The visit to this market place was one of our highlights of Sicily. We loved it so much, we made two stops here. The first time around we got some potatoes, tomatoes and a gorgeous chunk of swordfish.
Briefly, going back a few days to when we visited the Planeta winery, we bought some olive oil made from the well-known Sicilian olive, nocellara. Reading into this oil, it was recommended to serve alongside a piece of herb crumbed and fried fish. So we set about making a nice herb crumb from the herbs we had in the van for the swordfish steak we had. To accompany this we also made a very simple salad from potatoes, tomatoes, raw onions, capers, olive oil, lemon juice and a good amount of the chopped herbs we used to crust the fish. Some of the freshest fish we’d ever eaten. It was sublime.
The fish was meaty and rich, but also fresh from the herb-coating. A bottle of 100% Grecanico (in Sicilian, otherwise known by it’s more common name, Garganega) from the COS winery, named Pithos Bianco was our choice of wine. The winery (located in the Vittoria wine region) is famous for using terracotta amphorae – an ancient Greek style pot – to ferment and age their wines. We thought this one had plenty going on with it to complement the food; super nutty with mineral aromas developing from these clay pots making an unbelievably complex, golden coloured nectar.
After our night on Mount Etna, we returned to the Catanian market for a thorough, proper shop before continuing on the road. We left the market with all sorts of goodies; spices, tomato paste, fruit, vegetables, shrimp, more swordfish and the specialty of the area – the roasted Ragusa onion.
For breakfast that morning we carved the onion and slathered it on the local Sicilian bread ‘mafalda’ with sliced tomato, nocellara olive oil, salt and pepper. To die for!
That night we made a couple of different swordfish carpaccio’s and a side of broccoli with a caper, truffle and marjoram dressing. A freshly sharpened knife, we cut slivers off the swordfish and laid them on the plate. One we topped with datterini tomato, olive oil, orange zest and fennel herb, the other with caper, marjoram and olive oil.
Sicily has some well-known treats, specific to the island down south, and the Catanaian market is not short on little stalls selling these. There are many but we’ll simply look at the infamous cannoli.
Cannoli, meaning ‘little tube’ are crunchy, fried pastry tubes filled with sweetened and flavoured ricotta. There are many varieties. The one we tried was a pistachio one. Enough said, now go and get one!