Sicilian Fun with Frappato, Grillo, Swordfish and Artichokes #ItalianFWT

Occhipinti Il Frappato with swordfish skewers

Conclusion: The right red wine pairs beautifully with swordfish, but artichokes call for a white

A Virtual Return to Sicily
Our Italian Food Wine & Travel group has visited (virtually) Sicily a couple of times. This month, we’re returning with another open invitation to further explore Sicily from afar. I’m fascinated with everything related to Mount Etna, but there’s much more to explore than that one corner of this large island. This time I vowed to move my focus. My fellow bloggers are also posting on Sicily this month, so take a look toward the bottom of this post to link to their finds!

artichokes (carciofi) roasted in the coals

A classic Sicilian preparation: artichokes (carciofi) roasted in the coals

Foods
In my research, found that artichokes (Carciofi) are a classic Sicilian veggie choice. A favorite preparation is to simply add a bit of oil and salt and roast them in the coals of a fire. In Sicily, they have special pans for doing so, a bit like overgrown muffin tins. I had to improvise, but the results were great!

For a main dish, I looked to Sicily’s position in the Mediterranean – lots of access to blue (deep) water, so there are lots of big blue water fish, such as swordfish available in fish markets.

Occhipinti Il Frappato

A lighter bodied red wine can pair beautifully with a blue water fish like swordfish

Red Wine for Blue Water Fish
Frappato di Vittoria (or just Frappato) is an Italian grape variety grown primarily in Sicily. I’ve tried Frappato a number of times with seafood, and I’ve always been happy with the results. The lighter body of the wine seems to go well with big ocean fish. Smaller fish in delicate preparations may to be too light for Frappato, but you’re safe with salmon, swordfish, tuna or other big blue water species.

Arianna Occhipinti is one of the rising stars of the new Sicily wine movement. Her vineyards and winery are located near the town of Vittoria, in the south of Sicily. She works organically in the vineyard and takes a natural approach of native yeasts, minimal intervention and minimal addition of sulfur. Arianna’s Frappato is an excellent example of what can be done with the grape.

Ariana Occhipinti's il Frappato is perfect with bluewater fish

Ariana Occhipinti’s il Frappato is perfect with bluewater fish

Occhipinti Il Frappato IGT 2014 ($34 at Sunfish Cellars)
Eye: Clear, pale+ ruby with a purple edge.
Nose: Clean, evergreen/creosote in front with cranberries behind.
Mouth: Bone dry, medium body, medium acidity, medium+ tannins. cranberries in front, evergreen behind, nice long persistent finish.

Excellent with a big ocean fish like swordfish. Body was light enough but stood up to the meaty quality of the fish. While the Frappato was great with the fish, it wasn’t the best pairing with the artichokes, no big surprise there.  The white wine was a better match.

Peloro is grillo and caricante

Peloro is grillo and caricante

Le Casematte winery is located in the northeastern corner of the island near Messina, just across from the toe of the boot of the Italian mainland. The winery is a new endeavor only since 2008, but has established itself with organic practices and a desire to produce wines appropriate for the Faro region.

Le Casematte “Peloro” Terre Siciliane Bianco IGT 2016 ($19 from Sunfish Cellars)
Eye: Clear, medium- intensity lemon yellow
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. White flowers, a bit of citrus and white peach.
Mouth: Dry, medium- body, medium+ acidity, nice cleansing acidity.

Very nice with seafood, although swordfish was perhaps a bit much. Better with scallops, shrimp, lighter fish. This wine was excellent with the charcoal roasted artichokes.

grill foods

Start the artichokes well before the swordfish skewers, but plan for them to finish simultaneously.

Swordfish Skewers and Roasted Artichokes

The swordfish skewer “recipe” is from Food & Wine magazine, pairing it with artichokes is my small addition.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium size artichokes, 1 per person
  • 24 oz. swordfish steaks, cut into 1″cubes
  • 28 fresh bay leaves, soaked in warm water
  • 3 lemons cut into wedges (reserve some for garnishing the plate and sqeezing on the artichoke leaves.
  • 4 small foil pie/shepherds pie pans
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Fine sea salt, freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  • Start the fire on the grill, maintaining a temperature of about 450° F
  • Work a bit of EVOO into the top of each artichoke and roll it around a bit to loosen up.
  • Sprinkle the artichokes with sea salt and place into mini-pie tin.  Form the pie tin snugly around the bottom of the artichoke
  • Place in the coals where they’ll cook for a total of about 45 minutes
  • Soak the bay leaves in warm water for about 15 minutes
  • Thread the swordfish, bay leaves and lemon wedges onto the skewers. Drizzle with a bit of EVOO, and salt and pepper lightly
  • When the artichokes have about 10-12 minutes to go, place the skewers on the grill, turning once or twice.
  • When the skewers are done, remove everything from the grill.
  • Serve the skewers first with a light red wine.
  • Serve the artichokes with a fresh white wine. Finish with the artichokes in a leisurely fashion, peeling and eating the soft base of each leaf until you get to the heart. Make sure to remove the choke before you go for the heart!

Swordfish skewers

Swordfish skewers

Italian Food Wine & Travel Friends Share Sicily
The posts below will go live on Saturday, March 4th, 2017.  Our group will get together for a live chat on Twitter 8-9am PST/11-12 EST that day to discuss Sicilian food, wine and travel.  Join us using the #ItalianFWT  hashtag on Saturday morning!

We hope to “see” you online Saturday, March 4th!

Sicilian Fun with Frappato, Grillo, Swordfish and Artichokes

 

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Comments
16 Responses to “Sicilian Fun with Frappato, Grillo, Swordfish and Artichokes #ItalianFWT”
  1. I’m a big swordfish fan, and tend to serve it with a light red. I’m sure I’d love this pairing!

  2. I love swordfish Jeff. Your recipe and the pairings look great. And since I’ve yet to try Frapatto, you’ve given me some homework!

  3. Beautiful pairings, Jeff. I love the photo of the artichokes in the coals – reminds me of Mount Etna! Both wines you chose sound delicious, too. I’m a big fan of Frappato and the white blend sounds like it would be perfect for South Florida.

  4. Lynn says:

    Have not had a 100% Frapatto…yet! Sounds as though it could be good slightly chilled on a warmer day? Oh how I wish we had a BBQ/grill here. Your artichokes look sublime ;-D

  5. Vino Travels says:

    Amazing pics as always. They belong in a Food & Wine ; ) good to know frappato paired well with those fishes

  6. I adore grilled artichokes but have never tried roasting them like this. I MUST! The wines sound great as well. A delicious meal indeed!

  7. Jill Barth says:

    I love what you’ve done with the artichokes and would be excited to witness what the coals do to the flavor. They look fun & eye-catching too. The post is outstanding & I’ve shared on Pinterest too. Cheers!

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