November (The best month of my life continued)
I am not sure that I have ever been so tired as I was on the day after our wedding, but my parents hosted a breakfast for out of town guests so we rallied and managed to make an appearance.
As we were packing up my in-laws car the next morning and getting ready to leave, my brother in law was walking though the lobby when the staff called to him. “Wait,” they said, “We have the top layer of their wedding cake. They’re going to want it. It’s a tradition to freeze it and then eat it on your first anniversary.” My brother in law told them that he really didn’t think we would want to do that, but they insisted so he took it and brought it to us.
My brother in law was right, Chris and I had no desire to eat a bite of freezer burned cake in a year’s time. However, we came back to an empty refrigerator and we needed fuel to pack for the honeymoon we’d be leaving for the next day. So this happened…
On Tuesday, two days after we said our I do’s, we headed to the airport ready for 18 days in Sicily and Malta. We flew first class because it was our honeymoon and when else are we ever going to fly first class? Let me tell you, it makes a huge difference! As nice as the free flowing champagne was, the best part was having seats that fully reclined in to beds. I was still tired from the time change when we arrived, but I was so much less achey than I normally am after long flights. Since there are no direct flights to Sicily, we actually flew in to Milan and then took a short flight to Sicily.
Our first stop was Taormina. As soon as we arrived at our hotel we were taken up to the terrace and given a glass of prosecco while we watched the sunset over Mount Etna and the breathtakingly blue Mediterranean. The terrace also happened to be
Taormina is probably the most touristy spot in all of Sicily. It has a fairy tale like quality and it’s quite romantic, but because it’s such a hotspot for tourists it’s not a top food spot. I mean don’t get me wrong, this is Italy so there was no bad food, but the food in Taormina was good and not great. Two exceptions were the amazing hotel breakfasts and a lunch we had in our room one day.
Our room in Taormina was actually a small apartment with an enormous terrace. On our third afternoon there we stopped in a little cheese shop. We purchased 3 different local cheeses and the most amazing carpaccio. Then we grabbed a bottle of wine at a nearby shop and headed back to our terrace. Oh my God, it was heaven.
During our 4 days in Taormina we also took an afternoon trip to Catania, Sicily’s second largest city. Catania was probably my least favorite place in Sicily, but there were some interesting sites and I really loved visiting Catania’s famous fish market.
After 4 amazing days in Taormina we headed off to Siracusa (aka Syracuse). The small-ish city of Siracusa is famous for it’s Greek ruins.
Siracusa was one of my favorite stops in Sicily and also the first place where we got some amazing food. Our second favorite restaurant was called Oinos and our favorite was called Sicilian Tavola. We ate at each of them twice and I am still dreaming about the Pasta with bottarga (dried tuna roe) I had at Sicilian Tavola.
Sicily is obviously famous for its wines and we drank plenty of delicious Nero D’avlo, but we were also happy to find that Sicily has a great craft beer scene too.
The hotel we stayed at was ridiculously charming and we had yet another incredible private terrace.
After a few glorious days in Sircausa we were off to Malta!
Oh my God I can not say enough good things about Malta. Sicily is like it’s own world where not really works correctly which is part of it’s charm. Sicily is a wonderful place to vacation, but Malta felt like a place we could live. Malta was part of the British Empire for 150 years before gaining independence in 1964. Unlike Sicily, Malta is organized, efficient, and clean, which seems to be a nod to the British influence, but the Maltese also possess that classic warm, hospitable, and emotive Mediterranean demeanor. In all my travels I think the people in Malta may have been the nicest I’ve ever met. Every single person we met was just lovely.
For a tiny little Island (actually a group of 3 islands), Malta is surprisingly cosmopolitan and international. It’s history is fascinating, the landscape is stunning, and the food and wine are incredible. Also English is one of their two official languages. Everyone there speaks perfect English and all the signs everywhere are in both English and Maltese. It’s basically a perfect place for and American tourist.
One of my favorite meals of the trip was at a restaurant called Guze which is one of the top rated in Malta. The restaurant is in a 16th Century building filled with charm. The owner was so friendly and handled my food allergies flawlessly and the food was so good we ate their twice. One of my favorite dishes of the whole trip was the rabbit wrapped in gaunciale stuffed with leeks and cabbage. I love rabbit and this is the best rabbit dish I’ve ever had.
Another stand out meal was at a much trendier place called Truffle and Truffles.
Malta is one of the best places I’ve ever been and my only regret is that we didn’t schedule more time there, but I know I will be back one day. The consultation prize of having to leave Malta was that we got to return to Sicily to explore the west coast of the island.
When we returned to Sicily we made Palermo, Sicily’s largest city, our base of operations and we rented a car so we make some days trips from there.
On our way to Palermo we took a quick trip up to Mount Etna. I was excited to see an active volcano, but unfortunately it was so late in the season that it was snowing and brutally cold on the mountain and we did not have the right gear for that. Still the landscape was amazing to see.
Palermo is a very cool city with a lot of unique and interesting culture and history. We also found out that one of the best pizza places in Palermo was two doors down from our hotel and that’s where we ended up having our first “Thanksgiving dinner” as a married couple.
We took side trips to the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento and the salt flats in Trapani.
We also had some great meals while we were there as well.
Chris and I are obsessed with pizza. It’s a driving passion in our lives. Of course this meant that we couldn’t be so close to the birthplace of our favorite food without visiting and so on the last day of our honeymoon we flew to Naples for 12 hours to eat an obscene amount of pizza.
Our first stop was a place called Strata which was excellent and the service was super friendly. Next up was Gino Sorbillo, which was incredibly disappointing and not worth the wait or the attitude from our surly waiter. Our final stop was at Da Michele, a tiny no frills place that has been making pizzas since 1870. The pizza was absolutely incredible and Da Michele definitely lived up to it’s hype.
After a day of eating nothing but pizza we thought it would probably be wise to walk/swim all the way back to New York, but since that wasn’t an option we instead flew back to Milan in the evening, checked in to a hotel at the airport, got a good night’s rest, and the next morning we flew home.
What an incredible 18 days we had. My advice to anyone getting married is to take the longest honeymoon you possibly can. It’s so amazing to have so much time in a bubble with your new spouse!
OK I’m gonna rush through this as you must be so freaking bored at this point.
We celebrated my first birthday as a married lady at The Milling Room which has become one of our favorites.
Our building had a holiday party and I made Kyla Roma’s salted chocolate chip cookies. And for Christmas at my in-laws I made a chocolate mousse and orange curd tart that I will definitely post about separately.
But the highlight of December was an email I received from our amazing wedding photographer. Isabel March. Isabel had submitted a photo she had taken of me and my grandmother to Philadelphia Magazine and they chose it as their online photo of the week! Isabel asked me for a few details about my grandmother and then crafted a short write up. My grandma is my favorite so I absolutely loved that this was all about her and she was excited for her “brush with fame.” Read the short article here.
2015 was the absolute best year of my life, but I cannot wait to see what 2016 has in store.