Many of us finish our summer holidays wishing we could recreate some of the meals we enjoyed in the dappled shade of an olive grove or overlooking a turquoise sea. Now, celebrity chef, Enzo Oliveri, has the answer. Kicking off from 24th July, he is offering a cooking masterclass at his Piccadilly restaurant, Tasting Sicily Enzo’s Kitchen. Participants will learn about traditional Sicilian cooking methods as well as getting the chance to make their own starter, main and dessert. Arancine (traditional Sicilian rice balls), caponata (aubergine stew) and pasta with sardines are only some of the dishes that might feature. Each class runs for two hours, with a maximum of twelve participants, and costs £120 per person, although an early booking discount reduces this to £80. Corporate clients can take advantage of special tailor-made classes.
The classes do not neglect Sicily’s world-famous vineyards. Each participant receives a free glass of red wine to enjoy with the three-course meal that rounds off each masterclass.
Although Sicily is the Mediterranean’s largest island and devotes as much land to vineyards as the whole of Australia, oenophiles require a little insider knowledge to get the best from the many wines available. As well as many international varieties of grapes, such as Syrah, many Sicilian producers are increasingly focussing on regional identities. Carricante, an ancient white grape, thought to have been growing on the slopes of Mount Etna for over a thousand years, is one such variety. It produces a wine described as “mineral, aromatic…from a completely different landscape”. Volcanic wine is becoming increasingly popular thanks to the unique geological conditions that favour the growth of quality grapes. The soil of volcanic slopes such as those of Etna is rich in essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, sulphur, iron and silica. This helps the plants regulate their growth and results in grape vintages that retain more acidity than usual, contributing to their freshness and longevity.