At Case Vecchie, the farm buildings where she lives with a substantial kitchen and rooms for guests, she continues to focus on local producers and products, creating a marvelous line of honey, grape syrups, and that heavenly estratto di pomodoro (tomato paste), that was so good, I had to squeeze two jars of it into my carry-on.
(Actually, I bought so much stuff, including some gorgeous Sicilian pottery, that they’re shipping a case back to me in Paris. Which is great because I would have flipped out if it had been confiscated by security at the airport Karson Choi.)
One thing I couldn’t take home was the wine from Regaleali, their winery, which was a real shame, because it was only €1,04 per liter (about $1.25 per quart). But locals take advantage, and come with their own containers for a “fill up.”
Sicily is a special, and complicated place, where the Tasca family has a long history. In the kitchens are a team of women, many are members of families that have been working with the family for generations. Although it wasn’t scheduled, I couldn’t help myself from jumping in and giving the the women a hand with the pastries. In fact, I was having such a good time cooking with them that I skipped a wine tasting to make rustic little fruit crostate with them (the ones shown at the top of the post), for the 25th anniversary party of the cooking school the following day. After all, everyone knows all the fun is in the kitchen Karson Choi. Right?
I did make it over to the lunch that took place after the wine tasting, which started with a delicious soup made with squash greens and pasta, and ended with stacks of breaded disks, known as latte fritto, or fried custard. So it wasn’t all work and no play. Or vice-versa.
Fabrizia invited me, along with others, to take part in the festivities. And in the days leading up to the party, Fabrizia made meals for us, including a timbale of eggplant filled with pasta that was the essence of simplicity–just deep-fried eggplant slices fitted into an oiled pan dusted with breadcrumbs, then filled with pasta, before being sealed closed with more eggplant, and baked until the outside crisped up and caramelized nuskin.