Curious Appetite

Sicily

Volcanic Wine, Fishing at Catania’s Pescheria Market and Breasty Sweets

In my last entry detailing pistachio overload, I promised a “flurry” of posts which I was hoping to hold me accountable to update my blog, alas life gets in the way yet again.

It’s been a crazy month or so, and I am now writing you loopy and jetlagged from Memphis, with a bit of country oozing from my little vintage jukebox radio as a kick-off to a 2 month stint back in the states. My first stop is here in Elvis’s hometown to attend the Saveur Blog Award ceremony (as my blog was nominated- grazie ancora to all y’all!) plus events their team has planned (I’ll be gramming and all that so be sure to follow/watch!). I mentioned before I lived in Memphis during my adolescent and teen years, and haven’t been back since. I never would have thought my return would be under such conditions. I am smiling. Continue Reading

Feasting in Sicily: Bronte’s Annual Pistachio Festival 2018

pistachios at a roadside produce stand, Bronte, Sicily

In May, I made a pilgrimage to my nonniland in Sicily to chase down pistachios in Bronte, wines on Etna, cheesemaking with the Sicilian tattooed Freddie Mercury, chocolate in Modica, wines in Sicily’s lone DOCG Vittoria by Arianna Occhipinti and more.

I wrote about the Etna leg on this blog post (i.e. pistachios, Etna wines and renegade cheesemaking) but I never quite got around to recounting Modica and Vittoria. I promise, in due time I will recount Italy’s most fascinating chocolate capital and the badass woman winemaker/trailblazer Arianna Occhipinti in Sicily’s lone DOCG Vittoria.

For now, I’ll recount what it was like to visit Bronte’s Annual Pistachio festival aka Expo del Pistacchio. My next post will detail why Catania’s La Pescheria might be one of the best markets in the world- so brace yourself for a flurry of blog posts! Continue Reading

{Quick Recipe} Pistachio & Basil Pesto

getting touchy with food.

Is this your first time reading Curious Appetite? If the answer is no, and you already follow on facebook and instagram, then you’ll know how obsessed I am with pistachios!

It all started when a fiery Sicilian-American woman met an Iranian guy with a ‘fro in a club back in the early 80’s. A few years later they made me and ever since, I was exposed to many exotic flavors as a result of being born to a Sicilian/American mother and an Iranian pop. Continue Reading

#ItalianFWT: Sicilian Cannoli and Wine Pairing

Holy cannoli!

The only Italian my mother spoke to me growing up was cannoli. There was the occasional melanzane thrown in but mom was queen of cannoli lexicon. Tragically, because they were a bit of a mission to make, appearances were reserved for special occasions and eventually disappeared into the years of my adulthood. I only saw them rise from the ashes again when my sister got married last year. Continue Reading

White wine pairing tips for cheesy, saucey foods.

I live in Florence and summer has indeed arrived. Except for today. Which is why I am not a sweaty mess and why I can even stand to be near my computer. It’s so funny to see my friends in Seattle through the social media webs wearing light spring jackets and here I am pushing the envelope basically trying to see how much I can get away with not wearing and pondering how sheer I can really get away with because I feel like I am going to die if I wear anything other than a gel pack of ice. I am exaggerating, after all I could be in Cairo where it’s like 110  degrees. Anyways, I digress as usual.

I am very weary of red wine in the warmer months in Florence, not only because to me red wine says cozy sweater and fireplace recounting the days I spent backpacking through Europe saving baby kittens from olive trees, but because most shop keepers are infuriatingly aloof about how they store their wine on the shelves. A wine shelf near the door is a horrible idea. And unless it is a super market, or a very smartly designed shop (that is not ever in direct sunlight) or has the luxury to invest in air-conditioning I don’t trust poorly stored red wine to be anything but vinegar or acidic grape juice at best.

Apart from that, I honestly can’t fathom consuming something that isn’t cold. I recently had a dilemma where I wanted to make an eggplant parmigiana but didn’t want a red wine. In normal weather circumstances, I would usually go for like a Negroamaro from Puglia or a Barbera from Piedmont for a baked cheese, vegetable and tomato dish like an eggplant parmigiana (or even for like a cheesy lasagna too) but I wanted to figure out how I could pair with some white wines. So I went to the wine shop at Eataly on a Sunday to stare at all the bottles hoping my food and wine pairing classes would flood my memory. Here is what I managed to pick out after many minutes scratching my head and having a lot of “oh yeah!” moments:


I wanted to stick to a white wine from Southern Italy because I am obsessed with gastronomic identity, meaning to pair local wines with the local cuisine. In theory, an elegant white wine from the Langhe (in the Northern, Slow Food capital region Piedmont) such as Marin by Fontanafredda could have sufficed just as easily as a rich, aromatic yet balanced Sauvignon by Bastianich from Friuli. But I wanted to go down south where the dish originates. You should still try these with something cheesy or creamy like risotto, the traditional Piemontese vitello tonnato (which is boiled veal in tuna mayonnaise) or anything with seafood, of course.

In the end, this is what I found and which I suggest for a baked cheese and tomato dish like Eggplant Parmigiana:

COS Rami Sicilian White (as early as 2012) This is a very unconventional winery which specializes in local, indigenous grape varieties and abides by biodynamic production methods. The particular grapes showcased in COS’s Rami are Inzolia and Grecanico.

A Greco di Tufo from the famous Feudi di San Gregorio in Campania.

But what I ended up choosing was a Sicilian Viognier by Calatrasi & Miccichè. This would be good also with a chicken dish in a cream sauce or a creamy mushroom risotto- perhaps not exactly Sicilian foods but just to give you an idea what Viognier could also match well with.

I picked this because Viognier tends to be a richer white wine, what I like to call a greasy wine which give a nice full mouth watering start and long finish but not too fruity or aromatic, with just a tinge of petrol on the nose which for me is also why I call it greasy. This was a great wine pair for a saucy, creamy ricotta filled Eggplant Parmigiana which I proudly made, by grilling (not frying) the eggplant, and whipping up the tomato sauce from scratch with heirloom umami rich tomatoes, garlic, herby olive oil from the most recent fall’s pressing and fresh basil.

I’m hungry just looking at this ricotta eggplant burger looking thing.

In my posts regarding food and wine pairing, I don’t go into the tasting notes too much because I just want readers to know what’s good in my opinion and to find out for themselves. Wine is all about opinion. And these are my suggestions that you can take or leave. This is my blog and this is what I think.

In my humble opinion,

Curious Appetite

1 2