In a recent post (See “In My Mind, I’m Already There”), I created a short wish list of hotels and destinations–places I wanted to visit in the near future. On that list were Grand Hotel Timeo and Villa Sant’Andrea in Taormina, Sicily, two Orient-Express properties whose websites alone made me weak in the knees.
Well, I did it. I managed to get myself to Sicily and stay at these two hotels, and all I can say is “wow.” Beautiful, gorgeous, and stunning are understatements. The settings were picture-perfect: drop-dead ocean views, rose-filled gardens, dramatically crashing waves, and the trail of smoke escaping from the peak of an active volcano.
Then there were the rooms: classically elegant, spacious, impeccably designed masterpieces, with private balconies on which I sat, drank cappuccino, and admired the view.
But, if I were forced to describe and relive only one thing, I think it would have to be the food. Indeed, the food of Sicily was enough to make me stay there forever, forgetting all about life in…wait, where do I live? Oh right, NY. New York makes good food. Sicily LIVES good food. Some meals were so good, I leaned back, sighed, touched my cheek, and thought “is this a tear of joy?”.
At Villa Sant’Andrea and Grand Hotel Timeo, the food was as beautiful as the setting, as delicious as the waiters serving it (sorry, but I do love Italian men), and perhaps the best hotel food I’ve ever experienced. It began and ended at the hotels. I’d feast for breakfast, make my way out into the city to feast some more, and then come back to home sweet home, where pasta alla “Norma”, insanely good cannoli’s, and bucket-loads of fresh mozzarella were waiting for me.
It was also a bit of a joke during the trip that I was a cannoli addict–I said if I went missing, my friends would no doubt find me on the bathroom floor, rings of powdered sugar around my mouth and nose, shaking and begging for one more hit of that sweet, sweet ricotta. I taste-tested several cannoli’s–one in the small town of Savoca, where a scene of “The Godfather” was filmed; one at a restaurant in Taormina; one at a bakery in Taormina; and four (yes, four) at Grand Hotel Timeo. The winner was no doubt Grand Hotel Timeo, but I’d be happy to do it all over again and see if the results change.
So, there you have it: I had a love affair with Sicilian food. Loaves and loaves of thick, crusty bread; pounds of fine, earthy olive oil; pasta like it was going out of style; cheese like it was my last chance to ever eat cheese; enough seafood to make marine biologists slightly worried; and enough pastries to put me into diabetic shock. It was a beautiful affair, one I am still feeling each and every day, long since leaving….particularly because I can’t close my jeans.