Getting ready for dinner
Molly, Jeri, and David with our hosts
Another beautiful, sunny morning. Today we planned to hike La Rocca, the 1800 ft. promontory overlooking Cefalu. The hike began on steps up to the 1st perimeter wall of the fortress, but soon turned to a rocky footpath that at times overlooked sheer vertical walls. Along the walk we found ruins of the wall, huge cisterns, and guard towers. Mandrake flowers (not the screaming ones from Harry Potter) lined the trail to the upper perimeter wall. We finally felt like we were walking off a few of the several 100,000 calories we’d consumed over the past 10 days.
When we reached the bottom, we were at the Piazza Duomo where we had been told the best gelato in all of Sicily could be found. So, after using the bar/gelatteria’s bathrooms, we felt compelled to try out there gelato. It tasted pretty good after hiking! From here we walked to the fishermen’s quarter for lunch. Angela had arranged for us to have a 4 course lunch, but fortunately, we didn’t get the message before we ordered 2 pizzas and 2 salads to share. That was more than we needed, given what was planned next for us.
We left Cefalu in the late afternoon for a drive to Polizzi Generosa, Angela’s home town, in the hills in the Madonie Mountains. Plizzi Generosa got its name because of its magnanimity to Charlemagne when he visited the town. In the city hall there is painting of Charlemagne receiving the key to the city from the city fathers. Our first stop was a visit to the Pasticceria del Castello, Angela's favorite pastry shop. Polizzi is known for their hazelnut pastries, which were sampled by all but yours truly. I had my epi pen,though, just in case. We then made canollis in their bakery using ricotta made from ewe's milk direct from the shepherd in the nearby hills. It was really organic, no pasteurization, no additives or preservatives. The ricotta filling was REAL GOOD! We packaged up our cannolis for later eating at Angela's parents home.
Angela was apparently well known in town, getting us an audience with the mayor, dragging him out of a council meeting to meet us. We then walked to Angela’s parents’ house. Her parents were very welcoming opening their home to us and patiently teaching us the art of Sicilian cooking. We learned proper technique for making homemade tagliatelli (like fettucini), and arancini, fried rice balls with a variety of fillings. While we waited for dinner to cook, Dave gave tennis lessons to Angela’s husband.
We eventually sat down to all eat and drink. Boy did we eat and drink. The 1st course was appetizers that included fried chick pea flour, fried artichokes, fried ricotta, and an asparagus omelet. The 2nd course was the arancini that we made, followed by a fantastic pasta dish (with our hand made tagliatelli) with mushrooms and wild asparagus both picked in the woods by Angela’s father (he obviously knew which mushrooms were edible since we lived to tell the tale). The final course (we thought) was the chicken dish we prepared earlier, rolled chicken filled with a mixture of vegetables and spices and for the others, prosciutto and cheese. We were now quite stuffed, anticipating the cannolis we had made earlier, when our next course was fruit. We felt like we were at Milt and Rhonda’s table. The fruit, though, was fresh picked prickly pears. We had seen these in Israel (sabra cacti) but had not eaten it. They were delicious, but full of hard tiny seeds that Jeri and Molly could not quite get past. Then we had a pre-cannoli dessert, a milk pudding that was also quite good. Throughout dinner we drank a local red wine, and now Angela’s mom brought out home made lemoncello. I had had this before in the states and thought it was horrible. The home-made lemoncello, on the other hand, was amazing. We got the recipe for this as well as all the other food that we ate. Then, espresso, cakes and more home-made liqueur, this time walnut liqueur that Angela’s dad made from walnuts he again had picked in the wild. It was now time for the cannolis, but no one had any room left, so we decided to save them for tomorrow. After a brief tour of their home, and final photos, our hosts bade farewell to us and we made our way back to our farmhouse to get ready for our last day in Sicily.
Though the night was crystal clear when we arrived back at the farmhouse, some time after midnight we awoke to rolling thunder that was quite impressive. We had some concerns for our cycling and trekking plans for tomorrow.