THE MEAL PLANNER - PALERMO
With Dominique Rizzo, chef and food tour host
My favourite is Cornetti con la crema, a delicious flaky pastry like a croissant but filled with Sicily's iconic and deliciously smooth vanilla custard. Typically eaten for breakfast between 6am to 11am, standing at the bar with a strong espresso. Palermo's best is at Caffetteria del Corso in Via Vittorio Emanuele (number 370).
When in Sicily in the summer a perfect morning or afternoon snack is brioche con granita or gelato – a refreshing and substantial snack which highlights Sicily's seasonal fruits and traditional combinations. Granita is comprised of thin ice flakes churned with fresh fruit, nuts or coffee that is then sweetened with sugar. Lemon, almond and coffee are among the most popular flavours. Essentially the brioche is a deliciously soft, sweet bun, not as buttery as its French sister and commonly served cut in half and filled with gelato or sorbet or eaten torn in pieces dipped into granita. Enjoyed since 1860 at Antico Caffe Spinnato (Via Principe di Belmonte, 107).
Sicilian Street food represents the history of flavours that have touched this Island over the centuries. For lunch I love to stop off at one of the local restaurants and enjoy the best of Palermo represented by some of it iconic street foods such as panelle, which is chick pea fritters and caponata – a sweet and sour style of vegetables eaten as part of an antipasto. Others include potato and mint croquettes, stuffed rolled eggplant, crispy calamari and the traditional arancini to name a few. One of my favourite new places is Passami u Coppu in Via Roma.
A Sicilian cannoli is traditionally enjoyed in the afternoon or post an evening meal with coffee. This historic dessert of Sicily is a crispy pastry tube made similar to pasta, from ingredients such as flour, spices, eggs and either marsala wine or vinegar which, when fried, gives the cannoli its bubbles, creating its crunchy crisp shell. Traditionally Sicilian cannoli are filled with sweetened, whipped, creamy sheep's milk ricotta, although in other parts of Italy you can find them filled with vanilla or chocolate custard. Cannolissimo is a newer venture in Palermo specialising in cannoli of all flavours and fillings in the heart of Palermo on Via Vittorio Emanuele (number 407). It's a little touristy but does give you an amazing selection of this world renowned dessert.
For a simple glass of wine and light antipasti, an aperitivo or late night digestive, I love going to Enoteca Picone in Via Guglielmo Marconi. Picone bar and wine shop showcases over ,000 labels including Italian and Sicilian wines of excellence. Picone is a popular meeting point for locals offering a compact menu, both bar and table service and an incredible wine tasting room set amongst a vast array of bottles. Biodynamic and organic wines are also available well as finest liqueurs, brandy, cognac, whisky, grappa and a special selection of beers.
Childhood travels back to her father's homeland of Sicily inspired Brisbane restaurateur and food advocate Dominique Rizzo's love of travel and food. She owns Putia Pure Food Kitchen and Clapham Junction Wine Bar & Provisions in Banyo, Brisbane. Through her company, Pure Food, Wine & Cooking Tours, the celebrity chef hosts food tours to Sicily. There are several departing in May. See dominiquerizzo.com