Our first visit was with Olga, the diminutive local cheese-maker. She had just finished the ricotta production, and our presentation was interrupted by the locals, buying their ricotta for the weekend. Olga's family owns 600 sheep and their pecorino cheeses are delicious. We sampled the ricotta and the aged pecorino while we were there. Using traditional methods handed down from 4 generations, her husband, and sons take care of the sheep in the fields, and she takes care of business.
|Left to right: Matteo, Pierfillipo, Olga|
|Where the ricotta is cooked|
|semolina bread with oil, and oregano|
After this we climbed into a Land Rover, and were off to meet Aldo the local Shaman and herbalist. Climbing hills, driving down ruts between the fields, bumping along with the terrain, we finally arrived at his home in the hills.
Originally from Bologna, this 68 year old man lives in his home surrounded by his plants. An expert on herbs, he makes potions for people, using the curative properties of the herbs, to help heal. He's the essential oils guy for this area. He served us a vegetarian lunch flavored with his edible plants, and then led us on a tour of his property, picking herbs and making each of the ladies a bouquet of the herbs. The Land Rover had never smelled so good!
|Aldo has been a vegetarian for over 30 years|
|explaining how he uses the plants|
|Explaining his oils|
|Pistachios, harvested every 2 years|
|And......a refrigerator in the middle of the yard, just because|
|Beautiful vistas wherever you look|
|No joke, this is the 'road'--this part was actually one of the better parts 😉|
After a long bone chattering drive back to Sant'Angelo Muxaro, we were off to Mandronova for an olive oil tasting. Mandranova makes 6 types of olive oil, 5 from single type olives and one blend.
Sylvia, the owner of the estate, guided us through the crushing of the olives, to the final product. Then we sat down to taste the oils, in a guided olive oil tasting. The oils here in Sicily are quite spicy, probably due to the soil and the climate.
Our dinner that night was again family style, beginning with a zucchini soup made from the huge zucchini that we found in the markets in Palermo. The pasta was a white ragu, so with meat and peas, but no tomato. The main course was mackeral wrapper in lemon leaves with a potato-like risotto and capers. Our dessert was what they call a chocolate salame, chocolate dough rolled with almonds then cut to look like salame.
Author's Note: The internet here in Sicily tends to be slow, I'm a bit behind on my posts, since there are so many photos to download. I'll be up and running when we return to Spello.