A Weekend in Italy

Ravioli with Fish

So lately I wonder whether this blog even deserves to be associated with food writing: after all, it seems as though all I’m doing lately is running around Europe or North America; taking pictures of things I eat; and then, after finding myself too busy to actually take the time to write about said delicacies, hurriedly posting the photos and moving on to more delights.

After I returned to London from my grandmother’s funeral, I was pleased to find a weekend holiday I had booked way back in September waiting for me. My flatmate and I would be flying to Palermo, Sicily for the weekend, and I definitely needed it. Visions of pasta, Michael Corleone and bustling street markets filled with fresh fish, olives and fruit wafted through my thoughts. Needing a break from the months of stress and worry about my family, I was so happy to have a weekend to pick up the pieces and rebuild my foundation.

It was very good that I had little expectations for the trip beyond food and rest, as for the first time in my history of European weekend mini-breaks, there was nothing but pouring rain for three straight days. Palermo, so far south of London, with palm trees, was freezing cold and not so much fun outdoors. However, this mattered little, as we were happy to spend our afternoons watching The Godfather on our hotel’s massive DVD-projector room, as well as searching out pizzerias in the rain, pizzerias where we drank wonderful vino rossi and attempted to successfully eat our way through gigantic Italian lunches of antipasti, pasta, meat and dessert. So much food!

Our first evening, we arrived at our hotel around at 11 pm, starved and bitter after looking at paper-wrapped Ryanair sandwiches that cost 5 euros apiece. Luckily, we turned the corner from our hotel and found a hidden trattoria on the second floor. Although they seemed to be three minutes away from closing for the evening, they served us, and I ordered spaghetti con cozze y pomodorino (spaghetti with mussels and cherry tomatoes).

Spaghetti with Mussels and Tomatoes

One bite and I remembered what al dente really means: the pasta was firm and chewy. It was so different from the slightly softer versions I’d become used to eating outside of Italy, but not at all in a detrimental way. The massive amounts of olive oil drenching the dish and the fresh parsley scattered throughout gave it the simple, fresh and utterly Italian experience I was looking for.

The next day my flatmate K and I headed throughout the rainy streets to try and do a bit of shopping before the chilly weather crushed our spirits. We had asked earlier where ‘a food market’ was at our hostel … only to carefully follow the instructions and end up arriving at a supermarket – not exactly what we had in mind. Luckily, the town centre of Palermo is small, and after a few twists and turns in the narrow streets of the old city we found ourselves in a tiny fish market, filled with fresh, delicious-looking samples from the ocean that made us really unhappy we didn’t have marine access on a constant basis back home.

For our last meal in Palermo, we decided to go out somewhere really nice. Our guidebook recommended a 100-year-old Sicilian restaurant. I don’t remember much about the dishes we ate there – but admittedly this trip happened six weeks ago and I’m only writing about it now. Suffice to say, it was delicious. I’ll leave you with some photos:

Tortellini en Brodo

Tortellini en Brodo


Stuffed Meat

Stuffed Meat Objects


Mixed Seafood

Fritto Misto

In closing, I know N and I seem to have disappeared in the last few weeks or so, and it isn’t because we love this food blog any less, or (as newly divorced couples tell their children) because of anything you did. We both got busy with jobs, my university term got really busy – and well, these things happen. Here’s hoping that 2008 brings even more success to Hand to Mouth than 2007. Happy non-denominational holiday season to everyone!


This entry was posted in Obeisance at the Altar of Gastroporn, Restaurants, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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