Grappa and ricotta prove winning combination at Sicilian gelato festival

The 10th annual Sherbeth Festival, an ice cream festival in Palermo that recognizes the best of global gelato-making, has awarded first prize this year to Italian Fabio Solighetto from the northern province of Monza near Milan, for his ricotta and grappa gelato.

Grappa and ricotta prove winning combination at Sicilian gelato festival
More traditional gelato flavours at an ice cream shop in Rome. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Culinary artisans travelled from 50 territories across the globe, including Japan and Mexico, to compete at this year’s festival, which took place over a four-day period between September 27 and September 30 and attracted half a million visitors who were served more than 20,000 kilos of ice cream.

The competition was judged by food technologist Franco Bray, food writer Luca Iaccarino, and gelatiere Gianfrancesco Cutelli, as well as last year’s winners Taizo Shibano and Satoshi Takada from Japan, reports Il Denaro.





L'arrivo dei nostri maestri gelatieri!

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Solighetto, who owns the gelateria L’albero dei Gelati (“The Ice Cream Tree”) in the town of Seregno, told reporters he used ricotta di bufala, white Penja pepper, and capovilla prunus aurum grappa that had been aged for 15 years to concoct his winning entry.

“For the competition I thought of a taste that best represented the concept of territory and craftsmanship, but I wanted the real thing, which is the fruit of long periods of waiting,” he said upon receiving first prize.

“With my flavours I wanted to emphasize the perfection of raw materials,” he added.

In addition to receiving the trophy, Solighetto was also awarded prize money of €1,000 from event sponsor the Bravo Company.

Second prize went to Laura Mesa Franco, who came all the way from Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia, for her hazelnut-based Dulce Arequipe gelato.

Sicilian Rosario Leone D'Angelo from Messina came in third place with a chocolate-flavoured entry using cocoa from the Ivory Coast.






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Sherbeth Festival organisers Davide Alamia and Piergiorgio Martorana thanked participants, saying, “Today we can say that Sherbeth has become the biggest and most important ice cream event in the world, and this makes us proud and encourages us to do even better.”

“Now let's think now about the next ten years of the festival.”

So ice cream aficionados who missed this year’s festival can console themselves – it will be back same time, same place, next September.



Sicily braces for rare Mediterranean cyclone as storms continue

Sicily's residents are bracing for the arrival of a cyclone later on Thursday, the second this week after a deadly storm hammered the Italian island, killing three people.

Sicily braces for rare Mediterranean cyclone as storms continue
Cars and market stalls submerged in Catania, Sicily, after heavy rain hit the city and province on october 26th. Photo: STRINGER/ANSA/AFP

A rare tropical-style cyclone known as a “medicane” is set to reach Sicily’s eastern coast and the tip of mainland Calabria between Thursday evening and Friday morning, according to Italian public research institute ISPRA.

“Heavy rainfall and strong sea storms are expected on the coast, with waves of significant height over 4.5 metres (15 feet),” ISPRA said.

The Italian Department for Civil Protection placed eastern Sicily under a new amber alert for Thursday and the highest-level red lert for Friday in anticipation of the storm’s arrival, after almost a week of extreme weather in the area.

A total of three people have been reported killed in flooding on the island this week amid storms that left city streets and squares submerged.

On Tuesday, parts of eastern Sicily were ravaged by a cyclone following days of heavy rains that had sparked flooding and mudslides, killing three people.

Television images from Tuesday showed flooding in the emergency room of Catania’s Garibaldi-Nesima hospital, while rain was seen pouring from the roof inside offices at the city courtroom.

Thursday’s storm was set to hit the same area around Catania, Sicily’s second-largest city, even as residents were still mucking out their streets and homes.

Schools were closed in Syracuse and Catania, where the local government ordered public offices and courts closed through Friday.

The mayor of Catania on Tuesday shut down all businesses and urged residents to stay home.

Antonio Navarra, president of the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change, told Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper this week that Sicily was at the centre of extreme weather events, including heatwaves and cyclones.

“We’re trying to understand if, with climate change, these phenomena will become even more intense, if they will change their character as their frequency intensifies,” he said.

READ ALSO: Climate crisis: The Italian cities worst affected by flooding and heatwaves

Cars submerged in Catania, Sicily, after storms hit the city and province on October 26th. Photo: STRINGER/ANSA/AFP

Other forecasters have said the “medicane” is the latest evidence that the climate crisis is irreversibly tropicalising the Mediterranean, after the island’s south-eastern city of Syracuse this August recorded a temperature of 48.8C, the hottest ever seen in Europe.

“Sicily is tropicalising and the upcoming medicane is perhaps the first of this entity, but it certainly won’t be the last,” Christian Mulder, a professor of ecology and climate emergency at the University of Catania, told The Guardian on Wednesday.

“We are used to thinking that this type of hurricane and cyclone begins in the oceans and not in a closed basin like the Mediterranean. But this is not the case,” he said.

“This medicane is forming due to the torrid climate of north Africa and the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The Aegean Sea has a temperature of 3C higher than the average, while the Ionian Sea has a temperature of almost 2C higher than the average. The result is a pressure cooker.”

The storm is expected to leave the area between Saturday and Sunday.