Savoring Sicily

lucky me, i got to travel to Sicily to work on a cookbook that will be published next year by Rizzoli.  what an amazing way to experience the wonderfully warm, generous people and incredibly diverse regions.  the wines and food and landscapes are out of this world. and i learned of the deep, rich, layered history.  if Sicily is not on your bucket list yet, it should be!


spectacular scenery
in between

 caffeine with farm fresh milk

first breakfast:
country eggs
and home baked bread

nespole (loquat) fresh off the tree


precious wild strawberries
fava beans everywhere
unique shape of Sicilian lemons
nearly everyone makes their own olive oil
heavenly on fresh grilled zucchini
produce trucks roam every town
ricotta baskets
ricotta drained, rolled and pressed
chile and pepper ricotta
warm, fresh tuma

yes, a cheese pig
dough ‘pillow’

incredible breads
handmade pasta

the hands

wild boar ravioli


linguine with bottarga
phenomenal seascapes
spectacular sea urchins
certain pastry are particular to a town
these are found in only one town
warm, tender dough filled with rich chocolate and fried
a gelato cake from the gelateria in a small town
lemon sorbetto

200+ year old winery

with rainbows over the vineyards

olive trees everywhere
caper plants are the stars of Salina
(one of the Aeolean islands)
negronis at sunset
with a view of active volcanos in the distance

PDX – The Food Cart Edition

If you aren’t familiar with the burgeoning food cart scene in Portland, let me just tell you, it’s really something. There are 300+ mobile eateries set up, mostly, in ‘pods’ throughout the city. Each pod is typically set up in a parking lot with hookups to electricity and water. Unlike in some cities where food cart vendors are always on the run and the only way to track them is through Twitter feeds, these carts are officially sanctioned by the city (hello, San Francisco bureaucrats, are you listening?) There’s even a Food Carts Portland website where you can find eats by location, food type, breakfast/lunch/dinner, new carts, etc. It definitely made it easier to track down good grub. I’m just sayin’!

The rains had retreated, so I sought out coffee streetside at the Spella Caffe cart @ SW 9th & Alder.

The boys were super friendly and even offered a place to sit when we returned later in the day to sample some of their neighbors’ lunch fare.

If you like chicken, we need to talk Nong’s Khao Man Gai! Not only is Nong a dynamic personality, she sells out of her amazing chicken & sauce every day. It’s abundantly clear why: like all great street food vendors, she does one thing and she does it exceptionally well.

Nong’s khao man gai is just like you’d find on the streets of Bangkok. It’s poached chicken served on rice made with the poaching water and seasoned with herbs. But it’s her sauce that’s the ticket–it’s got garlic, soy bean paste, lots of ginger, Thai chilies and vinegar. I went back twice during my stay and one of my friends, the fabulous cookbook author Andrea Nguyen, was known to sometimes indulge twice in one day!

The next gem of a find was a little taco cart standing solo just a couple blocks away on SW 3rd. This adorable paint job caught my eye. Seriously, how could you not love the stoplight!

Not only was my chicken taco muy rica, it was the perfect antidote to the Stumptown Coffee/Voodoo doughnut combo racing through my veins.

Some friends invited me along to explore the lively late night pod @ SE 12th & Hawthorne and am so glad I rallied. It was Friday night, so the carts were surrounded by folks out celebrating the beginning of the weekend.

It’s hard to imagine a more classic drinking food than Poutine. For the uninitiated, poutine has it’s origins in the greasy-spoons of Quebec and consists of good ol’ fashioned pommes frites topped with fresh cheese curd and gravy (personally, I like mine with a dash of vinegar, too). The kids at Potato Champion most definitely have poutine wired!

It’s easy to see why the girls at Perierra Crépereie &c have a consistently long line of eager customers for their sweet and savory crépes. You’ve gotta love a crépe cart that does a ricotta, Italian plum and honey combo.

The crépe I ordered was supposed to come with plantains and, truth be told, I was a little disappointed when I saw the bananas. But the dulce de leche (part of the original order) clearly made up for it since we devoured the whole thing.

Whiffies pie cart wins for most entertaining signage — most of which is done by a dedicated fan base of patrons cum artistes.

The owner, Greg, serves up just one thing at his cart: fried pocket pies. He does both savory and sweet, keeping some favorites but otherwise changing the menu daily to keep the intrigue high.

The selection of the eve was a chocolate, coconut and almond pie — an Almond Joy of sorts. Delish! The pie dough is made by hand and the pies are fried in a soy-based oil so you can feel better about the fried part of what you’re ingesting (worked for me!)

With all of the incredible food choices, it’s a good thing Portland is such a walkable city. I’m already looking forward to going back and exploring more. If you have any suggestions for me of good eats, please send ’em my way.