|Potato Foam Pizza|
Whilst visiting Southern Sicily we couldn't miss out on La Madia, a Michelin starred restaurant which is tucked away in Licata, a small relatively unknown fishing village. Head chef, Pino Cuttaia, Licata is home and where he grew up. Where better to open La Madia, his 2 star Michelin Restaurant.
We managed to book ourselves a table for two before flying out to Sicily, via email. The response was in Italian, but my google translate informed me we were booked in for Wednesday night! The fabulous Silva at Mandranova booked us a cab (50 euros return) as we decided me driving on Sicilian roads at night would be a whole new level of mayhem (read previous post about Sicilian driving).
Arriving in Licata, our driver jumped out to ring the door bell of the restaurant before opening my door. Small thing I know, but this blew my mind! I could really get used to a lifestyle of luxury!
As we entered we were greeted by Pino Cuttaia himself, who shook our hands and introduced us to our waiter for the evening.
We'd done some research about this restaurant before and Pino the chef, so we knew what to expect when we entered the main restaurant. The interior itself is a little lack lustre and reminds me of a bog standard commercial hotel restaurant. The lighting is slightly to bright, the traditional white table cloths are too big for the tables and are trailing on the floor (this isn't done as a creative expression) and the art and photos on the wall look like they've been bought from ikea. However get past this. It is not about the restaurant's table cloths and with food like this they can afford not to worry. This however explains for the lack of photos of the interior.
We had two waiter's for the evening whose English wasn't great but considering we spoke no Italian work fine for us. It was a bot like good cop bad cop. One waiter was incredibly serious, never broke a smile at all, the other chap seemed genuinely enthusiastic about the food and would try to describe each course into English for us. Which we would nod excitedly at even if we had no idea what he'd just said.
The menu had a choice of three set menus or the choice of the individual dishes. We decided to go for the eight course Classic menu at 80 euros each.
Bread basket: 7 different kinds of warm bread (I had a loaf with figs, pistachios and almonds and a square piece of a flat bread with onions (a specialty of Palermo)
As predicted these were delicious! Unfortunately when the waiter saw we'd eaten the majority he swapped it for a whole knew basket!?
Pizzaiola : Salted Cod, smoked by pine cones with tomatoes and topped with potato foam.
What looks like melted mozzarella is actually potato mousse. The crust was only a very crispy very thin round of dough, and underneath the foam was cod smoked on pine wood and some semi-dried tomatoes .
Caprese with Mozzarella Milk Mousse
This is reconstructed destructed mozzarella milk, I have no idea how they create this. It has the flavor of buffalo mozzarella, but with an mousse air like texture and it was served with a tomato coulis underneath.
Spatola “a beccafico” con caponata croccante
Layered fish with pesto and .. courgette? I can't remember exactly what was in the layers but it was delicious
Rice balls with red mullet ragout and wild fennel
This has strong flavours! Watch this short film of how Pino prepares these rice balls. He has such a creative approach to the food and the amount of work that goes into each dish is remarkable.
Beef tenderloin with ashy olive oil
Melts in your mouth! Looks raw, which I believe it pretty much is except for the fact it has been marinated for a very very long time.
Granita al Beetroot & Mini Brioche
The granita was lovely, however considering Ben isn't keen on beetroot, he wasn't too keen. The mini brioche however was a bit of a let down. It was dry and stale. I've made brioche before, so this made me a little sad.
La cassata Siciliana & Apple Cake with Caramel Ice Cream
Pudding envy! I went for the Sicilian ice creams which wasn't that great, I've had a lot of cream in my time and the one on Ben's plate was delicious! As was his mini apple cake.
Coffee mini Magnum (Il ricoperto al cioccolato)Pino the chef was present in the dining room a lot, inquiring on a regular basis whether everything was alright. He seemed a bit shy but incredibly sincere. The reason he is able to do this is because team of chefs in the kitchen. There is one chef catering for every four people. No wonder it's so slick!
Once we'd finally finished we ask about about organising a taxi and they informed us the same driver was waiting for us outside. We shook hands with Pino and our waiters as we left and drove back across the sicilian countryside to Mandranova. A superb evening.