Mangia on Mt. Etna: mangiare e bere (let’s eat and drink)

When it rains we find solace in food and beverages. Lucky for us, the family of our friends welcome visitors with open arms and delicious food. We traveled to the small fishing village of Roccalumera, halfway between Taormina and Messina. The Italian mainland region of Calabria was visible across the straits of Messina, like New Jersey across the Hudson River from New York. Our greeting was filled with love and amazing aromas from the kitchen. Risotto with porcini mushrooms (that were foraged earlier in the day), Stocco stew, a delicious traditional cod dish, pulpo, caponata, stuffed anchovies and so much more. Coupled with homemade wine and finished with gelato, pistachio-filled cannoli, a plate of fresh melon and a dish of persimmons. The language of food, and lots of pantomime along with the family’s pretty good English (compared to our pretty rough Italian) made this special evening extraordinary.

We have begun the pre-wedding celebration of our friends with them all over town. We tried three Sicilian cocktails; all delicious. Amara Amaro (a blood orange liqueur) makes the Sicilian version of an Aperol Spritz. A Lumia, which is limoncello, gin and Prosecco and Ficu R innia which is a fig liqueur with white wine, cinnamon liqueur and some Amara, too. They all pack a punch and none are as sweet as they sound. Thankfully and deliciously, they serve each drink with peanuts, olives, fresh fruit, cheese and honey.

With more friends arriving, a proper meal at a restaurant in Taormina was arranged at Osteria Nero D’Avola. Each dish was beautiful, tasty and had clever names. The octopus dish was called Pulpo Fiction. It was prepared in the three-legged shape which is the symbol of Sicily with a little berry splatter. We toasted with a blush sparkling wine and had an Etna Rosso and a nice crisp white, too.Here comes the sun, a new view of Etna and then…more food and friends.

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