There is the influences of Greek, Latin, Arab-Norman, Franco-Hispano.

The ancient Greek cuisine remained true to itself during the time of the Roman occupation, when the island was the ‘granary’ of the Empire.

Typical of Sicilian cuisine: as hors d’oeuvres, stuffed tomatoes, vegetable caponata, stuffed or crushed olives; as first course, pasta with sardines, pasta ‘ncasciata, pasta A la Norma, crispeddi, sfincioni. As main and side dishes we should mention swordfish A la ghiotta, aubergines prepared in various ways, sardines a beccafico, broccoli affogati, falsomagro and a great varety of cheeses, from pecorino to tuma to primosale. From the vast array of sweets and cakes we will mention cannoli, frutti di Martorana, agnello pasquale, pignolata and a great variety of granite.

Sicilian wines are of high quality, pure and strong with a punch in them and often a touch of Marsala quality. As well as the various types of Marsala, Bianco di Alcamo, Regaleali, Corvo di Salaparuta, various kinds of Moscato and Passito (Pantelleria), the excellent wines of the Etna district (white, rose and red), Malvasia delle Lipari, Ambrato di Comiso and Faro di Messina.





Sicilian Seafood

27 10 2012

The best way to understand the importance of seafood on the Sicilian table is to visit the fish markets in villages along the sea. I watched these villages come to life in the early mornings. Workers unloaded their catches onto tables full of ice. There were heaps of octopuses, buckets full of snails and tiny clams, and any other form of sea life imaginable. The fish came from Mazara del Vallo, Italy’s largest fishing port, in southwest Sicily, as well as smaller ports famed for specific things: anchovies from Sciacca, swordfish from Favignana., and Tuna from Trapini. Teenage boys carried espressos in tiny plastic cups from nearby bars to the fishmongers, who—arms flailing and voices raised—were negotiating with housewives and wholesalers and chefs.

Just think of it, the fish you eat for lunch were caught that morning.

This blog is filled with recipes from towns and villages throughout the island. Read, cook, and enjoy!





Sicilian Cheeses

23 10 2012

Ricotta Salata is an aged, salted Ricotta (cottage cheese whose Italian name literally means “re-cooked”) made from sheep’s milk, produced in the Sicilian heartland. Usually only the rind is actually salted heavily, leaving the core mild and quite sweet for an “aged” cheese.

Pecorino, as its name implies, is made from sheep’s milk (“pecora” meaning sheep). It is true that Sicily’s sheep population is ever diminishing, but in Italian regions, only Sardinia presently raises more sheep than Sicily. Like Tuma, Pecorino is sometimes flavored with peppercorns or other spices. Made throughout Sicily, where it may be considered the most widely produced aged cheese product, it is a favorite for grating over pasta. Its taste, though sharp, is often less pungent and dry than that of Caciocavallo, despite a distinctive flavor and texture.

Like Pecorino, Tuma is sometimes flavored with peppercorns or other spices. Unlike Pecorino, it does not age well and is best served with ham, wines and fruits as a table cheese. It has a sweet taste not unlike that of Provola, with an equally rubbery texture.

Caciocavallo is made from cow’s milk, though its cryptic name literally means “horse cheese” –the Sicilian word “cacio” sharing the same root as casein while “cavallo” means horse. It takes at least eight months to age Caciocavallo properly, achieving a sharper flavor in about two years. Caciocavallo is a good complement to stronger wines, and widely used for grating over pasta. Indeed, it is a favorite of Sicilian chefs for use with pasta. It’s usually shaped as a large wheel. “Caciovacchino” was a similar product made in times past.





AVOLA

28 09 2011

Avola, in the province of Siracusa, managed to revive after the terrible earthquake that in 1693 destroyed all the south-eastern side of Sicily. It was rebuilt on a modern grid of perpendicular street within an exagonal perimeter. A large and square piazza with nearby minor ones marks the heart of town, according to the typical Renaissance design.

The new Avola developed around the Monte Aquilone district, the site of the ancient city, and stretches to the plain and the coast, these miraculously left undamaged by the nature disaster.

Visitors can enjoy several fine churches begin with the Chiesa Madre. Its frontage is graced with panels representing the Seven Sacrements. The façade, is so-called a torre (towered) because it is divided into three tiers. The courtyard is embellished with some statues representing Saints. The interior is divided into three naves with chapels, and is ornamented with fine pieces of art such as the painting depicting the Sposalizio della Madonna attributed to Olivo Sozzi.

Avola’s most attractive buildings include the Palazzo Ducale, near the Mother Church, flanked by a 1800’s clock-tower, and the 1800’s Palazzo di Città.

The site of Avola Antica, the ancient city, in the Monte Aquilone district, is of historical interest, with the ruins of the medieval city and features that testify to the existence of prehistoric settlements at the site.

The Cava Grande del Cassibile, consisting of a natural huge gorge stretching across the coast. The valley at the bottom of the Cava, being amongst the largest in the Iblean area, is enclosed by steep walls. It preserves numerous cave-tombs forming part of the Cassibile necropolis ranging in date from the 11th to the 9th century BC and two cave-settlements. One of these, on the northern side, can be reached following a trail traced by the shepherds, starting at the Cassibile river

Pasta con zucchini

1 pound of spaghetti
1 1/2 cups of olive oil
1 large zucchini
1 tablespoon of capers (chopped into small pieces)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
two mint leaves (shredded)
1 head of garlic (chopped)

Place spaghetti in boiling water and add a pinch of salt.
Cut zucchini in 1/4 inch slices.
Place olive oil in a saute pan. Add garlic, and red pepper flakes.
Add the pieces of zucchini to the olive oil. Turn the zucchini when it turns a light brown saute the other side and add capers.
Drain spaghetti and add to the sautéed zucchini. Mix and cover with the shredded mint.

The dish came without cheese, but I asked for Parmigiano Reggiano and of course got it.

A full-bodied Nero d’Avola red would go well here.