Chestnuts and Artichokes in Sicily

The fall/winter season came quickly.  In November we had a very mild month and then all of the sudden we woke up one morning chilled to the bone with a storm.  We found Mt. Etna with a huge snow cap on it already!  During this time of year you start seeing a whole new batch of foods at the market.  Chestnuts (castagne pronounced: Cas-tah-nee) are one of them.  On the side of the roads you will see this giant billowing of smoke coming out of what looks like  a chimney starter.  Inside they are roasting a boatload of chestnuts.  The locals love these things.  On my many attempts of trying them from several different sources (based on recommendations of locals)… they are all similarly bad.  I think that its the texture of the chestnuts that I don’t like.  They have this mealy kind of chalkiness to them that just sucks your mouth dry.  Sorry for the graphic explanation, but I hope that it made it clear…ha.

On the other hand Artichokes (carciofi  pronounced:  Car-cho-fee) are also showing up! I love how fresh these are.  Right now you can get a bag full of them, like the picture below, for a few euro.  In California I had my share of artichokes, but for some reason I am obsessed with the artichokes here.  It might be the suspense of waiting for the season to come around or just the fact that everyone else gets real excited about them.  You see the streets filled with smoke from bbqs roasting the artichokes basted in olive oil.  The smell makes me feel like Toucan Sam following my nose.  Personally I have  a few different ways that I prepare them, but my favorite right now is to marinate them.  I will have to post the recipe for this.  Hope that everyone is having a good start to the winter season. 🙂

Close up of a Sicilian chestnut
Bag of chestnuts….No thanks 🙂
Would you like some chestnuts?!
Carciofi? Si !!
Bag of Carciofi. Bellissima!

 

 

7 Replies to “Chestnuts and Artichokes in Sicily”

  1. Hey Nick, Fancy here. I HAVE to comment because I never got the whole chestnut thing either. They do them in France too and theirs are no better. How do the artichokes differ from California? know you must be enjoying a little change of seasons in the food!

    1. Its funny because if you say you don’t like them to the Sicilians they will look at you like you punched a baby in the face. Then they tell me that I must have gotten chestnuts from the Calabria region not Sicilian. Because the Sicilian chestnuts are far superior in taste. 🙂 Its all pretty funny because no matter what chestnut we have tried ..we are forcing them down.

      The artichokes look to be a different variety for starters. I think the variety here is more of a Chianti, while those in the States are Globes. I found a good article on the different types at: http://www.saveur.com/article/Techniques/Nine-Artichoke-Varieties

      But I think the main reason they differ is the freshness. We are buying them right off the truck that was filled at the farm. Oranges and blood oranges are next in season and Im really looking forward to that because they really are the best oranges I have ever had.

  2. Nick and Jessica,

    Dave just turned me on to your website (or do you call it a blog?). I am loving it. Kathie and I are very jealous of your experience. Kathie and I took our two sons to Ireland in May. Had a fantastic time (sounds like you guys did also). Next time get over to the West Coast (especially the town of Dingle), I think you guys would really enjoy.

    I have two friends who are headed to Italy next year and I have turned them on to your website. Will let you know what they think next time we sit down with them. Their names are Larry and Lauri Dean and Ron and Joanne Facciolla (Joannes Mom and Dad were born in the Abruzzi region and Rons family is from the Calabria region), just in case you hear from them.

    Keep up the good work. Ciao

    John & Kathie Tompkins
    (Dave and Nancy’s friends from Cal Poly)

    1. Hi John & Kathie! Thanks for stopping by. Im glad that you like the blog. 🙂 I will remember that about Ireland. Im hoping that we get another chance to head up there, but we are overwhelmed with places to travel to.. as you can imagine. I will keep my eyes open for your friends heading out this way. We actually haven’t been up to Calabria yet, but its supposed to have a lot of great places. Hope you guys are doing well and talk with you later.

  3. Please do post the recipe for marinating artichokes! We love them in this house, but I’ve been pretty un-inventive so far: just steaming with butter and garlic and then dipping them in… butter and garlic. I need to get more clever with them this season. They are definitely worth the wait!

    1. Its always tough to beat butter and garlic on anything! 🙂 But I think that it is a good change up. Now Im motivated to post the recipe. I just have to get some artichokes and make them again this week to make sure I get the recipe right.

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