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Zurers In Viaggio

Zurers In Viaggio
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  • Zurers In Viaggio

    Post #1 - June 2nd, 2004, 9:40 am
    Post #1 - June 2nd, 2004, 9:40 am Post #1 - June 2nd, 2004, 9:40 am
    Many of you met my mom and dad at Gary's house. They are travelling in Italy (Sicily, Calabria, and Lazio) for a month and are documenting their travels and meals at

    A sample for your delectation, from Agrigento, including a request for Panelle (the chickpea fritters that Cathy2 "discovered" in the burbs!):

    We say goodbye to Michele--he has a tour group at 10 am--and head back to the hotel. We sit outside and write postcards, enjoying the weather, the view and the grounds. We decide to have a picnic for lunch at the hotel so we drive into Agrigento to get some bread and is a busy Saturday morning, but I find a parking space not far from the "centro". We go back to the same bakery and "frutta verdura" that we went to nine years earlier....we buy some tomatoes, olives and--on impulse--a large sack of pistachio nuts. On the way back to the car, we pass a man selling cheese out of his truck and we buy a sizable piece of fresh ricotta for Euro 1.

    Back at the hotel, we feast on ham, salami, cheese, olives and--according to Diana--the best tomatoes she has ever had...small cherry tomatoes bursting with flavor. After lunch, we just hang out and read, rest and write.....we are really taking advantage of the grounds of the hotel.

    Later in the afternoon, we get in the car and head for Palma di Montechiaro as part of our Lampedusa itinerary. Lampedusa went to stay in the town near the end of his life--it has been a family fief in earlier times--but now he had a chance to be an "ordinary" citizen. It is significant because several key scenes and location for "The Leopard" are drawn from his stay in Palma di Montechiaro and from the life of his grandfather, who lived here.. Although the town is somewhat shabby and rundown, we visit the "mother church"--the cathedral--which was built by his family and the convent next door which inspired another key scene.

    Driving back to Agrigento, we notice again the rows and rows of plastic covered plantings--sort of rough greenhouses--covering acres and acres of melons, tomatoes and other crops......when you look at the scenery from a distance, it appears to be a sea of plastic. We make a gelato stop at the beach resort of Marina di Palma, a run down and quiet (in the off-season) beach resort and then head back to Agrigento. We stop at the last temple....set high on the end of the ridge. We try to use the ticket that we had purchased this morning for entrance to the other two temples....but the ticket taker thinks that we need to buy a new ticket. He can't explain to us why he thinks that and we can't convey why we don't think we need to buy a new ticket. In the end, he reluctantly lets us pass. It is good climb to the temple and the stairway is in some disrepair but we inspect the Temple of Giunone and enjoy the view over the valley to the sea and back to the town.

    Dinner tonight is at Leon D'Oro in the beach town of San Leone, just a few minutes away from our hotel. We had eaten there nine years earlier and I have recommended it to many clients. Luckily, we had made reservations in the afternoon because, although the restaurant is virtually empty at eight o'clock when we arrive, the maitre d' is soon turning away customers without reservations. There is also a large party in the next room--a French tour group of about 40--who are having dinner. This, combined with the regular Saturday night crowd--the Italians start arriving about 9 pm--makes for stress for the staff. They are having a hard time taking care of all the customers and they seem to be shorthanded.

    Our food is quite good.....I start with smoked tuna roulades wrapped around a cheese filling and Diana has the antipasto Siciliana. When she asks for "panelle"--chick pea fritters--the waiter says they don't have them tonight but they show up in the antipasto and in another plate for the table. My pasta is fettucine with small octopii and fava beans and Diana has a "maltagliati" (a wide pasta similar to pappardelle) with a vegetable sauce. For seconds, I have a grilled fish (picked out for me by the waiter--he brings it by for my approval on its way to the kitchen) and Diana has "involitini di vitello", thin pieces of veal wrapped around a cheese filling. Everything is very good....although my fish is not as spectacular as I had hoped for....and we also are enjoying watching the customers as they arrive and get settled.

    However, we get a bit more of the people watching than we really want. The "disapperaring Italian waiter" scenario materializes and we have great difficulty getting someone to offer us dessert or the check. In fact, the waiters did not "disappear", but they were so busy with getting food for the rest of the customers, that our need for the check was a lower priority. After all, we had already gotten our food.

    In any case, we finally get our check and the waiters are somewhat apologetic......but it just took too long for two tired American tourists. The bill is very reasonable for the amount of food and wine we consumed....about Euro 65.00. It is a quick ride back to the hotel, a fast view of the temples lit up on the ridge and to bed.
  • Post #2 - June 2nd, 2004, 3:16 pm
    Post #2 - June 2nd, 2004, 3:16 pm Post #2 - June 2nd, 2004, 3:16 pm
    Lovely to read. Thanks for posting. My mouth watered; as did my heart and brain.

    I have long thought about, but never taken initiative toward, the idea of travelling with a group to a given region - ideally somewhat off the hardcore tourist track - and renting one of those large rambling houses that one can get for not very much. (Hotels are just too much for this modest family. And staying out of town and using a rental car still pushes the budget for any reasonably long vacation.) But these place that sleep 8-10, and have a kitchen and are 20 min. out of town can really bring down the costs.

    What would people think about an LTH Forum trip? My off-the-bat thought would be maximum freedom for all in terms of what anyone does, and simply pooling accomodations and car rental, etc. for maximum cost efficiency.

    Purely hypothetically, if a group of 10-12 rents a place and maybe 2-3 cars among the group, people could more or less sleep and rise whenever they chose; car pool into town or out for day excursions and reconvene in small or large groups as they were moved either in restaurants or to cook back at the ranch.

    Lot's of logistics, lots of potential quagmires, but with all the various events this group has assembled and the launch of this board, it seems as likely a group as any since the second continental congress to get it done without bloodshed.

    Just an outside-the-box thought from inside the corporate cube.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #3 - June 6th, 2004, 1:35 pm
    Post #3 - June 6th, 2004, 1:35 pm Post #3 - June 6th, 2004, 1:35 pm

    Chickpea Fritters or Polenta, my original post:


    My follow-up post with additional information:

    Innocent report had a great level of interest than originally expected.


    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #4 - June 10th, 2004, 4:53 pm
    Post #4 - June 10th, 2004, 4:53 pm Post #4 - June 10th, 2004, 4:53 pm
    Looks just like the ones I had last month in Sicily (Trapani and Palermo)......the chickpea fritters are an improbable candidate for a sandwich, but they work.

    Jim Zurer
    Washington DC