Thursday, October 3, 2013

Taormina, Sicily, 2013: Vicolo Stretto; La Capinera; Da Giavanni; The Restaurant at Grand Hotel Timeo; Prince Cerami, Mama Rosa.

Mama Rosa

This resto is owned and operated by the same family that operate La Naumachie (which is next door).

Pasta con acciughe e la mollica (Messina): mature tomatoes, bread crumbs, anchovies, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Good, ok.

Fried calamari. Ok, but, not up to my expectations.

Vicolo Stretto

The charming, very narrow street entrance to the stairs to Vicolo Stretto. One barely can walk through!

Someone making their way down. At the bottom, the stairwell narrows and it was necessary for this gent to turn sideways to exit.

Amouse bouche of veg soup consisting of a puree of celery, zucchini, garlic, parsley, day old crusty bread, mustard greens, olive oil and veg broth.

I requested a sample of the resto's bolognese sauce to consider for a pasta course. It was very good.

Lentil soup with garlic croutons and sauteed chard.

Fabulously fresh Mazzara prawns with artichokes and buffalo milk mozzarella with balsamic and olive oil, all cooked to perfection in the oven. The tails and shell were crispy enough to eat in their entirety. After sucking the juices from the succulent heads, I ate the heads, antenna and all, as well. Delicious! 

Home made, traditional Sicilian meat sauce, toasted bread crumbs, anchovies, wild fennel and tuma cheese. Loved this dish.

Spaghetti and clams.

Carnaroli risotto, scented with basil, with regional seafood: Mazzara shrimp, mussels, clams, baby shrimp, squid and squid ink. 

Sicilian cannoli with sweet ricotta cheese and candied fruit.

Frolla morbida con peche del Serratorio with da bicchiere di latte di mandorla alla zaffarano. Soft short bread with local peaches accompanied by a glass of almond milk with saffron. Wonderful combinations of flavours and a perfect finish to this meal.

La Capinera

This restaurant has a very ambitious but locally influenced menu. It deservedly has 1 Michelin star and should have 2.

The view from our table, early evening, and the moon on high.

Tomato soup, with the consistency of gazpacho, a thick puree, with ricotta cheese, bread crumbs and olive oil. Wonderfully refreshing and an intense tomato flavour.

A warm salad of king prawns, clams, orange, fennel, almonds, fresh onions, olive oil and sun dried tomatoes

My dining companion's eggplant and potato gnocchi with chopped tomatoes, fried squid, cabbage, Sicilian cheese and olive oil.

My dining companion's perfectly cooked, very tender loin of lamb.

Artisan shaped paccheri sauteed with scampi, clams and fresh roasted tomatoes.

"Cheese cake" with raspberry puree and candied orange peel.

Cannoli filled with ricotta with orange marmelade, smoked orange tea jam and vanilla ice cream.

Da Giovanni

Very good octopus salad.

Fried squid. Not tender enough, not crispy enough and a touch greasy.

Very good saute di fruitti di mare, mostly mussels, some claims and a scallop.

Spaghetti with bottarga. Properly cooked pasta, Ok, but not a wow. 

Wonderful grilled prawns......edible head to tail with the shell.

Semifreddo di mandorla with chocolate sauce. 

The Restaurant at Grand Hotel Timeo

Sunset from the wonderful terrace of the Grand Hotel Timeo, the best place in Taormina to enjoy a pre-dinner drink.

I ordered one of the house cocktails. These were the snacks that came with the drink. The fried zucchini blossom was the standout, no filler, remarkably light batter, crispy and not greasy in the slightest and the blossom did not wilt when bitten. Other snacks: arancini, eggplant canape, ricotta and basil canape and marinated zucchini canape.

Ameuse: sweet red pepper mouse with raw tuna and topped with fried leek.

The raw fish selection to show the 2 sauces on the upper left, lemon olive oil and olive oil with herbs (parsley and basil).

The raw fish selection clockwise from the upper left: white anchovy; oyster; red and pink prawns;  prawn; tuna; swordfish; large prawn topped with a bit of caviar; grouper; sea urchin (the only disappointment). Quite an amazing raw fish experience and I can say this from the perspective of having just traveled in Japan.

Potato and ricotta gnocchi with an octopus ragu. Good gnocchi but the sauce was banal.

Sea bream cooked in a salt crust: presentation.

The sea bream, juicy and perfectly cooked, presented with veg and 3 olive oil based sauces: lemon, saffron and basil parsley.

Cassata ice cream with pistachio, baby cannolo and peach granita, a fitting finish.

Prince Cerami (at the San Domenico Hotel)

This is a serious resto with 2** Michelin stars.

The ameuse: a raviolo filled with ricotta and honey witha vanilla pear sauce, topped with fennel fronds.

All breads made in-house presented on a bread trolly.

The raw fish selection (not up to the standards of the Timeo) most of the fish was marinated in spices: From 12:00: shrimp with a puree of mint and fennel; swordfish; tuna with wild fennel; hake and saffron; avocado sauce; mandarin compote; sea asparagus in the middle. Garnishes were avaocado, mayo and mandarin marmelade.

Norma style spaghetti with cooked and raw red prawns, Mazzari prawn tail and cherry tomatoes. Quite delicious!

Saffron, lemon and buffalo milk mozzarella filled ravioli with squid, smoked red prawns and almond milk. Another amazing dish.

Sauteed grouper with mashed potatoes, olives, chives, capers from Pantellaria and braised celery.

The cheese cart.

A lovely selection of regional cheeses.

The pre-dessert: ornage granita and strawberry coulis. So good and refreshing, we ordered another.

White peach jelly, baked Leonforte yellow peach, peach mousse and crunchy almonds.

From 10 o'clock, clockwise: lemon jelly; strawberry salad; fruit kabob and yogurt; chocolate tart; chocolate with chili; pistachio and choclate.

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