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Posts Tagged ‘Porto Turistico Marina di Ragusa’

HOMECOMING: SPRING IN SICILY

March 22nd, 2012 No comments

The old saying about March arriving like a lion and leaving like a lamb is certainly true in Sicily.  Kent spent the first two weeks of March in howling wind, pouring rain and temps in the 50’s at night. 

Every boat in the marina is heeling in the 50 Kt. wind. . .

as horizontal rain pelted the boat.

The Saturday before I arrived on March 15th saw the worst that Sicilian weather has to offer, with 50 kt. Sirocco winds filled with Sahara sand that stung your eyes and deposited red dust on every surface in the marina.  Coupled with driving rain that was reported coming sideways, everyone in the marina, including Kent and Jolie, hunkered down waiting for the sky to clear.

Once the rain stopped Destiny was covered with red Sahara sand.

Several cruisers who arrived during that terrible weather spent 8 hours getting from Catania Airport (normally a 1 ½ hour drive).   Bridges washed out and roads were impassable due to dirt and rocks washing off hillsides and covering roads.  Nearly a week later when I arrived, the landslides and uprooted trees were still evident and detours (or “diversions” in Italian) made the trip from airport to marina longer than usual.

On March 15th  a glorious, sunny day with light winds and high wispy clouds greets me in Catania.  The temperature was a pleasant 65 F. and although I’m jet-lagged having been up for about 24 hours at that point, I’m glad to be back.   Thankfully, the “lion’s roar” has been replaced with the sounds of birds chirping.  Kent and Jolie arrive in a rental car to take me and 75 lbs. of baggage (including a bottle of duty free Mount Gay rum) back to Destiny.

As we made our way to Marina di Ragusa, Mt. Etna’s snow encrusted slopes against the milky blue sky contrasted with a profusion of yellow wild flowers along the roadside.  The fields are a green patchwork of newly sprouted crops stretching as far as the eye can see.  The countryside is soaking up the welcome sunshine and is bursting with life.  As for me I am bursting with adrenalin.

Mt. Etna is snow covered but smoking

Arriving at the marina is a homecoming.  Familiar faces greet me with “welcome back”.  Destiny is even better than I left her.  Kent has had time to put everything back in order before my arrival, despite some frustration in needing parts to finish some necessary maintenance.

Kent is ready to get back to work now that the parts have arrived.

As I arrive, we are saying goodbye to friends leaving the marina in a couple of days.  Bill and Jean on Soliel San Fins are off to Naples to put their boat on a ship to the USA, a reverse of our trip.  I stay awake for some 36 hours but crash as the sun sets over the marina.

Sunset, March 15th. . .bedtime!

It’s good to be home.  The “Med adventure” continues.

THANKSGIVING. . .SICILIAN STYLE

November 26th, 2011 1 comment

Celebrating a uniquely American holiday, like Thanksgiving, abroad is never the same as being home for the holiday.  No Thanksgiving Day Parade to watch on TV or hometown high school football rivalries to settle. In fact, no football at all—thankfully–sorry I couldn’t resist.

Thanksgiving in a foreign country requires more pre-planning that we are accustomed to in the States.  Not only don’t they have Butterball turkeys, they don’t sell turkeys in supermarkets, except for an occasional breast. Whole turkeys come from turkey farms, and the one we enjoyed was still gobbling two days before Kent said “grace” over it.

Kent and Bill, a Canadian cruiser who is married to an American, headed the effort to find our turkey and then find a place to cook it.  Galley ovens are not designed to accommodate whole turkeys.  We hoped to gather a sizeable group to share this special meal and locating a restaurant in Marina di Ragusa that would be willing to roast a whole turkey was the next challenge. 

As we walked to the seaside restaurant for dinner, we were thankful that it hadn't rained.

On the seafront promenade at Marina di Ragusa there is a lovely restaurant, Shosholoza, with a private dining room and a chef that was up to the challenge of making a traditional American Thanksgiving meal.  Bill put together a proposed menu with the help of Google translate and he and Kent negotiated all the details.  The chef asked us to provide some recipes for stuffing and selected the one with prosciutto and Italian sausage for our bird. 

The elegant dining room at Shosholoza included model ships. . .making us feel at home.

We had expected a group of about 20 and specified two birds of 7 kilos each, thinking that smaller birds would be more tender than one large bird for a group that size.  It turns out that turkeys are eaten in Sicily primarily at Christmas and the birds available now were very large or too small.  Our chef selected a 17 kilo bird (just under 40 lbs.) straight from the farm to our dining table—and it was without a doubt the most succulent turkey we have ever eaten.  The chef told us he wasn’t sure the bird would fit in his oven and his contingency plan included using a larger oven at the local church–it did fit, but just barely. 

We had never seen such a big turkey!

Our multi-course Thanksgiving extravaganza started with prosecco toasts in the restaurant bar/lounge.  

We had free access to the kitchen to see how the dinner was progressing and to admire the bird.  The only thing the chef needed some help with was the turkey gravy, but he understood “roux” and the gravy was excellent. 

Kent consults with the chef on making turkey gravy. . .

while I checked out the mashed potatoes.

After starters of pumpkin soup and ravioli with tomato sauce, Kent gave a non-denominational “grace” that included some historical references to the first Thanksgiving and then it was time to carve turkey.

The master carver checks his equipment. . .

and finally the bird arrives. . .

C
but the bird was so big it required dual carvers.

Click here for U-Tube link of turkey carving http://youtu.be/VZlDAk2s_Us

The only disappointment was the cranberry sauce—there wasn’t any.  Well, there was sauce, but it was blueberry sauce—it appears that there is no word in the Italian language for cranberry and Google translate used the next best thing which was “blueberry”. 

Roasted turkey stuffed with proscuitto & Italian sausage, with mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, carrots, green beans & roasted pumpkin.

It wasn’t a total loss, however, as the faux cranberry sauce was excellent on the ricotta pie for dessert—another Sicilian twist for the meal.  Of course, we also had apple and pumpkin pies.

Ricotta pie with blueberry sauce and whipped cream in a can. . .oh boy, oh boy.

All in all, this was a memorable Thanksgiving, made all the more so because of the wonderful friends we shared it with—our group had Americans of course, but we were outnumbered by British, Canadian, German and Irish yachties.

Our multi-national group

What is Thanksgiving without leftovers–Kent and Bill negotiated that as well.

Hot turkey sandwiches the next day.

Thanksgiving is more than turkey and stuffing.  It is a celebration of life.  .  .for which we are thankful everyday.