Bookalokal: Sicilian

We don’t often choose Italian when we eat out. Partly because my wife likes to make Italian food at home. Partly because we go to Italy fairly frequently and get our fill of fresh local specialities over there. But this weekend we had the opportunity to attend a bookalokal event featuring Sicilian cuisine. Sicily is one of the parts of Italy I still haven’t visited, so I was keen to try it out.

We arrived at Emanuela‘s house in the Ixelles quarter of Brussels and were welcomed into her living room for an aperitif. Her two daughters were bustling around in the kitchen and after a few minutes came through with a plate of mozzarella pastries they’d made themselves.

We were then joined by several other guests, who were a varied and interesting group: an Italian tenor, a German-born European Commission translator, a Flemish-Catalan singer and a doctor from Ghent who specialises in allergies. Plus Emanuela, who has professional experience in the catering industry, and her lawyer husband Giorgio.

The first dish was caponata, which is a Sicilian aubergine salad with peppers, capers and sweetened vinegar. On the right, more aubergines with mozzarella and mushrooms. As Emanuela explained caponata is one of those dishes which everyone does a little differently, but I was more than happy with her version: the vinegar adds a little sharpness but without making it too sour. Nicely balanced. We all had two portions.



The pasta is another Sicilian recipe: pasta alla norma. Aubergine, tomato, ricotta and basil. Another winner.


And finally for dessert: biancomangiare. This is a far cry from the “blancmange” we were served in the school canteen back in England, and the almond milk, cinnamon and pistachio flavours made it a very satisfying and light dessert.


Our hosts were warm and enthusiastic and we chatted for quite a while with the other guests about favourite restaurants and recipes. It was a very enjoyable evening and one we’re keen to repeat soon.


11 thoughts on “Bookalokal: Sicilian

  1. Erik R. September 15, 2014 / 8:30 am

    Aubergines are cheap this time of year. Is Sicilian cuisine often vegetarian, or was the absence of meat just a coincidence?


  2. paolaot September 15, 2014 / 8:52 am

    A coincidence, but i hadn’t even thought about that, I guess Italian food in general is big on vegetables.


  3. simonlitton September 15, 2014 / 9:33 am

    Yeah, I didn’t even stop to think about the lack of meat.


  4. bawa September 15, 2014 / 10:43 am

    Could it be that meat was not abundant & therefore expensive, so even if it is “non-veg”, it would be a comparatively small portion of the meal, bulked out with veg and pasta?


  5. simonlitton September 15, 2014 / 10:46 am

    Possibly, although I think they eat more fish than meat anyway.
    And the meat would usually be separate from the pasta.


  6. jellyjules September 15, 2014 / 6:37 pm

    I don’t see any pasta in the picture of the pasta…just brightly colored vegetables. Perhaps that’s my eyes, perhaps the angles, but it seems a healthy way to portion your pasta…more veg, less noodles. Looks delicious, though if you disliked eggplant, you’d be out of luck with this meal.


    • simonlitton September 16, 2014 / 8:42 am

      Those rectangles around the edges covered in red sauce are the pasta.
      And sorry, but I always find it weird when Americans refer to all pasta as ‘noodles’, regardless of the shape or length. I wonder why that is?

      I just did a quick search and I’m none the wiser, although some seem to think that if it’s made with eggs it’s called “noodles”, and if it’s made without eggs it’s called “macaroni”. Hmmm.


    • paolaot September 16, 2014 / 7:16 pm

      I think it’s the angle, the sauce is never overpowering in Italian cuisine…


  7. Very Hungry Explorer (@VHungryExplorer) September 17, 2014 / 6:41 pm

    Looks like a wonderful evening, I’m the same with the noodles/pasta thing, to me noodles are what you get in Asian dishes and pasta in Italian. PLUS I spot the fabulous Angelika in your picture 😉


    • simonlitton September 18, 2014 / 8:33 am

      That’s her. It was the first time we’d met her but apparently she’s something of a bookalokal regular.


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