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Goat Cheese and Cashews with Honey and Lemon Salt

This mix of fresh favors was made with memories of Turkey and Sicily. Snack food, dessert, lunch….

  • Goats milk feta cheese is centered on a platter.
  •  Then my addicting raw unsalted cashews are poured around it. 
  • Local Michigan honey from my friend Peachie Martin is then drizzled over the cheese and nuts, as much as you like in a few layers.
  • Sprinkle over it all a sea salt. Mine is from the salt pans of western Sicily which was mixed with dried bits of lemon. These salt pans and windmills of western Sicily, north of Marsala were one of our most favorite memories of travel. Part of the tour were the Phoenician islands, a salt tasting and the windmill museum.

We stayed in Erice, a hill town high above the Trapani region. With our car we took day trips to Segusta and Selinunte, the Greek ruins and to the ancient tuna fishing village Castellammare del Golfo and nearby Scopello. Took a boat tour of the Egadi Islands and had private tours of a cheese manufacturing facility and their local sheep farm and milking barn! Look for more video and pics under “travel” here at NinaintheKitchen.

 Discovering Sicily

Sicily is an elongated shaped island running east and west located south of Italy. We took the ferry from Cagliari, Sardinia to Palermo and then drove to Erice, a hilltop town near Trapani. We were there 10 days and took day trips to the Greek ruins of Segesta and Selenunte. We also toured the salt pans and island of Mozia and experienced a delish salt tasting! We had a gorgeous boat trip to the Egadi Islands where we stopped at Favignana and Levanzo.

We drove back to Palermo for a few days and saw an opera at the Massimo Opera House. We then took a long drive to the eastern part of the island for our Godfather pilgrimage in Savoca.  None of these spots should be missed!


Pulling into the Palermo harbor


Views on our way up to Erice  

The Trapani peninsula with their salt pans to the left


Castle in Erice.


Clouds and mist blowing through 

Castle in the morning fog


 Tower and church in the morning fog

Above the clouds sunset

Main church in Erice around the corner from our apartment

Old style painted cart and horse in Erice. Later the man sang us some Sicilian songs!


Cool terracotta pot in  Erice

Nuns in Erice  There are over 200 churches in Erice

We took a day trip to Segesta


Greek temple and amphitheater at Segesta


The salt pans of Mozia, south of Trapani and north of Marsala


These salt pans produce tons of sea salt every year

The mountain where Erice sits on top in the distance







These are artifacts from the Phoenician museum on Mozia which is within the salt flats. These beads remind me of the Turkish evil eye glass which keeps evil spirits away

We experienced a lovely salt tasting with fruit in the Windmill Museum 

See more pics at my post What’s to Eat in Sicily


  We took an all day boat trip to the Egadi Islands from Trapani and stopped at 2 of the 3. Here is the Island of Farignana:


The old tuna fishing museum


The caves of the Egadi Islands



This the Island of Levanzo:



Elite Island Travel is located in Trapani right at the port. They booked our tickets to the salt pans and islands.  Giacomo Incarbona also arranged a tour of a sheep farm during milking and a cheese factory and shop that produces sheeps milk ricotta! Unforgettable experiences! Thank you Giacomo and staff! Thank you also to Mario and Maria at Caseificio Ingardia in Paceco located outside Trapani. They produce Sicilian cheese.





Fresh ricotta made from sheeps milk 

del Golfo is an old tuna fishing village we visited near Scopello.



Boat anchor collection

Watch tower on top of a cliff




,Greek ruins of Selinunte



We drove back to Palermo for a few days and stayed at the Massimo Hotel located across from the Massimo Opera House, the third largest in the world after Paris and Vienna.  Beautiful hotel with superb service and assistance!

We played paparazzi and watched the opening night red carpet!






We took a tour of the opera house and also went on a walking tasting tour of old Palermo. You can see more pics from that at my post What’s To Eat in Sicily? 


Beautiful churches in Palermo. 


A chapel within  the Norman palace. Christian, Greek Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim combined


We crossed Sicily to the east and made our stop at Savoca for The Godfather pilgrimage. We stayed at a superb resort called Borgo San Rocco. The staff were so friendly! Rosemary was especially welcoming. It was so nice we stayed 2 nights instead of one. Creative food with a fresh lighter slant! See my post on eating in Sicily!

Bar Vitelli was The Godfather place to go. It hasn’t changed much since the scene was filmed there. They are adding on a wine bar in back though! 


Ford Coppola had a home here. He was friends with the original owner of Bar Vitelli.


The wedding scene between Michael Corleone and Apalonia was also filmed in Savoca at this church. We saw a wedding here too, plus another one that day!



Beautiful walks in Savoca, a hill top town.


 Thanks to the new friends we meet in our travels! It’s made all the difference!

From here we drove to Messina and took a 1 hour ferry trip with our car to mainland Italy. On to Puglia located in the heel of Italy.

What’s to Eat in Sicily?

Two weeks in Sicily and I can’t believe how much we ate! Most of our time was spent in Trapani and Erice, and a few days in Palermo and Savoca (our Godfather pilgrimage)!

Erice is a mysterious beautiful town on a mountain top up from Trapani. We rented an apartment here for 10 days. Dinner our first night was at the highly rated Monte San Guiliano.

A local specialty antipasti here is fried chickpea triangles

Cold octopus salad With marinated fennel strips and carrots

  Smoked dried tuna with tomato, shrimp with mayonnaise like sauce, couscous in squid ink formed in a mold


Sardine fillet rolled with bread crumbs on an orange slice. Fried fish patty.
Super tender house made ravioli stuffed with ricotta, with a squid ink and squid sauce and a dollop of ricotta! Incredible!


House made sausages 


Calamari filled with ricotta in a ricotta cream sauce

Pizza in Erice

The most fresh fish of the entire trip at Antichi Sapori in Trapani. Here is a red tuna seared and served with a salsa of tomato, almond, basil and garlic.


Fried tiny fish, calamari and shrimp, octopus salad, and 3 dried fish slices with olive oil and balsamic.

Sardine Balls, a meatball with sardines in a tomato sauce. Some have more sardine flavor than others.  


Almond wine and sesame almond biscuits 

Postale 17 was our nearby cafe in Erice. This is their caponata, a mix of fried eggplant, tomato, onion and garlic with chopped almonds on top. Also served with added swordfish. Eat alone or with bread like bruschetta.

Bruschetta from Postale 17 with Caponata, fresh tomato and oregano, and thin sliced lardo (seasoned fat from a pig)

Marinated Octopus, carrot,and fennel over arugula served on a no

South of Trapani is the island of Mozia where we experienced a phenomenal salt tasting with fresh fruits! They eat salt on lemon!!

In Erice we ate dinner at Hotel Elimo, with very helpful servers



  Busiati Trapanesi, the local pasta here with their local Erice Pesto sauce: tomato, eggplant, almonds and garlic.

  Sea bream with lemon

  Beef Marsala, made with Marsala wine from nearby Marsala.


  Arancine, a Sicilian food made with saffron risotto and filled here with jamon and mozzarella cheese. Always covered with a paste of flour and water and then toasted breadcrumbs and deep fried. 

This is the authentic arancine filled with beef, carrots and peas.

A gourmet arancine filled with seafood and pistachio. 

Pasticceria San Carlo was a favorite in Erice. Here is a coffin full of plain biscotti drying. These are 6 inches long! 


This is the famous Genovese from Erice only! A cookie pastry filled with milk custard and dusted with powdered sugar. Amazing when hot out of the oven!


Another Erice pastry is Graffa con Ricotta, a doughnut like pastry cut in half and filled with sweetened ricotta and just a few chocolate chips

Cannoli!!  Plain and dusted with pistachio and sweetened orange rind

Ricotta is made with sheeps milk and there are bands of sheep grazing all over Sicily. The cows roam also, here with a farmer, though not always.

We visited a sheep farm during milking near Trapani. Unforgettable! Thank you Nino!



Hooking up to the milking machine

We learned about cheese making at Caseificio Ingardia in Paceco. They also treated us to a delicious sampling of cheeses! 

Ricotta in progress

Ricotta in tubs


Cows milk cheese in progress

    Fresh from the vat ricotta is warm, light and like custard!


Thank you Maria and Mario! 

Giacomo Incarbona, from Elite Island travel agency, was the most helpful person is Sicily! He booked trips for us and arranged the tours of the sheep farm and cheese company. Thank you Giacomo and staff!


Smoked tuna and tomatoes, octopus salad, bruschetta with onion, chicken cutlets, an antipasti  

Swordfish with Marsala sauce  

Grilled lamb, sausage and chicken


Braised fennel


Pizza in Palermo at Pizzeria Italia! With seafood and no cheese! This is Italy and the two are not allowed together!

We drove from Erice to Selinunte, the enormous Greek ruins. Stopped for lunch at Buffas Castle. This “lobster” is the whole lobster cut in half and covered in buttered bread crumbs. Unusual

  Grilled lamb


One of the most delicious foods of the trip her is a saffron risotto with teeny zucchini and zucchini flowers and truffle oil. In Palermo at Spinnacato.

Squid ink and calamari on spaghetti

In Palermo we took a Viator walking and tasting tour. Here are some market pics



Veal cartilage and fat here is breaded and deep fried and available only in the markets! Served on a sandwich roll usually.


Teeny tasty strawberries from the wild


Fresh red tuna


Whole fish by the kilogram 


Many sizes and types of calamari  

The sword in the swordfish!


Artichoke with its stalks which can be cooked separately into a pasta sauce.


Sfincione, a focaccia like bread with a thin tomato onion sauce, grilled in the food cart seasoned oven


Beef spleen braised in a sauce and sandwiched in a soft bun, another market food cart. Pane Meusa

We drove to the other end of Sicily and stayed at Resort Borgo San Rocco. Very nice! This is in Savoca, a mountain village where some Godfather scenes were filmed

Lunch at San Rocco…..

Eggplant flan with thin fried skin of eggplant


House made lasagne with eggplant  

A special dinner with many courses at the resort. 30 Euros each!


Black squid ink gnocchi in a fava bean purée and a whole shrimp

Intermezzo of puréed eggplant, sweet tomato and strawberry purée, ricotta and mint


Risotto with calamari, mussels, and clams


Fettuccine with meat Ragusa

Pork with strawberry purée and pistachio

Fish with capers, tomato and fennel frond


Pannecotte with strawberry purée