I haven’t been denying it to anyone: my favorite experience during a nine-day gastronomic juggernaut through South Africa was rolling into the poverty-stricken but completely joyful township of Guguletu with Cledwyn Tyler, my guide for the week, old apartheid-fighter and new best bud, to grab us a tower of freshly grilled meat at the improbably famous Mzoli’s, a humble restaurant which everyone throughout this spectacular country dreams about.
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Last week I gave you my first impressions of Pantelleria, a scruffy, soulful volcanic rock that floats in the water between Sicily and Tunisia; seven days later, I’m even more in love with the place and its exotic history than before. Most important…approximately 14 meals later…I now know a great deal about what they eat in Pantelleria, where the cuisine is referred to as pantesco in the local dialect. I suppose pantelleriano would just be too cumbersome!
Ever since I read that Pantelleria is one of the possible places where the mythological Calypso seduced the mythological Ulysses, keeping him from returning home for seven years–OK, all symbols of procrastination are near and dear to my heart!–I have been wanting to visit Pantelleria. But it’s not that I’ve been procrastinating in getting to this tiny volcanic island 65 miles southwest of Sicily…and so close to Tunisia (36 miles) it’s practically Africa! Three times over the last 15 years I have been in Sicily and attempted to go; three times my planes have been grounded by gale-force winds (well, Ulysess ended up here because his ship was wrecked!)
I am back in Porto, my fourth glorious visit in five years: half a decade of understanding the funky wackiness of northern Portuguese food, half a decade of giving myself over entirely to the unusual aesthetic of Port wine. But, more important in many ways, it has been half a decade of watching one of the world’s greatest luxury hotels come into existence (I toured the construction site), and then into its own (I’ve now stayed three times). It is a place to which I will forever wish to return.
8/27/2012 – 9/2/2012
I’m heading out!
My summer concludes with a dazzling European jaunt: northern Portugal, then the island of Pantelleria, just off the coast of Sicily. There will be Port, seafood and capers galore! I hope to tell you all about it soon, and I hope from the source (should I work out my internet capabilities in remote places!)