First, there is green, unripe Mandarins. These have a tart, acidic edge to their sweetness, nothing surprising about that. The green mandarins are the freshest, most vigorous of the three, and most useful in perfumery...according to Mr. Sandro. And he would know.
Third, and not starting the season for another month at least, is Red Mandarin. This is the one you find most commonly. It’s the more mature fruit, and the biggest crop of all Mandarins, and, I think, the one you usually see under the name “Mandarin.” This oil is still wonderful, still mouth-watering, but without the green acerbic edge or the maniacal burst of happy wonder. Red Mandarin is calm and mature, serene and soft.
I’ve spent most of my time in the north of Sicily, on one of the Agriturismos, midway between Termini Imeresi and Cefalu, in the hills. It’s name is Terre di Himera and I will give the link at the end of the post. It’s about a nice a place as you will find in this world. First, the owners, Marie and Fabrizio, are so kind, so helpful, so gentle, and they cook dinner. Now, this dinner, (and they easily accommodate vegetarians,) is entirely made from local ingredients. Meaning, the olive oil is their own, pressed from their own trees, the bread (and pasta) is made from local Sicilian flours, not replicated elsewhere, not even in New York, people. The vegetables and cheeses are all from the immediate area (with the possible exception of Parmesan,) as does the wine, the grappa, the fruits (prickly pears, apples, pears, lemons, pomegranates, etc) and even the Gelato.
|Pistachio and Coffee|
The animals at Terre di Himere are friendly, cared for, and gentle, not scared of anyone, as they meet with kindness daily. The cats even know enough to sit at the doorway to the kitchen, not inside, as they practice their pitiful mews to show how they are really starving they are, poor things.
I can’t say enough about the food. If you come here, you will probably think you should try a variety, try a restaurant, as well as the home cooked food, and maybe you will find a good meal. But if you love good food, and think that something made with love and care, with the world’s best and freshest ingredients (and not expensive at all either,) is interesting, then just tell Marie or Fabrizio that you would like dinner, please. You won’t be sorry.
The lodge is wonderful in itself, populated with aromatic plants and happy animals, and everyone is friendly, even the other guests.
I must admit it’s fantastic to be in an environment where everything doesn’t have to be a secret, emotions can be shown, relations can be natural and normal, food enjoyed, and animals petted. It’s a big relaxing breath of fresh air.