Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sicilian Bread and Wine

This quintessential food and wine pairing was served at Margherita Platania’s Cavaliere estate on the southwest flank of Mount Etna, about 1,000 meters (mille metri) above sea level.   Margherita and her husband Saro brought us in the morning to a piccolo bakery (literally, a hole-in-the-wall) in Santa Maria di Licodia on our way up to their mountain vineyards.  Round loaves were being pulled from the brick oven as we entered through the unmarked portal.  An older mother and daughter manned the oven like the chief and second engineers in the engine room of a vintage steamship.  By the time we finished our walk-through of the walled vineyards (planted all in alberello), we were eager to sample the old-vine Nerello Mascalese Etna Rosso, Don Blasco, and that heavenly pane.  It was a match made on Etna!  Fresh salami from the Nebrodi Mountains and Ragusano cheese with black pepper complemented the bread and wine.  Both the Don Blasco and the Etna Rosso called Millemetri (which is made from younger vines) show the potential of this high-elevation property.  The Cavaliere estate was prized as a vineyard site in the late 19th century – as chronicled in Federico De Roberto's The Viceroys, an incisive novel about Catania's aristocratic families of that period.  Margherita and Saro are restoring this storied land with both heart and head.

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