When considering my Sunday plans, I jumped on the opportunity to attend the 21st annual Sicilian Festival in downtown San Diego’s Little Italy. I prepared myself for the inevitable feasting and sugar highs with a light breakfast and a high intensity morning workout.
Boy was there feasting! Calamari, pizza cannoli, gelato… the best from Sicily transported me to the beautiful volcanic island as well as transporting my blood sugar into the high zone.
With the exception of the phenomenal food tents set up by various Italian restaurants, the Sicilian festival wasn’t so Sicilian, but rather just like pretty much every other fair or festival in San Diego, with various organizations handing out fliers about every club or organization imaginable. The only thing missing were the hari krishnas.
It makes sense then, that me and my three friends ignored most of the tents and made the day about feasting.
We began with fried calamari provided by Caffe Zucchero. It may have been the hunger we had built up walking around, but it turned out to rival even the calamari I ate in Sicily. In fact, I am inclined to bestow upon it the title of best calamari I’ve ever had, high praise from a seafood connoisseur.
Our second course was pizza from Napizza. Now, although everyone else was a huge fan, I was hardly impressed. As I’ve mentioned before, Italy ruined food for me in the sense that I am now the biggest food snob you will ever meet. There are few restaurants I can stand, and you can forget taking me to an Italian restaurant. That being said, there is one thing that turned me off about the pizza. The dough was average, the veggies were fresh and locally sourced, the cheese was gooey. Why then am I being so harsh on this pizza? The easiest answer would have to be it wasn’t authentic. I ordered parmigiana, a basic tomato sauce topped pizza with eggplant and cheese. It looked normal in the window, however when it arrived there was something green on it. The something green was not fresh basil, but rather a green sauce, pesto. Now, I love some good pesto, particularly with pasta. Pesto on pizza, pesto on pizza with tomato sauce is a crime. I noshed on some of my friends pizzas, and there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the veggie pizza or the porcini mushroom pizza, however mine was a disappointment.
No Sicilian meal is complete without i dolci. Sicily is famous for its sweets and desserts, and after my brief disappointment with the pizza, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed by Pappalecco. I can say that Pappalecco is the best gelato in San Diego. I judge gelaterias initially on the color of their gelato (natural muted color is always better) and then on the taste of their pistacchio gelato. Pappalecco passes with high marks for their pistachio. It’s color is a light green brown and the taste is creamy but not too heavy or sweet. It’s a little taste of Italy in a cup. Another flavor to try is the pappalecco flavor which is a heavenly toffee color and tastes like tiramisu.
Having eaten our way around the Sicilian festival, we left with exploding tummies and food comaed minds. Left with the taste of Sicily on my tongue, nostalgia for the authentic thing hit me hard.