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UK Best Small Shops – we’re finalists!

The Independent Retailer’s Federation who champions independents on the high street has selected Papadeli as one of 25 UK wide small shops and independent retailers in its best indie retailer competition. The winner will be announced at the House of Commons on November 5th at a ceremony which we are invited to attend – we are pretty excited about this as you can imagine!

You can read more about this in The Bristol Post article here.

The high street is struggling with more people shopping online and costs rising for bricks and mortar retailers. From business rates to the threat of Brexit, the challenges are becoming insurmountable for some, with 16 small shops closing a day according The Guardian.

We’ve been in business for nearly 18 years and have seen the high street change drastically. Independent retailers keep towns buzzing and communities together, so we’d love to see the high street thrive.

We do our very best to keep things interesting and fresh and to keep ahead of the curve with what we stock in the shop, sourcing local and national / European , innovative and original items that are hard to find elsewhere.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Bordeaux & Espiens holiday

What we ate and what we saw.

I  studied French and always loved France – I spent as much time as possible there before and during university but France somehow dropped off the radar and over the past years, we’ve spent the majority of holidays in Spain and Italy.

This year, having realised we’d neglected this wonderful country, we decided to go to France for our Summer holiday, hoping to rediscover its land, culture and food (of course).

We spent four nights in Bordeaux staying in a two bed airbnb in the Chartrons district of the city. It’s the heart of the historic part and easy to get around on foot from here. The apartment was owned by a couple and not some large apartment company, which is always nice as you get more feel for the city and people. Get in touch if you’d like the details.

We spent our days walking around the city visiting art galleries, parks, and many of the sights. The CAPOC museum of contemporary art stood out, particularly its cool roof top restaurant (lunch definitely recommended) and Bristol’s very own Richard Long stone sculpture.

Richard Long Bordeaux

For a small city, there is an incredible amount of restaurants ( many with Michelin stars). The ones we ate at were generally good but pretty pricey (Lou Lou, Petit Bec et).  We did eat in the touristy areas as well as places where there were locals and prices were similar.  Most of the French restaurants featured duck, steak, veal (they do like their meat) and fish on the menu and all were pretty good. There are plenty of places to hang out for an aperitif, from little squares, the Darwin eco system which is super hipster on the other side of the river to roof top bars, like Mama Bordeaux which we absolutely loved.  They do food here, but we just had drinks.  They also have rooms which look pretty cool.  The Chartrons market square is a great place to drink, eat and people watch of an evening as is Place de Quinconces.

Chartrons square
Chartrons market square

Bordeaux is of course famous for its wine and there are so many opportunities to sample at shops, wine bars etc. We went to La Cite du Vin which is a short tram ride or 20 min walk from Chartrons.  This industrial area of the city is obviously being developed with blocks of flats going up everywhere.  The Cite du vin is in a super modern silver decanter shaped building and if you’re a wine lover, you’ll be able to spend hours learning about terroir, history, taste, smell etc in this interactive museum. I’m not that dedicated to wine but learnt a lot and was impressed by the extremely imaginative ways they got the information across. You can then access the roof top views of the city with a glass of your choice of wine from an amazing international selection. Simon would easily have spent a great deal longer here and had to be persuaded to leave 🙂

La Cite du vin - wine museum in Bordeaux
La Cite du Vin

Opposite here is Les Halles de Bacalan, a large warehouse with many small food and drink stalls.  We sat and had langoustine and a chilled glass of rose which were very reasonably priced and absolutely delicious. There is also cheese, charcuterie, crepes, boulangeries ( Bordeaux is home to vanilla scented castle shaped caneles), bars etc, so you can spend quite some time here sampling all the regional specialities.

Caneles in Bordeaux
Delicious caneles

The beginning of August sees “Liberte” a cultural exhibition that takes over old, forgotten buildings.  We stumbled across Le Temple des Chartrons whose interior had been transformed into an eerie, rubble filled space with the theme of light and time.  With images reminiscent of the burning Notre Dame it was both fascinating and haunting.  If you’re in Bordeaux at this time of year, it’s worth looking up


We then left the city and spent a week staying at Peyres near Espiens in Gascony, a 90 minute drive inland. A stunning house with pale blue shutters and views of the vine covered hills into the distance.  At night we saw shooting starts and all was brilliantly clear thanks to the minimal light pollution. Not to everyone’s taste, Peyres is a very much lived in home.  Peter the owner spends Spring every year here and leaves it exactly as he would like to find it.  All is clean and comfortable, but what we loved was the original art work and antique furniture.  There are shelves of books you can read and the pantry full of condiments, oils etc, so you don’t have to bring your own.  All they ask is that you replace what you use.  An excellent house for entertaining, Peyres has a large kitchen with a chandelier lit by candles, enormous oak table as well as plenty of outside space to eat and take in the views.  Its incredible peaceful and completely dark in the bedrooms at night, which meant we all had lots of sleep! If you’re into five star, modern accommodation and multiple ensuites, you won’t like it, as the upstairs three bedrooms share a bathroom, but our families weren’t bothered about such things and preferred the huge amounts of character the house offered, along with the beautiful views and peace and quiet.

Airbnbn Espiens
View from Peyres

Once again, travelling with our very own private chef (Simon aka Papa), we were able to buy seasonal, regional produce in the markets and eat incredible meals each evening overlooking the vine covered hills. In the afternoons, after a morning outing, it was so good to dip into the pool (hoping not to be jumped on by one of the boys), surrounded by lavender buzzing with bees and miniature bee hummingbirds. Bliss. Our very own cocktail waiters and mixologists, Tom and Hemali arrived with a tray each afternoon of drinks and nibbles. Most enjoyable.

nectaries for sale
Nerac market

A ten minute drive away gets you to Nerac, a lovely medieval market town.  We had lunch one day at Cafe du Concert by the river, which has a simple menu of salads or steak/ saucisson / duck and frites. We all got very excited about the puddings which were a fabulous range of ice cream sundaes.  I had the Armagnac one as it is, afterall,  the land of Armagnac. The owner is extremely friendly and welcoming and organises concerts (one the following Saturday, starring Johnny Halliday’s guitarists who is from Nerac, nonetheless). Lou Bin, the town’s specialist wine shop, holds frequent tastings and has a great range of local wines and spirits.  We went here a lot as certain members of our group became partial to the sparkling wine and charming owner 🙂

Cafe Liégeois at Cafe du Concert

We loved the restaurant by the Henry IV museum, L’Escadron Volant and had lunch here the first day – a stunning steak frites and a pretty good Thai duck dish followed by breakfast on our last day – waffles and crepes.

Mezin cafe du marche
Cheese in Mezin
Mezin market and cheesemonger

You can go to a market or two) every day of the week in this region.  On the Sunday we went to Mezin market, a small village with a picturesque church and square.  We tried snails for the first time (and last for me, I’m afraid) and stocked up on cheeses, vegetables, meat, bread and of course a sliver of nougat).

Mezin - the market
Market in Mezin

Night markets are buzzing in the Summer months – we went to the market in the main square of Sos.  There must have been a few hundred people all sitting on long tables.  The locals come with their own cutlery and crockery and set up for dinner, choosing from al the stalls around the edges of the square.  From duck, steak, veal (they like their meat), to grilled vegetables, artisan breads, cheese plates, langoustine, Moules frites, tomatoes, onion tarts, rose wine, beer, ice cream – you can sit and feast to your heart’s content. The atmosphere is really friendly and lively and it’s lovely to see this little village come alive.

SOS night market
Sos night market

My favourite town was Lectoure.  One end of the high street leads to the church and a viewing platform of the valley below, the other end takes you to an old school or hospital building which is now home to the most fascinating antiques market. It is full of the most unusual, eccentricities  Eat at Cafe des Sports, an unassuming restaurant on the high street, which has delicious food, great service and excellent atmosphere.  The shops are worth visiting here too with a food hall, lots of clothes and shoe shops and small galleries.  Lectoure and the region is home to the most delicious of melons, which are found in all the surrounding markets. 

cafe des Sports Lectoure
Cafe des Sports, Lectoure
Melons of Lectoure

We had to visit Condom, of course – an attractive town with large church and 4 musketeers sculptures  – cue obligatory photos.

Condom - 4 musketeers
The 4 Musketeers at Condom

Our French visit was a fabulous reminder of the superb quality and range of French produce from cheese, sprities, wines, fruit, vegetable, bread to all the delicious sweet things (nougat, ice cream, chocolate).  For a super peaceful, relaxing holiday, a hit of city sights and a big dose of gastronomy, I’d urge anyone to visit. We certainly will again soon.

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French cheese
We loved all the cheese!

It’s wedding season!

Every year, we just love all the weddings! Yes, they’re a lot of hard work, ensuring all the food is absolutely at its best, and making sure the wedding party goes without hitch. But it’s all so worth it! Just to see how much the married couple and their family and friends enjoy their day makes us want to keep on doing it!

We’ve catered for weddings in various venues in and around Bristol, like St George’s Hall, Circomedia and Walton Castle as well as in church halls, marquees in gardens and fields and in the middle of the countryside outside the city.

Each wedding has been so different, with the married couple choosing a variety of themes and styles, all of which are just gorgeous. Canapes are super popular as well as our wedding feasts, which consist of glorious seasonal produce, meats, cheeses, breads all piled high on platters and in beautiful bowls, all to be shared between happy guests.

Is there a theme in common? Whilst they are all totally original, we are noticing that couples want more local, more sustainable produce (which is exactly what we do) with the wonderful ingredients speaking for themselves without being too fussy. Natural and simple seem to be the order of the day.

Weddings are definitely less formal, with grooms wearing a comfortable suit, often in colours outside of the regular black and white. Flowers are more natural and less formal and the whole feel is more laid back and one of celebration rather than tradition or form.

salads for wedding sharing feasts

It is possible, of course, that we are attracting the more informal, natural weddings as that is what we are all about. We’ve been providing feasts and sharing platters for weddings since we started back in 2002, so we’ve had a bit of practise!

And cakes – yes, we mustn’t forget the cakes! The days of iced fruit cake have pretty much gone, with couples opting for sponges, iced in a more abstract style, or naked, decorated with fruit and flowers. We’ve also seen an increase in couples wanting wedding cheese towers as they realise that guests really love to tuck into some magnificent artisan cheese at the end of the day.

Cheese for weddings

Autumn/ Winter cookery classes 2019

Forgive us for the delay – we have now published our new Autumn Winter cookery school timetable (see below) . Alexis has created a series of classes that follow popular themes, but feature all different dishes, so if you’ve been before and loved it, you can come back and learn more!

We get a lot of people coming back as it’s a lovely way to spend an evening and learn lots from a professional chef. Cookery classes suit all levels of cook, from beginner to knowledgeable as the classes are small (never more than 10) and Alexis and her helpers are brilliant at giving lots of individual attention. Don’t be intimidated if you are a bit of a novice as the atmosphere is lovely and friendly.

This season we are offering a vegan class which is also gluten free and dairy free as we know that it’s great to be able to offer a range of creative dishes that suit everyone including those with dietary preferences.

The Middle Eastern classes are always super popular as we all love the fragrance and flavours, as well as the Italian classes, of course!

IF you’re giving a class as a gift and not sure which to pick, you can buy a gift voucher and let them choose. Click here for cookery class vouchers.

2019 Timetable – book click on the title.

Creative vegan &  gluten free Oct 2nd 6-9pm £95

King oyster mushroom scallops with parsley and walnut pesto
Tempeh tacos with raw cashew queso
Butternut squash lasagna
‘Chocolate’ brownies

L’Otonno in Italia – Autumnal Italian  Oct 23 6-9pm £95

Gnocchi with chestnuts and sage brown butter
Porcini bruschetta
Pumpkin pansotti
White truffle and taleggio arancini
Fig, candied walnut and winter leaf salad

Thai favourites Nov 6th 6-9pm £95

Som Tam Thai – Papaya Salad
Plaa Phao Kleua w/ Naam Jim Seafood – Salt crusted fish with spicy, tart dipping sauce
Phat Khanaeng – Stir fried brussel sprouts
Muu – Sateh – Pork Satay
Phat Thai – Prawn & tofu pad thai

Cook Lebanese Nov 20th 6-9pm £95

Fatayer with butternut squash & feta
Grilled Quail with rose & pistachio sauce
Barley, roast celeriac, grape & sumac salad
Fried aubergine with pomegranate molasses & walnuts

Asian Inspired Eats December 4th 6-9pm £95

Gyoza with prawn & lemongrass
Miso & honey glazed aubergine
Tempura vegetables
Spicy Sichuan Chicken peanut & spring onion noodles
Pickled shiitake mushrooms

Creative canapes for Christmas  Dec 11th 6-9pm £95

Crispy Duck chinese pancakes
Butternut squash, ricotta & spinach empanadillas
Gremolata prawn & chorizo skewer
Scallops in pancetta with rosemary
Babaganoush, pomegranate in red chicory
Leek and parmesan filo tartlets

Chocolate tasting Sat 29th June 10.30-12pm

TASTING ALERT! We have the boys from Broma chocolate sauces coming this coming Saturday 29th June from 10.30 t0 12pm.

These chocolate sauces are SO delicious, locally made, suitable for vegans and contain NO refined sugars. Not just a regular chocolate sauce! There are loads of ways of serving it, including pouring over your porridge, mixing with milk for a milkshake or just pour of your favourite ice cream.

Made in Bristol by two locals, we think it’s definitely worth trying! Come and visit us on Saturday and taste some!

vegan chocolate sauce made in Bristol
board showing our next tasting

Get your five a day from the deli counter

Candied beetroot with sliced apple, green beans with cherry tomatoes in a seeded sherry vinaigrette, spanakopita, squash and spinach frittata, falafels, celeriac, cabbage, green veg slaw, Mediterranean veg cous cous – all these beauties and others show up in our deli counter every day.

There’s always something for vegans and vegetarians and we do our best to have something gluten free or nut free to make sure that everyone is catered for.

Madoc our chef upstairs is so imaginative, making all these dishes from scratch every day.

Come in an get a pot of salad and a little savoury treat (or a sweet one – there’s LOADS of amazing cake!). Bring in your own pot if you’d like to help us cut down on packaging.

Do spead the word as there are very few places like us who make this sort of food and we think everyone should know about it!

Coffee’s good for the soil!

As you can imagine, as we serve up a lot of coffee in the deli and cafe as well as takeaway, we have a lot of used coffee grounds left over. We are constantly thinking about how to reduce the amount of stuff we send to landfill and so we make sure these coffee grounds are put to good use.

We put our used coffee grounds into the compost heap. Coffee grounds are high in potassium and nitrogen and the high carbon content helps feed the soil. Some say that they repel slugs and snails, but we’re not totally convinced about that!

What about putting them directly onto the soil? There are lots of conflicting opinions on this as some say the caffeine can inhibit plant growth and it can suppress the amount of water in the soil. We decided not to take the risk and just throw it into the compost heap along with other leaves, grass cuttings and fruit / veg peelings.

If you’d like to have some of our coffee grounds, or have any tips on composting them, get in touch

The giant Easter egg is back!

We raffle a giant Easter egg from Italy every year to raise money for charity. Our staff have chosen Off the Record Bristol this year, which is a mental health movement for and by 11-25 year olds. It’s an incredible service offering one to one therapy and resilience labs, amongst many other amazing things for young people in the city.

You can read more about Off the Record Bristol here.

The deli is always a delight to see at Easter with eggs from local producers as well as from stunning eggs from Italy. One of our customers’ favourites this year is the Chococo dinosaur egg from the Jurassic Coast, which is made from the most delicious chocolate and has hidden chocolate dinosaurs in the egg shell. We also love Charbonnel et Walker’s chocolate Peter Rabbits – so cute!

We are hoping to raise lots for Off the Record, and would love you to buy a ticket and help us. Tickets are available at the deli on Alma Rd, Clifton and cost £1 each.

Chococo eggs in cardboard tray
Charbonnel et walker do Peter rabbits for easter

Nutcessity spreads – free tasting

This coming Saturday the 16th of March, between 11 and 2pm, the guys from Nutcessity will be in the deli offering a chance to taste some of their delectable nut spreads.

Nutcessity spreads are made from all sorts of nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts) but not peanuts. Mike who makes the spreads insists on adding no sugar or oils and uses all sorts of brilliant ingredients to flavour the nut spreads, like dates, ginger, pumpkins seeds, cinnamon, coffee, cocoa to make a range of imaginatively combined flavours such as gingerbread and almond, mocha and hazelnut, date and walnut.

Mike has an allergy to peanuts and wanted to create a healthy nut spread that didn’t contain the allergen. We think he’s done an amazing job!

The spreads are super healthy and good for us (as well as being good for the planet as Mike insists on running his business as sustainably as possible).

IF we’re feeling naughty, we spread the nut butter with a layer of gianduja chocolate spread. It’s a flavour explosion!

Hopefully, we’ve persuaded you to pop into the deli this Saturday to try out some of his beautiful spreads!

You can read more about Nutcessity here.

We went to Sicily and ate a lot.

A visit to Sicily after Christmas

Etna from air

The BBC online headline, sent to me by a friend on the morning of our flight meant we nearly didn’t go. Etna had erupted and there had been an earthquake.  Catania airport had closed the previous day.  After some twitter research and finding the airport was open again, we decided to risk it.

Leaving Bristol behind us, the flight was full. As we approached Catania, we looked out the window and saw a red and orange sky behind smoke billowing from an angry Etna. An incredible sight!

Our taxi dropped us off at BAD hotel (Bed and design!).  We felt unsure as the taxi left and we looked down a dark street, lit only by the opening to a dingy bar and amusement arcade.  A drunk man was shouting and telling cars where to park. We rang the buzzer and there was no answer. We started wondering if this was a good place to stay, after all.  After some searching, we found a phone number and rang Alessandro the owner who arrived ten minutes later.  Not really a hotel, more an eccentric airbnb, it was very quirkily decorated with fish wallpaper and 50s furniture.  At 45 Euros per room per night, it was pretty good value.

Sicilian fish market

The next morning Simon and I got up early to explore.  At the bottom of the street were stone arches into a bustling fish market. Properly bustling.  Full of men (hardly saw any women) buying and selling, de-boning and preparing glistening fish and seafood.  Enormous swordfish, tuna, silver sardines, squid, cockles, clams.  All sorts of creatures on ice next to mountains of oranges and lemons.  Beyond the market was the town square – from gritty fish market that could have been from a Dickens film to elegant Baroque architecture.  We stopped in a tiny bar next to the market for a cappuccino and pastry, standing alongside delivery drivers, postman and parking warden downing their morning espresso, before grabbing a ‘spremuta’ – fresh orange juice pressed on demand to take back to the boys.

Catania was a lovely surprise – a proper Italian / Sicilian city full of locals going about their business.  One street, Strada di Santa Filomena, is filled with restaurants and a good place to go for food and atmosphere.  We ate pizza here and the next night went to a small trattoria a little more off the beaten track where we ate perfectly al dente pasta – with squid ink, seafood and fresh pesto (but not all together).  Rosso d’Etna, the local red, is superb and so reasonably priced. The restaurant was full and the sole waiter rushed around tirelessly while the boss sat at the desk near the entrance taking payment and chatting to locals.

We went with a guide up Etna – an hour or so drive and then an hour’s walk.  We weren’t able to go to the top due to the recent eruption, but got close to the now hardened and blackened fresh lava.  Blue skies and warm sunshine made it all so beautiful and also, the fact there were hardly any other walkers or tourists around. Rosario took us for a speciality Sicilian snack of deep fried pizza folded in half over melted cheese, sausage, ham.  Sam ate his enthusiastically.  The rest of us ate a polite amount.

We stayed in two other towns – Syracusa and Ragusa and from these bases we visited others. Many of the towns have an older and newer part.  Syracusa’s old town is called Ortygia and is a perfect Baroque town with glorious and immaculate cathedral and square as well as seafront and gardens.  A lovely, lovely place.

Good food is plentiful.  One memorable lunch was round the corner from our hotel run by a young woman who owned the restaurant and bar nextdoor.  I ate spaghetti with tuna bottarga (grated dried tuna eggs) one of my absolutely favourites. We stayed at Villa della Giudecca in the old Jewish Quarter.  One of the best suppers we had overall was in Hotel Gutkowski  on the seafront. We enjoyed it so much, Simon insisted on going to speak to the chef who spoke no English and with Simon’s pretty much non existent Italian it was an interesting exchange. The sentiment was clear and the chef looked delighted!

Spaghetti bottarga

Ortigia is beautiful and its market is superb, along with many great delis – we stopped for a local prosciutto plate at Fratelli Burgio on our way to catch the little electric bus up to Teatro Greco – a beautiful 5th century theatre built into the Sicilian hillside.

Driving on to Ragusa, we stopped on the coast in Marzamemme.  This tiny village feels hardly lived in, but comes alive on a Sunday lunchtime – in the Winter with visiting Sicilians and in the Summer, with tourists, I’m sure. We had lunch on the square – a smart, popular eatery with slightly snooty staff.  The food was good, especially the local favourite, raw red prawns. It was seriously lovely sitting in the warm sunshine on this pretty square – definitely served to lift the spirits and charge the batteries for a British January and February.

Ragusa, like many other Sicialan Baroque towns, has a modern part ‘superiore’ in this case, and an older part , Ragusa Ibla.  There is also an old part of the new part.  We were staying in Villa Boscarino in Ragusa Superiore.  We hadn’t worked out the location before going and in hindsight may have found it better to stay in Ragusa Ibla, although getting in and out of Ragusa to visit other towns was easier from here and observing a few cars driving around the narrow streets of Ibla, it could have been a good thing we didn’t venture there with a hire car.

The hotel was in a renovated villa with its own internal chapel where we had breakfast.  This Baroque beauty is in the centre of more recently built flats, on the top of the hill, so not particularly picturesque, although they have planted lots of trees and climbers and the back garden with jacuzzi looks very attractive.  The staff here were super helpful, especially Enrico who had worked at Corn Street’s San Carlo for 6 months some years ago and so knew Bristol well.

Sea food, pasta, blood orangesThe food of SIcily

We spent New Year’s Eve in Ragusa.  Most restaurants seemed to be charging high prices for the evening and set menus.  We opted for Terrazza dell’Orologio in Ragusa Ibla.  We made the boys walk there (40 mins down hill) and back (40 minutes uphill with 350 steps).

The restaurant had all its lights on full in an empty room filled with laid up  tables.  We were on time and there was one table of a couple with their daughter who’d come early.  Nothing then happened for an hour.  The waiting staff buzzed around arranging seating plans.  The owner, and older, shorter man with a serious look came and shook our hands. I think we were given a bottle of water.  Then the others started arriving .  Our food was served nearly two hours after we had arrived.  It was all pretty amusing and we ate so much food from raw red prawns mashed into a taramasalata type paste (not entirely sure about that) , anchovies, calamares, bruschetta with a bright green paste (not entirely sure what it was), seafood risotto and lasagne, a fish grill of sword fish, calamares, fennel and orange salad.  At ten to midnight, the owner came to inform us we should follow him to the terrace.  We dutifully followed him to a terrace facing Ibla town with its little houses cut into the hillside all lit up.  The countdown started followed by our own fireworks and a glass of prosecco (after most of it was sprayed all over the terrace much to everyone’s delight).

If you’re going to Ragusa, we’d also recommend I Banchi.  It’s a deli / restaurant owned by a Michelin starred chef, Ciccio Sultano (his ‘proper’ restaurant is also in Ragusa).  The interior is imaginatively decorated with contemporary art (and no bright lights here, thankfully).  Sicilian food has been given a contemporary twist.  Some of it works beautifully, other bits less so, but we did love the experience. We took some of their pastries and pizzas back to the hotel and they got a definite thumbs up.

Noto was another hill top town that is definitely worth visiting with lots of great food places, including a lovely bar we came across after lunch where we had coffee and cake.  We wish we’d eaten there!

Modica was also lovely. It is famous for its chocolate which has a very distinctive texture.  They work the chocolate cold so that the sugar doesn’t melt, giving it a crunch.  There are many chocolate shops here and we visited a couple – one by the church above the town next door to duomo di San Giorgio, called Sabadi, which is the hip, contemporary one, with chocolates flavoured with herbs, spices, fruits and very funky packaging – worth a look on their website.

Bonaiuto is an old fashioned shop in the old town with chocolate-making kitchens behind.  You can order a freshly filled giant cannoli or hot chocolate and taste a wide range of chocolate here and I imagine it is a popular place in high season.

On our way back to Catania airport, we stopped by chance in Lentini looking for lunch.  We stumbled across Navarria, just next to the main square.  A busy little bar with tables and a huge counter full of the most mouthwatering pasta dishes, bakes, risottos and roast vegetables.  The boys got very excited indeed about the range of pastas and sauces and I got excited about the equally huge counter full of bitesized sweet things – meringues, biscuits, chocolate dipped candied fruit, mini donuts, viennese swirls.  The incredibly patient waiter took our order at the counter as we struggled to narrow down our lunch to a couple of items we could actually eat rather than the tens of items our eyes would have liked.

This place is a real gem and clearly popular with locals as many, young and old popped in, leaving with beautifully blue and white paper wrapped takeaway dishes and cakes. A lovely way to end our Sicilian visit.

We absolutely loved this part of Sicily.  Just after Christmas was a great time to go as the weather was warm (17 degrees) and the skies were a piercing blue.  There were very few tourists around which made it all the more pleasant.

The food was probably the best food we’d had in Italy – it was all consistently good.  Their seafood is superb, we loved the orange, fennel, black olive and red onion salads that accompanied many meals, the pasta was excellent , the Pachino tomatoes extra special (apparently because this part of Europe gets the most daylight) and the red wine of Etna is now a firm favourite.  Prices were very reasonable and we’d definitely like to go again soon, please!

A trip up Etna

If you’re interested in Sicilian food, Papadeli runs cookery classes – some of which cover Sicilian dishes. You can see our timetable here.