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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Capodanno: Ending 2022 with an Indigenous Sicilian Grape + Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare #ItalianFWT

Updated: Jan 7

Buon anno! For this 2023 kick-off to our Italian Food Wine Travel group, we are starting at the southern tip of the boot with food and wine pairings of Sicily. I am hosting and you can read my invitation: here.

Though we typically have a live Twitter chat, we skipped those completely in December. And this month we are actually trying out a Facebook live or Facebook chat. I am not even really sure what's it's called. We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, here are all the articles planned by the writers...

Catarratto, an Indigenous Sicilian Grape

Catarratto is a classic white grape variety that is used as the main grape in several local .appellations, such as Alcamo, Marsala, new grape varieties. The grape makes up nearly a third of Sicilian vineyards with most of them concentrated around the areas of Agrigento, Trapani and Palermo.

Genetically, DNA analysis shows that Catarratto is most likely a direct parent of Garganega and Grillo as well a relative of Mantonico Bianco in Calabria, Susumaniello in Apulia, Malvasia di Candia in Central Italy, Trebbiano in Tuscany, Albana and Mostosa in Romagna, Dorona and Marzemina in Veneto.

I opened up a bottle of the 2020 Caruso e Minini Naturalmente Bio Catarratto. Located on the west coast of the island, near the town of Marsala, Caruso e Minimi's history goes back to the late nineteenth century when Antonio Caruso bought the company to grow grapes for local Marsala producers. In the 1900s, Nino Caruso started producing his own wines. And, in 2004, Stefano Caruso linked with Mario Minimi to launch the present winery. They began to focus on indigenous Sicilian varieties such as Catarratto, Nero d’Avola, Frappato, Inzolia, and Nerello Mascalese.

Today, Stefano's daughter Giovanna heads the historic winery. They have five hectares that are farmed organically and dedicated to Giovanna's BIO project. The estate was under water millions of years ago and is characterized by its alluvial soil which is rich in organic substances. There are also cuti, in the local dialect, which are softball-sized stones that have a specific minerality and that hold heat from the sun that allow the grapes to ripen earlier. That results in a higher acidity in the wines.

In the glass the wine poured a clear, pale gold color. On the nose, the wine was surprisingly fragrant with notes of lemon blossom. On the palate, the wine was fresh and elegant. Its flavor matched its fragrance with flavors of citrus and minerals. I loved that this was a robust white wine and knew that it would be a great match with a rich, flavorful pasta dish.

Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare

When I can get my hands on fresh sea urchin, I love to make Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare, 'hedgehogs of the sea spaghetti.' Back in 2014, after watching The Hundred Foot Journey, we tracked down some fresh urchin and D learned to clean them. And we have picked them up whenever we see them, but they are a hassle to prep. 'Hedgehogs of the Sea' is a very fitting name.

Thankfully our CSF (community-supported fishery) offered a pound of them as a New Year's Eve special order. And they were already cleaned. Ummm...heck yeah! What a deal. And as this is a very popular dish in the coastal regions, including Puglia, Sardinia, and Sicily; I knew it would be a great dish for our capodanno dinner matched with the Catarratto.


  • 1 package dried spaghetti

  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and diced

  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely diced

  • 1 cup white wine

  • 12 ounces sea urchin roe + 4 ounces for garnishing

  • 1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped

  • juice from 1 organic lemon

  • olive oil

  • Also needed: bottarga or parmesan for sprinkling over the top for serving


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

  2. As the pasta cooks, add a splash of oil to a large skillet. Stir in the garlic and shallots. Cook until the shallots are softened and beginning to caramelize.

  3. Add the wine to the pan and leave to reduce by half. Then add in the sea urchin roe.

  4. Drain the pasta, then add to the pan and toss to coat in the sauce.

  5. Fold in the parsley and lemon juice. Toss to coat.

  6. Portion the pasta into individual serving bowls. Grate bottarga or parmesan for serving. Garnish with another fresh urchin row. Serve immediately.

Well, that's a wrap for my Sicilian wine-food pairing for this month's #ItalianFWT event. Next month Lynn of Savor the Harvest will be hosting the group as we head to Puglia for our pairings. Stay tuned.

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