Sicily is a bit of a food bowl for Italy – and its signature crop is tomatoes. We visit a couple of tomato farms and briefly duck into an eggplant farm, to find richly coloured vegetables that are much brighter and vividly purple than our Australian counterparts. The tomato family and Carmel’s family band together to feed us a barbecue, Sicilian style. Pork sausages are grilled on a homemade barbecue made from half a 44 gallon drum, and all of us (farmers’ wives) take pictures of the design to take home to our husbands. It would be perfect for barbecues in the paddock…. rustic but incredibly practical. It’s probably the simplest meal we eat on the trip, but so good! Bread, sausage and fresh tomato with olive oil drizzled over. We also visit the renowned Occhipinti Winery and we are treated to a tour of winemaker, Arianna Occhipinti’s house, which is a stunning farm building conversion, with subtle terrazzo floors, and white-washed and limestone walls. Arianna was ‘very busy with winery work in Catania’ and wasn’t there to greet us, but her employee, who was a jack of all trades, showed us around. His English was quite good, so the run down of the grape varieties, particularly the ‘frappato’ variety, which is only grown in the Vittoria region of Sicily. It’s a really beautiful boutique winery producing around 100,000 bottles a year. Ariana’s SP68 is a highly coveted bottle that sells at the winery for around A$22. A quick search on the internet found the same bottle selling for A$44 in a Sydney wine merchant in Vaucluse. And around $90 in a restaurant. Pity our suitcases are bulging.
Thanks to Gina Milicia for some of the Occhipinti wine photos.