Friday, August 10, 2007

A Cooking Class at Azienda Trinita in Mascalucia, Sicily

In a couple of my early posts, I wrote about taking a cruise on theSeabourn_spirit Seabourn Spirit from Rome to Athens. During that cruise, the Seabourn Spirit docked in Taormina, Sicily. We had two choices for excursions: a trek to the top of Mt. Aetna or a tour of an Italian farmhouse with a cooking demonstration.

Italia_sicilia_taormina_1224718_tn Mt. Aetna was steaming and looked interesting from afar. But I have had several volcano experiences, having toured the ruins of Pompeii and also ridden a bicycle from the rim of Haleakala on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Also, my friends know I'm all about food. I love to cook and I love to eat. So the choice was really quite simple.

We were driven by bus from the port in Taormina to the hills above Catania to the village of Mascalucia and Azienda Trinita, the family homestead of Baron and Baroness Bonajuto. Now I know this was billed as an Italian "farmhouse" but forget the typical US farmhouse. This was an Italian villa.

Baron and Baroness Bonajuto's "farm" dates back to 1609 and is surrounded by blooming citrus trees. They bottle their own wine and olives, among other things. True bliss.

The Baroness led the cooking demonstration, preparing a homemade meal with ingredients fresh from their garden. This included the antipasto: Carpaccio of Zucchini, followed by two entrees: pasta with pistachio and chicken breast with grapes; and a crostata brushed with their homemade lemon marmalade.

We toured the garden and dined under the shade of the fruit trees. The Baron served our lunch accompanied by their wonderful wine.

I have duplicated only one dish at home: the Carpaccio of Zucchini. Loosely translated, this is a salad of thinly sliced zucchini. Here's how it's done: cut one small to medium sized zucchini in half across; from each half, shave long, thin slices with a cheese slicer; squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the zucchini, add olive oil and coarse salt. Toss well and then (and this makes the dish) sprinkle with chopped mint leaves. There are no exact measurements except for the juice of one-half lemon to one zucchini...just do the rest to taste. This is a very delicious, healthy dish and I hope you will all try it.

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