Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday in Sicily

One of our favorite ways to spend a Sunday in Italy is to sleep-in, have a relaxed breakfast, then go for a long bike ride.

So this morning we slept-in, then Zio Lorenzo cooked up his famous "Sicilian Toast" which is basically like French Toast (which of course is not even French) but with some orange zest mixed in with the milk and eggs and enjoyed with butter, powdered sugar and fresh fruit rather than maple syrup which is hard-to-find and expensive here.

Next, it was time to ride. After breakfast had settled, we headed off inland towards the town of Sortino, taking the above photo of Heather posed in front of Mount Etna along they way. As you can see it was warm enough for short sleeves, though we keep our ancient, creaky knees covered until the temps are well into the 70's these days.

There's a pretty long climb (as you can see by the increased altitude above, actually 424 meters, so just over 1300 feet above sea level - which is where we start) to get up there and this was our first climb of any distance of the year. You know how it goes - you start out feeling rather frisky, then realize there's no way you're going to keep this up all the way so you gear down and slog away, trying to remember how long the climb was...until you hit the top.

This one levels off, then rolls a bit before a slight descent and final pop up to Sortino. From there we make a quick left and enjoy a really fun descent with plenty of switchback curves, but on a wide road with good sight lines so you can "let 'er rip" a bit, something we both relish.

Everywhere from our place on the sea is pretty much uphill so coming back is for the most part all downhill, though there are a few places where you cross a bridge and the road kicks up, just to remind you how tired your legs really are.

This was a 3 hour + ride for us and afterwards it was time for the second part of our favorite way to spend a Sunday in Italy - a late, long lunch. By this time we had excellent appetites so the pollo cacciatore Heather cooked up on Saturday (soups and stews are always better the second day) was heated up while the pasta water was boiling and some fresh aiti (a Sicilian leafy green sort of like spinach) was washed, blanched and cooked with olive oil, garlic and red pepper.

Heather roasted a sweet red pepper over the stove burner for an antipasto. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, it was the perfect way to start.

The pasta was served (primo piatto) with the red sauce from the pollo and enjoyed with an excellent nero d'avola/syrah blend from Canicatti called Scialo.

Next (secondo piatto) was the chicken itself along with the aiti, followed by a Sicilian almond cookie (or two) and ILLY espresso courtesy of our tiny Gaggia home machine.

BUONA certo!!!

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