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Handmade Ricotta

So… when was the last time you were in a rustic farmhouse in Sicily eating handmade pasta and handmade ricotta?

If you were us, the last time would have been this afternoon.

George, our landlord at Villa Modica is unbelievable. He arranged a luncheon for us today at a farm outside of Modica where the owners made homemade ricotta, homemade pastas – that’s plural – plied us with drink, meats, cheeses, baked pasta hors d’oeuvres and antipasti, 7 or 8 courses of food that went on for hours.

Yes. Hours.

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I can’t even begin to describe the day. But you know I’m going to, anyway!

When we walked in they were stirring the milk, heating it to the proper 180°F. Victor makes ricotta, so the process wasn’t unfamiliar – but the final product was just unbelievable. It’s the ingredients. They milk their cows and sheep and make cheese. No middleman. It’s unbelievably good.

The pastas were a cappelini, a ravioli, and a stuffed fried dessert ravioli shaped like a priests hat. I don’t recall the name, but that’s the literal translation.

We started off with antipasto.

Olives, salumi, eggplant, fritatta, cheses – the cheeses made at the farm.

Then diffeent baked pastas – It looked like sheets of pasta spread with different fillings and then rolled and baked – in a brick oven, of course.

Small rolls made of semolina – a bruschetta of olive oil made at the farm – and garlic and herbs. All of it was a gastronomic delight.

And then bowls of ricotta curds fresh from the pot.

Again, a taste sensation you just can’t experience elsewhere. Rich, creamy, with the slightest almost-hint of lemon. I ate a lot.

And then the food started to arrive.

“Wet Ricotta” with hunks of a semolina bread that just soaked up the liquid. It was like eating a bowl of chunky cream. I went for it and finished the bowl.

That was cleared and the pastas started arriving.

First the cappelini. Every one of those were make by hand. Perfectly made by hand. Again, Victor makes homemade pasta – and his pasta is stellar. But every one of these looked exactly the same. By hand. It was in a sausage and tomato sauce that was rich yet not overpowering. Simple and perfect.

And ravioli stuffed with the fresh ricotta. I’ve made ravioli and can’t cut a straight line for beans. She cut every one of them effortlessly in perfect squares while talking and barely paying attention. Perfect squares.

And when we couldn’t possibly eat anything else, the meats arrived.

Pork chops, bacon, and sausages grilled on a wood-burning grill. OMG!  A squeeze of lemon – just a simple squeeze of lemon – sent it over the top.

And while all of this was going on, liters and liters of wine, beer, waters and sodas kept arriving at the table.

Finally, when we just couldn’t possibly eat another bite, dessert arrived. the simple fried priests hats – filled with a cinnamon and lemon ricotta that was to die for.

Along with the dolce came homemade lemoncello and espresso. Personally, I think Victor’s lemoncello is better, but this was damned good And a shot of lemoncello in an espresso is a great way to end a meal.

Over three hours of eating and talking and having a great time.  And then we went to a winery for a bit of wine-tasting.

It was a really small winery – no idea how many cases they produce a year – but we tasted a few great wines and brought a couple of bottles back with us.

The had a no-sulfate wine named Rememorie della terra – Remember the Earth – that was excellent. I wish they could ship directly to our home and not have to deal with the sate system.

Five hours after leaving the house, we crawled back in and down to the pool to moan and groan and relive the fabulous experience.

No dinner tonight.

Just great memories of a once in a lifetime experience.

And… some great ideas for dishes when we get home. Some of the dishes are going to be replicated.

 

 

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