Lunch with Alice

April 16, 2013

Alice hosted a luncheon yesterday.

Lunch under the Olives in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

A 4-legged critter with eyelashes long as dreams, Alice set quite a charming table in the middle of her grassy field, under twirling olive trees.


Her human, Antonio, threw steaks on the grill. Not just any old steaks, but those of Massimiliano Castro, named best butcher in Sicily.  We devoured them like a pack of wild animals while Alice, a vegetarian, kept right on chomping her grass. Once in a while her boyfriend would bray from across the valley, and Alice would holler right back. He haw he haw he haw! It’s spring, and love is in the air.

For dessert, Antonio made cuccia, the traditional dessert eaten in Siracusa for Santa Lucia feast day–a heart-stopping concoction of grain, ricotta, honey, orange rind, and orange flower water. Head chef at his Donnalucata restaurant, Consiglio di Sicilia, Antonio plans to add the dessert to his menu. Reason enough to get on a plane and fly here all the way from Kansas.

Antonio Cicero with his cuccia, copyright Jann Huizenga

Chef Antonio Cicero with his cuccia

Among the guests joining Alice was Sicilian-born, Melbourne-based Marisa Raniolo Wilkins, author of the fabulous Sicilian Seafood Cooking. A gorgeous book created with love for all things Sicilian. Complimenti, Marisa!

Marisa Raniolo Wilkins, copyright Jann Huizenga

Thank you, Alice, for a wonderful afternoon in your field. You’re welcome at my table anytime.

Antonio Cicero, copyright Jann Huizenga

Chef Antonio with Alice


If you are interested in having a similar lunch with Alice, either with cooking classes or a culinary tour (incuding a salami tasting with Massimiliano), drop me a line and I’ll put you in touch with Antonio and his wife Roberta.


Massimiliano Castro, copyright Jann Huizenga

Massimiliano Castro, Sicily’s best butcher

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43 comments to Lunch with Alice

  • cemal karahan

    aaaiiaaaa….aaaiiiiiiaaa…..donkeys; hav hav, hav…hav,hav, hav….dogs; üü..ürüüüüüüüüü …üüüüüüü roosters.

  • Ooo, I forgot.

    Love the cute dude in the jeans! Haaaa

  • Jann,
    can I visit your heaven one day? 🙂 Magic.

    And I ADORE LOVE love Alice!!! Haven’t I told you I am wild about donkeys?!


  • Ah, Jann, what a beautiful life you leed! La dolce vita at its finest. And that Alice! What a beauty! Everything about this post made my senses tingle–all the way from the cuccia to the smell of spring in the air! The photos are simply amazing! 🙂

    • Jann

      Well, Bella, I sure appreciate the beautiful things in my life. By nature, I tend to gloss over and eventually forget the cr*p, but don’t worry–there’s plenty of that, too!

  • Julia

    Jann…yes yes yes…we need a lunch just like this one…Alice invited of course, of course. 4 retired ladies from nyc traveling thru during September 2013. We stay ih Sortino for Santa Sofia feast…maybe you can hook us up with culinary lunch and maybe an olive oil farm in Chiaramonte Gulfi? Thanks for your reply Jann..this is our first post

    • Jann

      Julia–thank you so much for stopping by the blog. I will email you the details and contact information. I was just in Sortino for the first time a few weeks ago–it’s known as the City of Honey, so be sure you take a few jars home. And the nearby village of Ferla is cute if you get a chance to go there, and I’m sure you’ll visit nearby Siracusa. Have a great ttip, and I hope you can make to to Chiaramonte and meet Alice.

  • Luscious luscious post. Just great.

    I’m eating it all up, including the darling donkey. Aren’t they the sweetest creatures? I long to be under that olive tree at that table today.

    Australian accents are cool??? Who knew! xx

    • Jann

      I wish you could have been under that olive tree, Narelle. You could have caught us up with all the films we’re missing (one theater in town with bad films). Of course, we Americans think that Australian and British accents sound very cool!

  • John Schinina

    Ciao Jann, That photo with Alice set next to that table could be sold as a portrait. You tend to bring us to that place, enjoying the arrival of that wonderful Steak, a great bottle of Wine, topped with a delightful Dessert and a beautiful guest of honor, Alice. Its a Romance in the making. Jann your lady of much talent, thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Awesome! Who’d have thought a lunch with a donkey named Alice would look so inviting?!

  • I cannot think of anything more exquisite than have lunch al fresco with an amiable donkey joining you!

    • Jann

      It was pretty special, and I was especially happy that we didn’t have to compete with her for the steaks.

  • cemal karahan

    Amid all the beauties, the existence of a wonderful donkey gives the scene another meaning, Jann. Bon appetite..! Some of the Italian chefs work in Istanbul together with Turkish partners and create great meals…! Bravo to Alice for a wonderful lunch. By the way where and how can you find Jann, the words any single dictionary does not include like haw haw haw…..?

    • Jann

      Cemal, you made me laugh by saying the dictionary does not include HAW. 🙂 He haw he haw is what donkeys say in English, just like dogs say bow wow and roosters cockadoodledoo. How do donkeys speak in Turkish???

  • Sam

    It would appear that Alice lives in a Wonderland.

    • Jann

      🙂 And in Italian “alice” (ah-lee-chay) means anchovy. So Anchovy lives in Wonderland, too.

  • i’ve mucked for gold in the icy cold
    in the land of the northern lights
    spent a spring on the plain where it’s mainly rain
    in the land where el cordobe’s fights
    i sailed on sweet sixteen the african queen
    i gaped at buckingham palace
    i’ve seen the harbour light the arabian nights
    and eaten at the restaurant owned by alice.
    excerpt from bar room ballad a poem by Dennis Berry 1975
    Would lve to try your Alice’s Restaurant

  • lisa

    Yes, I would love to have lunch with alice. I will be in Palermo in a few days. Are they far from Palermo? Please let me know. Grazie!

    • Jann

      Ciao Lisa,
      I’ve sent you an email. They’re at the opposite side of the island from Palermo, unfortunately…. Have fun!

  • What a fabulous lunch! Such an international set you are too. Jann, these experiences must make it all worthwhile. Thank you di cuore for sharing such precious moments. x

    • Jann

      Janine–you Australians are really nice people & it’s fun to spend time with you (and admire your cool accent).

  • Rita Price

    Hello Jann

    What a lovely surprise to see my dear friend, Marisa Raniolo Wilkins at your table. She’s been spreading the love of Sicilian cooking for many years here in Melbourne where a large community of Ragusani live.
    Rita Price

  • jan walcott


    This makes it a definite that we will try to be in Sicily in October/early November. Love the options of the cooking class, I assume in Ragusa Ibla?

  • now this is the way to eat….great company and who could resist Alice! x

  • Ron

    Please overnight me 20 lbs. of sausage.
    Zio Ronnie 😉

    • Jann

      Only 20 pounds, Zio Ronnie?? This guy has pistachio sausage, fennel sausage, and many other varieties.

  • Yes – please put me in touch. I’m planning a trip next year to celebrate our 40th anniversary – would love to do cooking classes and for sure plan a trip to the Donnalucata Restaurant

  • What a lovely face Alice has.

  • Tom Wilson

    I feel the love, the dreaminess of the olive trees, the seduction of the springtime air, and the music of all your smiles….how nice!

  • Charlie

    Tell Antonio he looks great in those jeans Jann. LOL

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