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What should I bring back from Sicily?

I will be traveling all over Sicily next week and I'm bringing an empty suitcase. I'm definitly going to bring back some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and hard cheeses. What else would you recommend?

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    1. re: nose_food

      can I bring those back or will I get arrested by customs?? :)

      1. re: thunderbug84

        I don't think so--no fresh produce of any kind. But: pistachios, jars of salted capers from Pantelleria, sea salt from Trapani, and if it's available in a closed commerical container, estratto (or stratu), the sun-dried tomato preserve that is like a super-tomato paste. Unless you're passionate about it, I'd save the toruble and skip the balsamic for more regional delights.

        1. re: obob96

          Read Mary Taylor Simeti's book about Sicily called "On Persephone's Island."
          It's all about the foods and seasons and festivals. Simeti is a good writer.
          She also wrote another book called "Pomp and Sustenance."

    2. You might be able to bring back vacuum packed bottarga - not sure though.

      1. check out the Customs thread - tons of info about what's legal
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/353902

        I'd forget about the blood oranges, or rather just enjoy them while you're there
        and enjoy the ones grown in california when you're back

        I wonder if there's any salumi that's legal to bring back - that's something that is wildly different and wonderful in Italy.

        BRING BUBBLE WRAP!
        That's what I fill my empty travel suitcase with, for returning jars and pottery

        1. definitely bring back the amazing sicilian cinnamon digestivo, called "canella liquore" (a lovely afterdinner touch). also, you MUST bring back chocolate from modica. i'm sure they sell it all over sicily (not just in modica).make sure to try the vanilla, and cinnamon chocolate bars. both of these things are legal to import. you CAN get away with bringing back vacuum packed cheeses (some stores will be able to do this for you...ask for the cheese "sotto vuoto" ). ragusano le quattro faccie is a very interesting cheese.

          1. bottarga, olive oil, wine, grappa, marsala, stratu, capers, salt, salumi, bresaola, almonds, pistachios (if you can find them and they aren't ridiculously expensive). Nut pastes are good, torrone if you can find a good one. Cheese. I love Sicily and am jealous because I'm not going back until the Autumn! I wouldn't bother with the Modica chocolate - except as gifts - but then I don't particularly like it. If you don't know, it is cold worked and it is very interesting and good for a taster but just not to my taste!

            Please let us know if you find any gems of shops full of tasty things, I can no doubt find the details of shops I particularly like in Palermo and Siracusa if you'd like.

            4 Replies
            1. re: ali patts

              Thank you! We are going to Siracusa on one of our last days of the trip so it would be great to buy stuff there. If you can dig up information on some of your favorite shops, I'd really appreciate it!

              I'm really going to hit many cities in Sicily (here is my itinerary: http://www.umass.edu/journal/sicilypr...) so if people have any suggestions for specific places, I'm all ears! Luckily, I'm one of the "visiting adults" on the trip, so I'm free to explore to my heart's content. All ideas are greatly appreciated. Thank you!

              1. re: thunderbug84

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/371453 this thread has my Taormina details on it - do buy torrone there.

                I will bring my book with details of Palermo (although it looks like you won't have time) and Siracusa tomorrow an post again.

                I'd love to hear of any finds as I try to make it to Sicily twice a year. Otherwise, don't expect to shop at Segesta - just take a camera and lots of film! And please post on Gangivecchio as I was thinking of detouring there in the autumn.

                1. re: ali patts

                  I will definitly post when I get back! Thanks for the tips!

                  1. re: ali patts

                    As for Gangivecchio, its really an incredible Abbey. I do recommend going there if only for the sights (especially if its sunny). As for the meal, I wasnt incredibly impressed, but I wasnt dissapointed. It was good, but not quite what I expected. The antipastas were very good, but everything was fried in dough so it was a little heavy to start with. The pasta dish, lentils and small pasta, was very good and interesting. I really liked the combination and having lentils was a real treat! Next we had a potato and lamb stew. The lamb was delicious and tender, but the potatos were over cooked. As for dessert, we had more fried dough and cannoli's which were both wonderful. So, I guess I would suggest that if you are thinking of going there, you should know that you will have a good meal, but it may not be a "life changing" meal. However, the Abbey is so beautiful that it would be hard not to enjoy the experience.

              2. In Palermo, I liked Cibus (lunched there) which has a mini supermarket attached that had a large wine selection, it also had good salami and a wide range of cuba venchi chocolates, if you type cibus in to the search my old posts should come up as I don't remember the address and know I did post it before. Seems like one of the posts doesn't come up. Via emerico amari 64. There was an artisan deli place further down via roma on a road off the other side that I can't find details for - it may have been via mazzini. It was beautiful had bresaola and such from half a dozen different animals, lots of salumi and cheese - it blew my mind to the point where I couldn't buy anything!

                In Siracusa (on Ortygia) my scribble mentions the casa del pesce at via emanuele de benedictus 9. I have no memory of this place whatsoever but highly recommend the fratelli burgio's which is on the corner of that same road (which has Ortygia's market on it) at the piazza (sea) end. The capers they sell are divine, as was the salami with bronte pistachios that you aren't allowed to take back to the US (if I understand correctly pork is a no go). But their place is a lovely deli with a good sicilian cheese selection and they sell bread rools too so you could get them to fill you one! There are a number of stall holders on the market that sell pre-made and packaged marzipan - it is good and some came home with me!

                1. This is reaching you too late, but here's a suggestion in addition to all the excellent other ones: Borgo La Torre red orange marmalade (and their other flavors too). Since you can't bring home the actual tarocchi oranges (the best of the large category of blood oranges), this marmalade is the next best thing.

                    1. Well, I went to Sicily and it was wonderful! Thank you for all of your suggestions. I ended up bringing back cheese (parm and pecorino), estratto (unforunately, I couldnt find any of the homemade stuff in jars so I had to go with a tube... we'll see how it is), bottarga, over 4 litres of olive oil :), lemon honey from Etna, orange-cello (thats what I've been calling it... its the same as limoncello, but with oranges), marzipan, modida chocolate and sea salt. I tried the bresaola and it was wonderful... I wish I could have brought some salami home!! It was also wonderful to be able to have fresh buffalo mozzerela from Campania in the supermarkets... I live for that stuff. Even though I didnt bring back everything that you all suggested, I actually was able to try everything that people listed! It was a wonderful experience! Thank you again!

                      1. Marzipan, marzipan, marzipan, marzipan.