Whenever I visit Sicily, I buy plastic vacuum packs of tomato concentrate, ‘stratto’, in the local market. It’s a whole other story to the slightly metallic commercial tomato paste you usually buy in shops. The flavour is intense, sunny and full of umami. Come the summer, once the tomatoes are ripe, every Sicilian household makes their own tomato concentrate or sauce. This is how they have fruity, sweet tomato sauce for the entire year.
I am staying near Ragusa in a family farmhouse and guest house called Tenuta Cammarana. Owners Silvia La Padula and Guiseppe Pulvirenti, an architect and a sculptor, live the winter in Rome and from April in Sicily. The house is beautifully styled, with cookbooks and art books in the library, local ingredients such as the daily freshly-made still-warm ricotta from a neighbouring farming family ( I tasted it from the copper pot simmering on a fire) and the almond granita with brioche, delivered every afternoon by their own personal ice cream man. Granita and gelato are socially acceptable as breakfast or lunch in Sicily, it’s often too hot to eat anything else.