Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pre-Germaly, Part Two.

Just beyond the walled coast of Siracua's Ortygia are seemingly endless crooked meandering streets leading to any number of historic, interesting and charming little nooks and crannies.  If you've got the time and no one to cry about the fact that you've walked by the same piazza eight times, keep the map in the bag the first day to really get acquainted with the place.  You quickly find yourself lost...eyes wide, mouth agape, thinking about the city's past and how neatly it melds with its present.

I was lost most of the time I was here...but didn't care because I kept bumping into the coolest things.  Archways above entrances like this one, for instance.  Something tells me this one is old.

A recurring theme all over the country, former Roman temples converted into amazing Christian churches. Bible-themed sculpture filling in the gaps between the original Roman columns. I'm guessing this is Salome, the sexy sexy dancer girl with the head of John the Baptist.  Yikes.  Veggie Tales material.

Your "standard" facade addition to a Roman temple

Siracusa's history is tied to the sea and for that reason I didn't stop eating for more than an hour between arrival and departure.   "I'm sorry, the man I get my fish from didn't have luck with the sardines this morning," said the waiter at ___.  "Dammit, I suppose I'll just have to go with the carpaccio of tuna and swordfish with pistachio."  Win.

I thought the menu said "Fish Balls."  I was pleasantly surprised...I imagined they'd be smaller.  If you're wondering if Restaurant Syraka is worth your time, I'd say yes.  I'd go back for sure.  Although it seemed they thought mood-lighting and flood-lighting were one and the same, the food was good and the service was great...I was still so new to Italian (not that I don't suck at it anymore), and the family that owns the joint was so accommodating.  My waiter (apparently the was opening wines left and right that weren't on the glass pour list and doing his damnedest to speak my language, recommending what I should eat and in what order depending on how hungry I was.  Since this was a solo trip I usually had my journal and camera on the table...maybe this is why people at restaurants are always so nice to me.  Perhaps they think that if I'm not some sort of journalist, then at least I'm super interested and that's gotta be worth something hey?

With no trace of the previous night's ridiculous torrent save the clean crisp air, I was free to enjoy my rooftop breakfast.  Local everything...butter, honey, orange juice, teeney little pears and plums.
Making my way west towards Agrigento, I had to stop in Noto.  Multiple acquaintances and winemakers said to make sure and wrap my face around the sweets at Corrado Costanzo's place and also the granite at Caffe Sicilia.  There was no time for a before photo of the trifecta.  I went Mandorla, Mirtillo, and Limone.  The mandorla was the hands down favorite although all three were ridiculous.  icy and creamy at the same time...not too could even taste the skin of the almond.  I really can't explain how good it was.  I almost just cried thinking about it.
The streets of Noto
En route (sorta) to Agrigento is Cerasuola di Vittoria.  As if I would drive by and not stop at Azienda Agricola COS.  Upon viewing this picture again I realized I've pulled yet another "Evan."  I arrived at COS and there was no power to the joint due to the previous nights storm.  Unabated, the flashlight wielding Antonella made sure I was properly shown around.  When it came time to purhase some wine, I handed over my Visa and she gave me the "hey...Americano...I wish I could miracle some electricity in that credit card machine, but even Italian women have their limits" look.  So what did she do?  She gave me the wine and the bank information for a money transfer, hoping I would be good for it.  I assured her I was and I happily went my way, thoroughly impressed with life.  Well, wouldn't you know it...USBank makes it difficult and damn expensive to transfer internationally.  Wouldn't you also know that I completely forgot about it until now.  Surprise.  But I just sent the lovely and trusting Antonella an email so hopefully we'll get this all sorted out.

Sure, aging in amphorae is a pretty neat idea, but you can imagine the risks.  Bacteria, temperature, leakeage, etc.  When done well, as is also the case with COS, the wines really are something altogether different when compared to your conventional wood or stainless aged lot.

Fermentation hall.  Ooh, banks of brand new concrete.  I want.  There is a bit of wood at COS, but its large format botti
 one floor below.

New old-school is new old new-school.  What?  Wooden BioD Stirring machines.

The Pithos Bianco really was a revelation.  I'm not sure if this one makes it to the states but if it does its in tiny quantities and surely doesn't last too long.   100% Grecanico aged in amphorae.  Due to extenuating circumstances, I was forced to drink this entire bottle in one night.  Come on...its only 12% alc!  And the next day, the only remnant of an entire bottle of wine was the memory of how awesome it was...and a pang of sadness that it was gone forever.

If I was some sort of VIP wine person, I'd have stayed in one of those two tower apartments.  But I'm not, so...
I imagine we invented the idea of a "wine town," or we were at least the ones to commercialize the shit out of "wine country."  Vittoria has nothing to do with any of that.  You'd have no idea it was THE Vittoria of the Cerasulo di Vittoria DOCG...THE Sicilian DOCG...just rolling up the main street.  I found this while wandering around the side streets (looking for lunch...surprise).  No miracles or transfiguration when I climbed the steps...just a view of some shabby roofs and a fairly non-photogenic valley beyond.  Now...where is that art gallery with all the Ed Hardy-looking paintings and dammit if I can't find a Tommy Bahama shirt!

La Scala dei Turchi off the beaten pat a bit on the way to Agrigento.  Amazing.

Atop La Scala dei Turchi.  I promptly climbed down to the far less crowded beach.  you can't see them, but I was amazed at how many weirdos were lathering chalky water all over themselves.   Perhaps its good for you, but I could only imagine how many bottles of lotion they were going to need later.  And they looked stupid.
The blurry town of Agrigento at twilight
Yes please.

Heaps of history near Agrigento in the Valley of the Temples.

Some of it has been miraculously preserved.  The Valley of the Temples

World's first cul-de-sac in the Valley of the Temples

And just think, that's all gonna wind up on someone's plate drowning some chicken product at the Olive Garden (OMG this salad is soooo good).  The town of Marsala was all but closed on this Sunday afternoon so I just kept rolling on towards the town of Trapani.  If Marsala is really cool, don't tell me...I'd rather not know what I missed.

Just outside of Trapani is the hilltop town of Erice where you'll find a Norman castle built right on top of the ancient Temple of Venus.  A freaky-deaky time was had by many at this site.

I dug my toes in the sand all over Sicily but this was by far my favorite beach.  I drove out to San Vito lo Capo and it was a cuh-luuuh-STER.  SO many people.  Not a parking space in sight, but Peroni and CocaCola umbrellas as far as the eye could see.  Yuck.  I saw the above beach (just before you reach the little hamlet of Macari) on the drive out there and I could count the people on two hands.  No hire umbrellas, no carpark...just cars parked in a field.   So I turned the Clio around and returned to this place for the rest of the afternoon.  It was the perfect last day on Sicilia.  Then I went back to Trapani and ate my weight in couscous.   The end.

So there you have it.  It took a few months and traveling a few thousand miles to finally get part two up there, but being the weirdo that I am, I couldn't bring myself to post anything else before I did.  Now I can post other things that I did 3 months ago.

1 comment:

jimmy said...

Love it! Thanks for sharing Evan!