Friday, April 29, 2016

Arrival in Catania

After retrieving our bags we made our way to ground transportation where we met our tour guide (Linda) and our bus driver (Mimmo). Linda is really nice and easy to talk with, she is originally from Naples and now lives in Rome. She has traveled and spent time in all parts of Italy but loves the southern part of the country. She works for Go Ahead Tours as a tour guide and she put the tour we are on together herself and has been doing it for about 11 months. We are on the Food and Wine: Southern Italy & Sicily tour which is for 13 days but we had the option to add a couple of days to spend in Naples, which we have done. So we will be here for 15 days. Once everyone had arrived we were shuttled to our hotel. We are staying at the Una Hotel Palace in Catania for three nights. We got checked in and then they delivered our bags to our room. We took a little time to freshen up and get settled in the room. Then at 6:00pm we met in the Etnea Roof Bar & Restaurant for cocktails with the group before heading out for dinner.

Our group of 18 + Linda (our tour guide) on the far right.
There are only 18 people on this tour so it should be relaxing and enjoyable since it isn't a big group. Most of the group (15 people) are letterboxers and then there are three other women that are signed up. We had prosecco and some light snacks (chips, peanuts, pistachios and capers). We visited for about a half hour and Linda gave us some information about the next two days. Then we boarded the bus for a short drive to the restaurant for dinner. We ate at KM.0 Ristorante just a short distance from the hotel. They were only opened for us tonight, so we had the place to ourselves. We didn't get to order what we wanted - they had a planned menu. First course . . . 2 pastas - one was Pasta alla Norma (A pasta dish in Sicilian cuisine from Catania, an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily. It's made with tomatoes, fried aubergine, grated ricotta salata cheese, and basil. It is supposedly named for the opera Norma by the Catania-born composer Vincenzo Bellini.) and the other one was a wide ring-shaped pasta with a meat sauce. Both of these were excellent. Second course . . . a pistachio crusted beef steak served on a bed of lettuce with a red wine reduction. This was also excellent. Third course . . . consisted of four desserts - one was a small custard or flan type dessert covered in a hazelnut sauce on top of a chocolate drizzle, then there was a small cup of homemade cinnamon ice cream, next was a cannoli with a vanilla cream filling and last was a small chocolate cake topped with almonds with a balsamic vinaigrette. All of these were delicious. We also had a choice of red or white wine with dinner. This place was incredible and the staff was so friendly - we had a great time and it was the perfect way to start off our food and wine tour of Southern Italy & Sicily. My only regret was that I was so tired that I didn't take pictures of the food we had tonight - it was as visually pleasing as it was delicious. But I found some pictures on the net . . .

This is one of the pasta dishes we had tonight.
This is a photo of one of our pasta dishes. Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor.
This is a photo of our second course. Photo is courtesy of TripAdvisor.
This is a photo of our dessert. Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor.
After dinner we returned to the hotel and settled in for the night. After a nice hot shower I sat down to write this blog post - even though I am tired I felt I needed to write this so I didn't forget the details. But now it is time to get some sleep so that I will be rested for a full day in Sicily tomorrow.


Tess Mayle said...

Mark I am so glad that you have shared this blog! You have done a terrific job. I too was tired and only got a photo of the desert that night. The pistachio crusted beef was one of my absolute favorites and I am not even a meat lover!

Mark said...

Hey Tess, Glad you enjoyed the blog. I am not sure that I got all the details right but I did try. This was an amazing trip and I will remember it always.