I want to go to Sicily so badly.
Each day I write recipes using Sicilian ingredients and tell people about products from Sicily at work, in my job at an Italian food importer. I got a little closer to my dream of visiting Sicily last week when I won a Sicilian Food Tour for two as a door prize at a social media event. Well, it was only a tour around little Sicily in Five Dock, a Sydney suburb but hey, I’m happy. If I could win any door prize ( bar a large sum of money) I couldn’t have hoped for anything more suitable. Carmel Ruggeri who runs the tours, and until recently owned La Casa Restaurant in Russel Lea, grew up in Five Dock and is clearly at home. I liked her immediately. She’s down to earth and has a great smile…….. and she hugged me when I looked very excited about winning the tickets to her tour
I could wander around Five Dock by myself, but I wouldn’t get introduced to the characters and hear stories of the people and the area as I did on this tour . The day involves being indulged with samples and then later we all sit down to lunch, with wine and a few cooking tips thrown in. It’s a great day.
We meet at La Casa Restaurant for a coffee and get on a small mini bus for the short ride to the first stop at Creameria De Luca
One of the special treats at De Luca is the Granita di Cafe con panna. Coffee granita topped with sweetened cream into which you dip a fresh brioche roll. Heavenly, rich and filling. If I knew what was in store for the rest of the day I may have shared my granita instead of eating a whole one to myself.
We walk down the road to Caminiti Butchery, its doors have been open for 37 years. Here we sample freshly BBQ’d sausages that are juicy with natural skins in flavours like Sundried Tomato and Provolone or Pork and Fennel, we are encouraged to eat as many as we like with onions and a crunchy panini. (bread rolls) People know this shop for the service and the good old fashioned cutting to order. They make their own small goods and ready to cook products.
We walk on to Bar Rizzo an odd looking coffee shop with large pictures of Bob Marley painted on the wall. This is an interesting distraction because we are soon offered Arancini and drinks. The Arancini are full of ragu and peas, made by Maria the owner who cooks up a kilo of rice each morning to make her large golden globes.
Tamborrino Pasticceria is owned by Vincenzo and Cristina. They make us feel at home offering coffee and a selection of their favourite Sicilian sweets. Cannoli with marscapone and a drop of Grappa, almond biscuits and Italian doughnuts stuffed with custard.
We stop to admire The old Five Dock, the Italians in the back ground and a stone laid by the council dedicated to Five Dock’s sister town in Sicily.
On wards to Ranieri Deli a family business situated in Five Dock for 33 years. They import a lot of their own Italian products like cheeses, meats, olive oils and pastas. Its a friendly shop where tasting the product is normal and on a Saturday it’s at it’s community best. There is advice between customers on recipes and friendly banter while waiting for their freshly cut and sliced goods. We are presented with a tasting of about 10 meats and cheeses and a special dish of strozzapreti pasta with three cheeses.
This part of the tour completed, we waddle back to the mini bus wondering how we will fit in lunch. At La Casa, our lunch spot, we are welcomed with a glass of Aperol Spritz a blend of juices, Aperol liqueur with sparkling water or Prosecco. This tour has the added billing of a demonstration by Carmel’s mother who makes the Polpette or Italian meatballs in the restaurant. Her English is minimal so she has the assistance of the Chef, proving to be an entertaining combination of cooking styles.
It’s amazing how a little break can prepare you for more food. Lunch is served. Fried Calamari, Pasta with Polpette , salad and Italian wine …lots of Italian wine and Averna ( a Sicilian Liqueur) and then warm Sicilian doughnuts with cinnamon sugar and crushed pistachios!
I could hardly move after this and although this did give me a feeling of contentment I was also left with the feeling that this tour is built on Italian hospitality. We are farewelled with a bag containing an apron and some of Mummas Polpetta’s
The last food tour for this year is on December 7th. A special Christmas Tour.
Carmel now runs tours to Sicily, ( the real one) dream on Tania.