On our last day in Siracusa, we woke up early again to drive back to Palermo with the intention to stop somewhere like Monreale for lunch. But 30 km before reaching Palermo, I saw endless blue seas. The sun was out, the winds not too blustery, the scenery so beautiful I decided we really didn't need to see another church nor walk along another cobbled street. So we stopped at a tiny residential area called Trabia to see what lunch prospects we would find.
Only one restaurant was opened for business. La Lampara (this would sound really naughty in Hokkien) along the coastal drive Contrada Molara Santa Rosalia was being decorated by their staff for the Christmas season, we were a bit early for lunch so hung around the backyard while they hung tinsels and repainted their doors.
The menu covered seafood and pizza but like many places pizza is only available in the evenings. Husband ordered his favourite squid ink noodles, it was good he said. I went for pasta con sarde, sadly that turned out to taste closer to canned sardines than what we had earlier at Sant'Andrea- the pinenuts were swollen, the fish mushy and the raisins tasteless.
Second courses fared much better. Husband ordered (surprise! ) fried calamari. A big plate arrived. It was the best calamari we've ever eaten, the squid tasted very sweet, it was obviously very fresh, and the texture just perfect, neither soft nor rubbery.
I went out on a limb to order meat. Yeah, in a seafood joint. Cotoletta alla Milanese is like wiener schnitzels, and I wanted to see how the Italians do this classic of veal breaded and deepfried. It was a good gamble. The meat, juicy and flavourful, was enhanced with bits of herbs under the crisp breadcrumbed coating. It was tasty till the last bite.
Back in Palermo, it was nearly 3.30 p.m. The sky would be dark soon, so we set out to walk and shop a little, stopping beforehand at a juice bar for some vitamin C shots. Aargh, the oranges were sour.
It was just the beginning of December but some of the shops were already offering discounts up to 30%. I got V a pink puffer coat which came with a little doudou (stuffed doll) which she promptly named Seven. She gives her dolls conventional names like Angel but also some oddball ones like Bung.
Since we skipped dessert at lunchtime I wanted our last meal in Sicily to feature their pastries. So it was back to Spinnato. We hung out at the bar. They dispense endless plastic cups of mineral water from taps (we can choose still or bubbly versions) and would bring whatever you wanted to the counter, when you're done they will tote up the bill. So here we are again with some baby cannolis, so good.
These pistachio cakes were being devoured by some Italian ladies in front of us. It looked daunting to me because I am not a marzipan person but what the heck? Bring it on.
The green marzipan-like outer layer is not too sweet, so we could taste the pistachios used to flavour it. Inside it was more of the same ricotta with dried fruits. A very rich cake yet surprisingly light tasting. V loved this.
Here we have the nice bartender obligingly posing with a cassata. The cassata was superb. Here again, typical Sicilian pastry ingredients like ricotta, fresh cream and dried fruits are employed, but the result is yet another delicious cake, silky rich with joyful bursts of candied fruits.
After our pastry dinner, husband needed a coffee but not me, I wanted my last evening here to end on a high and sweet Sicilian note. Plus, do you know how much we paid to eat all that gorgeous pastries and drink about 2 litres of bubbly water? 7 euros and a bit.
On the very last day, we woke up at 5 a.m. to dress, check out and drive to the airport. When the plane was about to land at Linate airport, Milan, the pilot announced that the local temperature was 6C. Oh no, we were dressed for Sicily's 13C. True enough, along Via Montenapoleanata everybody and their mother were wearing thick furcoats, it was like a scene from Siberia. In Paris, the furs only come out when the temperature hovers around 0C, Italians are obviously more fearful of the cold.
It was just a quick layover of 6 hous, enough time to see the Duomo, shop a little and eat a nice lunch. The pastry shops along va Montenapoleanata were displaying their magnificient creations including extravagant pannetones and pandoros but none were serving anything hotter than warmed up soups and salads so we had to look around the back streets for proper restaurants. Finally we settled for a busy modern canteen-like place called Paper Moon (via Bagutta 1 20121 Milano) because it listed Cotoletta alla Milanese on its menu.
In Milan, they do a more refined version. Just a veal cutlet and breading, nothing to detract from the tender meat and light crumb. Served with just some bitter salad leaves, none of that cold potato salads that Germans favour. It was very good, probably not the best in the city, but I liked it very much. Their pasta PaperMoon was also delicious, flat papardelle sheets sliding in a creamy ham-speckled tomato sauce. Here also when we ordered antipasto we could help ourselves from a buffet but unlike Sicily, prices of all the dishes were almost 40% higher. Other dishes, including a daily special of lamb with potatoes and stewed pear with caramel sauce, were quite mediocre.
That brings us to the end of our delicious Sicilian holiday. We will always remember it fondly. Sicily is hard to get to from most places but once there, settled with a cup of espresso and a slice of cassata, all worries will fade. And when you leave, you'll wish to go back all over again.