Monday, May 30, 2011

Planeta ... an out of the world experience in Sicily with the International Caterers Association Learning Journey

The almonds, pistachios and raisons were a delight - fresh is the first word that came to mind, the taste was pure, delicious inspiring and complimentary to the Planeta wines we were tasting in the rustic romantic wine cellars  lite by flickering candles and surrounded by dusty treasures waiting to be uncorked.

Blogging and journaling are a process that don't always match the time frame of when things happened but are a reflection of what's on our minds and in our hearts.

Where in Sicily the grapes are grown for the Planeta Wines
Was recently reminiscing about last fall's fantastic delicious journey to Sicily, Naples and the Amalfi Coast and in talking about almonds and how the crops have become so polluted with pesticides and radiation, with an facebook and real life friend and organic  farmer, Hope Hilby of Firelight Farms in Orwigsburg, Pa, started looking at the photos from September's trip,  and knew it was time to share the experience with y'all.

The almonds that we nibbled on in the wine cellar of Planeta, grown on their own estates, and fresher than fresh, stand out in our minds and palates as some of the most memorable tastes of a trip with a very high bar in terms of tasting treasures.

The CuisinEtc Culinary Team  travels the world exploring the culinary  perspective in order to bring that back to our clients and to expand our understanding of global cuisines and trends.    Places like Sicily are rich in multicultural blending of cuisines and history - influence  from years of trading and conquerers .
Along the way we experienced the influence of North Africa with lesson in cooking fish "cus cus" aka cous cous from a personable expert 
and charming restauranteur, Pino Maggiore in Marsala,
where we also toured the fabulous Cantine Florio, learning by taste that not only are there wines called Marsala that are delicious digestif high above the vin ordinaire of typical marsala cooking wine, but also why the Sicilian's created Marsala when the wars with Spain cut the English off from obtaining 
the Port they had come to love from Spain and Portugal,  
delicate almond pastries from such masters as Maria  Grammatico in Erice,  
Cannolis - the most eretheral 
ever in Modico at L'Antica Dolceria Bonajuta

-the cannolis and the trip was a truly life changing experience

 It was the Arabs that brought  sugar cane to Sicily in the 9th century - changing the game as far as sweeteners went  away from the more traditional mediterannian   honey sweetened pastries to the array of   sweet treats Sicily is famous   for up until  and including  today.  No trip to Sicily is complete without experiencing a REAL cannoli .
But this post today will focus on the Planeta WInery and the   incredible hospitality, knowledge and  tastes the owner, Alessio Planeta and his family shared with us and we hope to share with you.

ICA culinary journey - wine tasting at Planeta

most tours ONLY take you to see the tanks
this one went WAY beyond and below
including the wine cellars, the kitchens, the library
and the processing centers.

Larry Levy, of Biddle Street Catering, Baltimore
+ Craig Mitchell, Mitchell's Catering, Raleigh, NC

Tom PretiJoy Wallace and Kellie  Woodward

An ICA Culinary
Learning Journey



Maccu e ricotta

Pasta con le sarde

Pancia di maialino nero dei Nebrodi e cipollotti in agrodolce

Gelato di fichi e pistachio

our executive chef Andrew Alexander-Crossan
had just finished exploring the extensive dream of an herb garden
right outside these doors that made all the caterers "green with envy"

delicious food that paired
perfectly with the Planeta wines.
thank you to our most gracious and knowledgable host, Alessio Planeta

Planeta Winery is one of the premier wine estates of Sicily, and a true fine wine empire.
Planeta has vineyards and estates all over the island of Sicily including
- the Ulmo contrada and vineyards in Sambuca di Sicilia (their first winemaking facility and beautiful ancestral family home, located on the Arancio Lake);
the Dispensa base in Menfi that we visited and
where Planeta high end olive oils are also made nearby at the Capparina mill;
the beautiful Dorilli estate in Vittoria;
the Buonivini vineyards and underground winery near the Baroque town of Noto;
and Planeta's newest estate- Sciara Nuova
in the fashionable fine wine region of volcanic Mount Etna.

Planeta also runs an  agriturismo 
hotel  in the property in Menfi beautifully named
La Foresteria

with  fourteen large rooms with private terraces, similar to a  country landowners’ home, resembling the style with their warm Mediterranean colours, which have various colours schemes and types of antique furniture, with lovely pastel tints on the walls, reds and ochres in the geometrically patterned carpets, and the yellow and the blue of the ceramics from nearby Burgio and Caltagirone.


Aziende Agricole Planeta
Contrada Dispensa, Menfi (AG)

Tel: +39 091.327965
Fax: +39 091.6124355

Winery Details

Appellations:IGT Sicilia, DOCG Cerasuolo di Vittoria
Hectares under vine: Founded:1995 first vintage
Owner:Planeta family
Winemaker:Alessio Planeta
Grape Varietals:Nero d’ Avola, Frappato, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Grecanico, Chardonnay, Fiano, Viognier, Carricante, Moscato Bianco

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