September 21, 2011
At this time of year I’m reminded of a good reason to visit Sicily: Pachino tomatoes. Unknown outside Italy and even hard to find there, Pachinos are generally small, shiny and outlandishly sweet, way too good for sauce. Cooks who know their way around tomatoes use Pachinos raw in salads.
They are grown in the hot southeastern corner of Sicily, little more than 100 miles away from North Africa. People who visit towns in the area—beautiful, Baroque Ragusa or Greek colonial Syracuse—sometimes pass Pachino fields and discover them in markets.
If you happen to be in the area, buy a bag of Pachinos, a bottle of the region’s signature Cerasuolo di Vittoria wine and some chocolate from nearby Modica, made in the ancient Aztec way, without additives. Then head to the coast for some intense Sicily in the form of a picnic amid the salt marshes at Vendicari Nature Reserve. It will be hot and messy, but go ahead. Drink from the bottle, lap up the melted chocolate, let Pachino nectar dribble down your chin.
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