ARANCINI, Rice Balls at Caffé di Lido

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I’d been told by that the best place to eat arancini in Melbourne is at Caffé di Lido. It sounds grand, but it is a beachside kiosk on Beaconsfield Parade in Port Melbourne. Sounded strange, but I went with Rita, my Sicilian friend whose tastes I trust, and she introduced me to Teresa and Diana, the proprietors of this distinctive establishment.

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Teresa and Diana have a richly deserved reputation among connoisseurs. Against all advice and dire warnings about going broke, the two women took over the tiny beachside kiosk almost a year ago and have turned it into mini-landmark along that busy beachfront stretching from St Kilda to Port Melbourne.

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True arancini are one of Sicily’s signature dishes, served especially as snacks; they are very popular at parties and social occasions. Sadly, arancini have been imitated and adulterated by people who don’t really appreciate just how rare and delicious they are when they are made properly. People often mistake suppli for arancinisuppli are Roman rice balls stuffed with cheese and ham.  Arancini are Sicilian and stuffed with a sugo (ragout) made with tomato, minced meat and peas, and cheese. In Sicily they usually use a provola cheese (stringy type), but Teresa who makes the arancini uses provolone. She was to send a recipe, but I think that she may be concerned that  other establishments (rather than home cooks) may use her recipe for profit.

Teresa and Diana have a richly deserved reputation among connoisseurs. Against all advice and dire warnings about going broke, the two women took over the tiny beachside kiosk almost a year ago and have turned it into mini-landmark along that busy beachfront stretching from St Kilda to Port Melbourne.

Not only do Teresa and Diana turn out brilliant arincini, Italian music, coffees and snacks – including Panini, lasagne, pasta and marinated olives – they seem to have created a charmed parking space along that busy parade. On one of my week-day visits to Café di Lido, right next to the kerbside tables, was parked a cute, canary yellow, Fiat Bambina. When the Bambina owner drove away (having lingered over a slow coffee and an arancino) a silver Masserati, whose owner had come from Catania a few years ago to be with his grandchildren, took the empty park. On my next visit there was another Bambina – this time a fiery, wannabe-Ferrari red. Before the driver left, he made sure that Teresa and Diana would reserve two arancini on the Saturday when he was returning with his wife – Teresa cannot make enough of them!

All of the drivers were regulars of the Caffé di Lido and it seemed like the charmed space was reserved for them. We should all be so lucky.

See: ARANCINI

 

2 thoughts on “ARANCINI, Rice Balls at Caffé di Lido”

  1. What a great story! And how fortunate that there are cooks amongst us willing to share their passion for good food and prepared to gamble with such an enterprise. It’s contributions like these that make a city’s food culture so interesting and varied. Bravo!

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