Tuesday, 20 August 2013

I Left My Honey in Zafferana (Fitness Sicilia Series)

When I was a little girl, my maternal grandmother fed me honey fresh from the beehive. She didn't own the beehive for commercial purposes, but the bees that took up residence in one corner of her hut did. Sometimes, she would hand the honey to me and my cousins, still dripping from a piece of the beehive. It was warm and very sweet to the taste, the best way to eat it was to mix it with water naturally kept cool in an earthenware tap, and calamondin or kalamansi, a citrus fruit indigenous to the Philippines, which grew in abundance in her backyard.

A couple of weeks ago in Sicily, my Zumba group's tour guide took us to Zafferana, a Catanian municipality renowned for producing 20% of Italy's honey, or miele. I'm not sure if I heard Fabio, the tour guide, correctly, but whether it's indeed 20% more or less, the fact that the comune holds a honey festival in October, marks how such an important commodity it is for Zafferana.

I have substituted honey--preferably raw--for sugar, so I didn't need to be convinced to go for honey tasting. The part that took a great deal of convincing was deciding which varities to take home. But before visiting Oro d'Etna for the honey-tasting experience, we took off to Zafferana's town square one warm night in Viagrande where our villa was. As a summer resort, Zafferana's night temperature was cooler and just perfect to sit down with friends for an ice-cold birra, a glass of wine, and a tub of gelato. A jazz band played in the backgound while we wandered around.

Zafferana's old town main square overlooking the sea. It would've been lovely to see this at sunset.

Zafferana parish church that sits cheek by jowl with the old town square

One of the main streets in Zafferana that leads to the main square. The festival arches reminded me of barrio fiesta in the Philippines where similar arches are installed along with buntings.

Finally, at the Oro d'Etna shop where we had our fill of honey, olive oil, olives, antipasti, wines...and soap--yes, soap!

Take your pick. L-R back row: chestnut honey, eucalyptus honey, honeydew honey (that's double the honey), yarrow honey, wildflower honey, French honeysuckle honey, lemon honey, orange honey; L-R front row: honey cream with pistachio, honey cream with hazelnut, honey cream with melon, honey cream with strawberry, and honey cream with forest fruit.
The above roll call of honey variants made me smile as it reminded me of that scene in the movie 'Forrest Gump' where Forrest's friend Bubba recited a litany of ways to cook shrimps.

Honey which? Honey what?

Have some olives.....

Or croutons soaked in various types of olive oil on offer....

Artichokes, capers. sweet garlic. among others. All that's missing was a kitchen.

Mixes and Spices

Pre-packed pesto mixes, olive oil and condiments to take away.

I regret not purchasing at least a jar of pesto. I never imagined that choosing a bottle of olive oil was difficult. But it was.

One of the ladies took home a bottle of almond wine for her baking. I settled for the same white which we've been having at the villa for days.

Looking up grapes at Oro d'Etna's front garden, to be bottled one day...

And live bees! I was traumatised as a child from a bee sting so I was scared to get closer.  I didn't want my holiday to end as if I entered and lost a boxing match.

My Oro d'Etna haul from left to right: honey soap good enough to eat, Sicilian white wine, garlic extra virgin olive oil, regular olive oil, onion extra virgin olive oil, melon honey, and lemon honey

Strada Mareneve (sea to snow) is that long stretch of road in Sicily that takes you from the sea to the mountain. For this trip, my friends and I have climbed Mt. Etna, visited Zafferana and Milo, and enjoyed Sicilian gustatory delights along the way. Taormina and the sea are calling and we get to fluff our beach towels next time.

Here's wishing for summer to outstay its welcome !

You can find Oro d'Etna here. I was told they deliver outside Italy. Better yet, pop in if you ever find yourself in Catania. 


  1. sicilian pesto ain't all that so I dont think you missed out frankly. But I hope you bought everything else?! I thini Sicilian food is my favourite out of all the Italian regions. That honey must have been stunning. PS honey soap is excellent for the skin and if i do use soap the only type i use!x

    1. Bought the rest I thought would be nice and they are actually. Everything's just so fresh in Sicily, maybe that's why you find it the best in the whole of Italy. Read on the shops's website that honey cream ca be used as a toast spread or accopmaniment with certain cheese varieties. I'll try the soap soon. Might work for my spots. If the shipping price's good, I'll order from the website x

  2. What a wonderful, evocative post. I want to go there, lol! x

  3. I find the smell of honey quite addictive. I visit Italy every year, but I've never been to Sicily - maybe next year, it looks beautiful.

    1. Honey's like a potion isn't it? Let your paws touch down in Sicily next year SK! x

  4. One of the things I love about Italy is the way everyone wanders around in the evening just enjoying the warm weather and the atmosphere. The other thing I love of course is the food. This must have been the freshest olive oil and like you I would have spent quite a while deciding just what to bring home especially with so many varieties of honey. The soap sounds wonderful too.

    1. I noticed the same miss b. Older men are usually out in the town park or cafe when the sun's not as hot and they have coffee and chat with friends. I had a difficult time deciding what to bring home while considering my baggage limit. I think I'll use the soap when it's colder. Might do wonders for dry skin because of the radiator :)

  5. Italy seems to be the epitomy of good European living, my sister swears by it everytime she goes there. I have yet to visit, but would love to enjoy this amazing festival and visit Zafferana. Honey is one of the only things I can think of food-wise that just never spoils or expires. /xx Madison

    1. I think anywhere sunny in Europe outside London is an epitome of good European living :) I sometimes wish that I can enjoy more of that lifestyle at my age now, but then what will I look forward to when I'm older?
      Saving the honey cream for winter. Need to find the best bread to toast for that.
      Have a lovely weekend Madison and thanks for dropping by xx


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