Sicilian Wine and Food Experience and The Wine Depository

My next Sicilian cooking class will be:

Sicilian Wine and Food Experience, Thursday 1st October 7pm
An intimate event that will see you not only eat and drink in a Sicilian manner but learn as you go.

The event will be conducted by Phil Smith, owner and creator of The Wine Depository.


The Wine Depository is a Melbourne-based bespoke wine retailer and consultancy here to challenge how and when we drink wine. We offer a hand picked (and rigorously tested) range of wines to either enjoy now or tuck in the cellar. We’re known for rare and hard to find wines, lesser known varietals and smaller producers.

The Wine Depository and Phil provide:
Wine Cellar Advice
Wine Sales
Private Tastings
Corporate Wine Services
**Wine Events and Education
Sicilian Wine and Food Experience is one of these events.

From The Wine Depository’s website:
Phil knows that every time you taste a wine it is an event and it can be educational. He effortlessly brings these elements together in his wine tasting events, whether a casual tasting or a Masterclass over dinner. The emphasis is on good wines that will broaden your wine drinking knowledge or at the very least be extremely yummy. The Wine Depository often brings a knowledgeable and engaging speaker to take you through the wine selection.

Information on the Wine Depository’s website about Sicilian Wines

The Wine Depository

Sicilian Wine and Food Experience Event



Spring in Sicily is welcomed ‘big time’ and spring produce is embraced.

Marisa prepares artichoke 1

Sicilians make a fuss about the preparation and eating of seasonal spring produce: asparagus, artichokes, broad beans, fennel and ricotta. It is the time when the island comes alive – flowers bloom, vines sprout and vegetables ripen.

Pasta and greens with wine

The menu at Waratah Hills Vineyard  was a celebration of Spring, and all who attended the class enjoyed all of that produce and the occasion in such a beautiful vineyard.

Garfish fillets

We ate local garfish rolled around a Sicilian stuffing (commonly used for sardines called Beccafico),  stuffed artichokes and a pasta with a dressing made from sautéed spring vegetables, moistened with wine and stock and topped with nutmeg and creamy ricotta.

Carlo and Peter watch Marisa add stock

We drank excellent, matching wines with each course and used local, extra virgin olive oil made by Judy and Neil’s (proprietors of Waratah Hills Vineyard and organizers of this event) neighbours .


Cassata  of course was the final culinary jewel; I coated it with not-too-sweet marzipan…..and I have my tongue out in anticipation…(I do not know what I was saying!)

Marisa talks about cassata

A few dressed Sicilian Green olives at the start did not go astray (garlic, orange rind,  chilli flakes, wild fennel fronds, bay leaves, extra virgin olive oil) and a fennel and orange salad as a palate cleanser eaten after the fish was a good choice .

Marisa cooking fritedda close up

Thank you to all those eager and friendly people who made the event a success.

Judy and Marisa talking food

Waratah Hills Vineyard Wines:



ARTICHOKES from the growers

I collected 30 fresh artichokes from a grower in Werribee ….freshly picked.


To my kitchen bench….


Into a container…


To Waratah Hills Vineyard Tasting Room for a culinary event on Saturday 20th September 2014

I am so looking forward to it.

For recipes, use the search button on the blog and key in “artichokes”








CULINARY JEWELS OF SICILY – A Spring event at Waratah Hills Vineyard


On Saturday, 20 September 2014  I will be at Waratah Hills Vineyard conducting a lunch time masterclass of Sicilian cooking .

Waratah Hills Vineyard is located on the road to the iconic Wilsons Promontory National Park. It is one of the southern most vineyards on the Australian mainland. The cool, maritime climate wine region is acknowledged as one of the best Pinot Noir producing areas in Australia.

Waratah Wine & hills 1

The owners are Judy and Neil Travers. They have a  simple philosophy is to do everything possible to produce grapes of the highest quality. The artisan approach to detail involves hand picking by clones in small batches at just the right intensity of ripeness.

Waratah Wine & hills 2

Waratah Hills Vineyard was planted 17 years ago in the burgundy style of low trellising and close planting.

It is a beautifully sited vineyard with two acres of Chardonnay planted on a north south slope and seven acres of Pinot Noir separated by a band of trees into two distinctly different areas of the property.

In 2012 Judy and Neil Travers we were delighted to receive the Victorian Tourism Minister’s Encouragement Award for New and Emerging Tourism Businesses.

Waratah Wine & hills 4
This is the information on the flyer:

Culinary jewels of Sicily

On Saturday, 20 September Waratah Hills Vineyard is hosting a lunch time masterclass of Sicilian cooking conducted by Marisa Raniolo Wilkins.

Marisa has written two books on Sicilian cooking; Sicilian Seafood Cooking and Small Fishy Bites.

She is a vivacious fusion of cultures and experience. Her food is very much driven by a curiosity of exploring her cultural origins. The recipes and ingredients of Sicily reflect the influences of the Mediterranean from ancient times to the modern day.

Born in Sicily and raised in Trieste before migrating to Australia with her parents, she regularly visits her extended family in Italy and Sicily; each visit adding to her knowledge of first-hand wonderful food experience.

Places are limited for this hands on three-course cooking, eating and drinking experience at $120 per head. Course notes and recipes are provided for you to take home.

Marisa portrait 2

The 20th September is in Spring and the menu will feature Spring produce and recipes.

I hope to see you there.

What could be better than a very pleasant experience in this beautiful  part of the world!

Check out their wines – you will not be disappointed:

Waratah Hills Winery





AGGHIOTTA DI BACCALA` IN BIANCO La Trobe in the City – Ancient Mediterranean Lecture Series, Christmas

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 4.59.26 PM

Food And Culture in Sicily: Christmas Cookery Workshop, 7 December 2013

Presented by Dr Gillian Shepherd and Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

Gillian began the presentation with short history of food and feasting in Sicily.  Gillian focused on the literary and archaeological evidence for food production and consumption in the ancient world of Sicily with particular emphasis on festivals, sacrifice and feasting (i.e. pagan “versions’ of Xmas). She described how in ancient times the ordinary people only got to eat meat as the result of sacrificial offerings to the gods (the gods  inhaled the smoke and aromas as the sheep and goats, and less often cattle, were roasted).

Using our dining room wall as a screen, Gillian projected images of temples and townships, altars and cooking implemenents and a map of Sicily to clarify and enrich the presentation. She also showed the guests examples of formelle from her personal collection. Formelle are special, handmade ceramic moulds that were traditionally used to make decorative mostarda (must and ash paste) and cotognata (quince paste, I provided the recipe). Gillian is a compulsive collector of formelle and was able to tell me about a formella that I have inherited from my paternal Sicilian grandmother.


For my presentation, I talked about the similarities and differences between the ancient recipes recorded by  Archestratus and Apicius and what are now traditional Sicilian recipes. The menu I selected for this event reflected the development of the recipes and methods used from the ancient world into the Sicilian recipes, the influences of the seasons, religion and culture of Sicily, which in the course of 3,000 years has layered Christianity over Islam and Roman, Greek and more ancient religions.

As the theme of the presentation was Christmas cookery, I focussed on fish and vegetables since Sicilians observe the Catholic rituals of Advent, which involves a month of fasting. The Christmas meal for Sicilians happens on Christmas eve, when they traditionally eat fish. Gillian helped explain the connection between fish and Christ, referencing the Greek word for fish, icthos, which in the early christian era was the symbol most more closely identified with Christ than the cross and whose letters were used as an acrostic, to spell out in Greek, Jesus Christ Son of God, Saviour.

Snapper dressed - ready to cook @ 300 above

This is my third Workshop organised by The Ancient Mediterranean Studies at La Trobe University.

The Menu:

  • Baked ricotta and marinaded black olives
  • Lentils and chicory soup with a soffritto of garlic and parsley (chili optional)
  • Soused fish with vinegar, garlic and mint
  • Baccalà cooked in bianco with olives and capers, parsley, garlic and potatoes
  • Baked fish inserted with anchovies and marinaded in red onion, lemon, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil
  • Fish balls with pine nuts and dried grapes (muscatels)
  • Asparagus dressed with oil and vinegar
  • Green salad; endive, chicory, frisse,  batavia /roman lettuce and cos lettuce
  • Cuccia (to honour Saint Lucy, patron Saint of Syracuse, mid December)
  • Buccello (bucciddatu in Sicilian), a round ciambella (ring-shaped cake) eaten at Christmas with a stuffing of dried fruits and nuts enclosed in crumbly, short pastry. This was made by pastrychef Marianna from Dolcetti.

We drank Sicilian Wine: Marsala fino, Grillo, Nero d’Avola and Zibbibo,


Some guests did not eat fish and they were presented: Zucchini in agro-dolce (pinenuts and currants, vinegar and sugar), Tomato salad with feta, Potatoes alla pizzaiola (black olives, oregano, garlic and tomato). These vegetables were unknown before the discovery of the American continent (Christopher Columbus in 1492)

Marisa discusses polenta spoons

Baccalà is traditionally eaten on Christmas eve in Sicily. The ingredients are sufficient for a main meal for 4 people.

A common Sicilian  method of cooking food is ‘alla ghiotta’and it usually contains green olives, capers and celery. Stockfish or Baccalà alla ghiotta in bianco is cooked without tomato and is more commonly cooked in the winter months –culinary term, white — with little seasoning and definitely without tomato.

The cod can usually be bought from Italian or Spanish supermarkets. You need to begin preparations at least two day before. Some salt cod is pre-soaked by the vendors beforehand, so it is best to ask about this when you buy it.

AGGHIOTTA DI BACCALA` IN BIANCO (Baccalà ALLA GHIOTTA and IN BIANCO) Recipe from Sicilian Seafood Cooking

Soak the fish to remove the salt.
Rinse any excess salt off the cod, then put it into a large bowl and cover with cold water.
Leave to soak in the fridge for 3 days, changing the water three to four times a day.
Cut any fins or tails off the cod pieces and remove any obvious bones.

Baccala while soaking


stock fish or baccalà , 1.2kg
extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup
celery heart, 2-3 pale green stalks and leaves, chopped
onion, 1 large, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
parsley, 4 tablespoons, cut finely
green olives, 1 cup, pitted, chopped
capers, ½ cup salted variety, soaked and washed
potatoes, 500g peeled and cut into large chunks


Cut the soaked cod into pieces about 10cm in length.
For la ghiotta:
Add the celery and onion to hot, extra virgin olive oil. Use a pan large enough to accommodate all of the ingredients, and cook until softened (about 5 minutes). Stir frequently to cook evenly.
Reduce the heat to medium; add the capers, olives, parsley and stir well.
Add freshly ground pepper, stir, and cook for about 10 minutes to blend the flavours.
Place the fish in the vegetables (preferably in a single layer) and spoon some of the vegetables over it. Add about ½ cup of water (or wine, optional).
Reduce the heat to very low – the fish should not be stirred or it will flake. Cover, and cook for about 35 minutes before adding chunks of potatoes.
Add 1–2 cups of water and leave undisturbed to cook, but occasionally adding a little more water to keep the ingredients moist and until the fish and potatoes are cooked to your liking.
This dish is always served hot, but can easily be reheated; the flavours improve if cooked beforehand.
Marisa shows salad to Gillian & American

Gillian Shepherd
Dr Gillian Shepherd is Lecturer in Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Director of the A.D. Trendall Research Centre for Ancient Mediterranean Studies at La Trobe University.Gillian studied Classics and Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne before going on to complete a PhD in Classical Archaeology at Trinity College, Cambridge, followed by a research fellowship at St Hugh’s College, Oxford.

Until her recent return to Australia to take up her position at La Trobe University, Gillian was Lecturer in Classical Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, UK. Her research interests are the ancient Greek colonisation of Sicily and Italy, burial customs, and the archaeology and art of Greece and Magna Graecia.




Small Fishy Bites

Cooking Class with Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

Friday 22nd November 2013

Mercato 625-627 Lower North East Road, Campbelltown SA 5074  | ph. 08 8337 1808  | fax. 08 8337 8024  | 

 small_fishy_bites_high res

The Menu and Wine list


Spuntino platter (a selection of smallgoods)

Tomato and Gorgonzola salad

We Drank:

Martinez Marsala Superiore Secco

Variety – Pinot Bianco

Recognised as one of the master producers of Pinot Bianco, this single vineyard ‘entry level’ comes from vines of an average age of 25 years. The soil (100% calcaric) and the elevation (600m above sea level) lend themselves towards this most impressive, full flavoured Pinot Bianco Marsala of finesse.

Jay & Alana dress scallops close up


Scallops wrapped in prosciutto

White anchovy and oven-dried tomato leaf boats

Fish balls in a tomato salsa (pine nuts and sun-dried grapes)


We Drank:

Tenuta di Fessina “Nakone” Chardonnay

Variety – Chardonnay

From a vineyard 700m above sea level, Nakone Chardonnay is a reflection of its site as well as the variety. It doesn’t have the richness of typical Sicilian Chardonnay, & carries a racy structure typical of a wine from vineyards grown high up on lean soil. Yellow green, with persistent fresh fruit, its palate is bright, briney & fresh in its youth, which ages well over some years.



Harry pours wine

Main course

Fish fillets rolled around a herb stuffing cooked in dry marsala

Italian grilled prawns with a fried breadcrumb and herb garnish (garlic, pine nuts, parsley)

Green leaf salad with fennel and oranges

Marisa and diners

We Drank:

Tenuta di Fessina “Ero” Nero d’Avola 

Variety – Nero d’Avola

Ero Nero d’Avola is Fessina entry level red, and the 3 most non-nonsense wine they make. Fermented in stainless and then taken out immediately after fermentation, its bottle aged for only three months before being sold. This is true, chubby, plumy Sicilian red wine, morello cherry, blackberry and spice, with a fresh and juicy palate with great acidity and length.





Zuppa Inglese made with Strega (rather than Alchermes liqueur)

We Drank:

Martinez Malvasia “Laus”

Grape: Malvasia

Region: Sicilia

What a fascinating & intense wine this is, with its note of spirit, orange, raisin/muscat fruit and nutmeg spicy finish. A beautifully shaped fortified/sweetie, which slowly dries right through to tingling finish.


Zuppa Inglese close up 



My second book, Small Fishy Bites, was released by New Holland on 1 October 2013.

To mark the occasion, on the evening before, friends joined me for a celebratory dinner at the Moat Bar and Cafe in Little Lonsdale Street below the Wheeler Centre.


The Moat was the perfect place to launch the book, enjoy excellent food and wine – a brilliant match for the occasion.

Thanks to all my friends who enjoy eating and cooking fish and whose contributions have enlarged my repertoire of recipes.

Below, photo shoot in my apartment.


Food photography by Sue Stubbs, styling by Jodi Wuesterwald.


Getting a chance to look in….most unusual as I spent the majority of time cooking.


Printed media

From: The Australian  Michelle Rowe: Food Detective, October 05, 2013 12:00AM

I took the following comment by Michelle Rowe to be a positive rather than a negative and I appreciated being mentioned in her weekly column.

She praises Sicilian Seafood Cooking and for this I am pleased. And there is a hint that in spite of its title, Small Fishy Bites could be OK.

DETECTIVE accepts that with so many cookbooks out these days, it may be difficult to think up a title that has not already been claimed, but she wonders whether anybody could have fixed upon a less-inviting moniker than Small Fishy Bites? She trusts the new book from Marisa Raniolo Wilkins, who also wrote the very good Sicilian Seafood Cooking, holds more promise than its distinctly fishy title.

Equiem, online portal, Melbourne cookbook author gives Friday night fish ‘n chips the boot, Bronwyn Eager, October 2013

Oh Yum Magazine, New Zealand

The Victorian Writer, Food and Wine, Voices: Bring to the boil, Simmer slowly, Marisa Raniolo Wilkins, November 2013

Yorke Peninsula, Country Times ,  Yorke Peninsula Seafood in Cookbook, Wendy Burman, 22 October 2013


Cooking Class at Mercato, Adelaide, 22 November,










Small Fishy Bites celebrates the diversity and versatility of seafood. These recipes recognize the popularity of serving small helpings with easy, casual and varied dishes.

Small morsels are convivial fare that can be shared at social gatherings or as an accompaniment to drinks. They are an easy and pleasant way to sample a range of flavors without the commitment to one entrée or the different courses.

Small Fishy Bites is my second book. Some of you may be familiar with my first book Sicilian Seafood Cooking which  includes 120 traditional Sicilian recipes for fish and its many accompaniments – first, second course dishes, sauces and contorni (side dishes).


The recipes in Small Fishy Bites reflect reflect the widening repertoire of cuisines we are exposed to in Australia, especially the Asian and Mediterranean flavors, especially Italian. In the above class at Mercato the emphasis will traditional Italian style antipasto – small fishy bites cuisine, accompanied by wine.

For convenience sake the menu for the cooking class has been divided into Starters, Entrées and Mains, but all the easily prepared dishes can be presented for any course – only the quantities may vary.

Some of the recipes from the book sampled on the night will be:

Scallops wrapped in prosciutto
White anchovy & sundried tomato leaf boats
Fish balls in a tomato salsa
Fish fillets rolled around a herb stuffing
Italian grilled prawns with a fried breadcrumb & herb garnish

Hope to see some of you at this event.

625-627 Lower North East Road, Campbelltown , SA
Ph: 0883371808



MERCATO 625-627 Lower North East Road Campbelltown, SA. Sicilian Cooking class, Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

La Cucina 

Tradizionale Siciliana 

Marisa Raniolo Wilkins
625 – 627 Lower North East Road Campbelltown SA ph: 08 8337 1808 fax: 08 8337 8024 e: book online:


About Marisa Raniolo Wilkins…

Like a true Sicilian, Marisa Raniolo Wilkins is a lively fusion of cultures and experience. She was born to Sicilian parents in Ragusa, but she spent her childhood in the far northeast of Italy in the famous port city of Trieste, where her parents had met. In her summer holidays Marisa would travel to Sicily to visit her relatives. This was where Marisa learnt about food and cooking from her Sicilian relatives.

“My mother always told me that my father’s family knew nothing about cooking, but it was my father’s sisters who were some of my greatest inspirations in the kitchen,” Marisa says.

Marisa and her family migrated to Australia in the late-1950s and settled in Adelaide, not far from where Imma and Mario established Mercato. Growing up in Adelaide, Marisa always kept in touch with Sicily and maintained her interest in flavours and ingredients.

Over the years she has travelled to Sicily many times to visit her extended family, adding to her store of first-hand experience with every visit. Marisa enjoyed a successful career as a teacher and educationist in South Australia before moving to Melbourne in early 2002.

As she was getting settled in Melbourne, and in between jobs, Marisa rediscovered her passion for writing and her ambition to write a book about Sicilian cuisine and to document some of the classic, local Sicilian dishes cooked by her grandmothers and aunties and food that she has eaten throughout the island of Sicily. The result, eight years later, is her book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking, published by New Holland in November 2011.


Photos courtesy of Bob Evans 

Modern takes on traditional Sicilian dishes. Although Sicily is not a large Island, the cuisine varies considerably from region to region.
In this food workshop & cooking demonstration Marisa Raniolo Wilkins, author of the book Sicilian Seafood Cooking, will prepare and demonstrate the ways Sicilian cuisine has been shaped and influenced by the dominant cultures of the Mediterranean from the ancient times to the modern day, which includes Greek, Roman, Arabic, French and Spanish cultures.Marisa will share her experience in the kitchen and her love of Sicilian Cuisine.

When you go to Sicily, you must eat Caponata & you may have thought that eggplants are the main ingredient. Marisa will make different caponate
(plural of caponata) which feature different
ingredients that reflect the seasons.
Paired with 2011 Tavignano Verdicchio Villa Torre


Pasta alla Norma
Pasta alla Norma is a traditional dish from Catania.
In modern restaurants & kitchens it is now presented in a variety of creative ways that reflect the inevitable fusions of cuisines across the world. Marisa will prepare different variations of the dish that she experienced in her recent trip to Sicily, including some that use fish.
Paired with 2009 Baglio Curatolo Nero d’Avola, SicilyCucciaYou will also experience a modern version of a very ancient dessert called Cuccia that has deep-rooted religious and seasonal associations.
Paired with 2010 Etna Rosso Erse, Sicily

When: Friday 12th July 2013

Where: at Mercato in the demo kitchen
625-627 Lower North East Road
Campbelltown SA

Tickets: $120 per person
This class starts at 6.30pm and runs for approximately 3 hours and includes detailed recipe notes, delicious food matched with a tasting of Italian wine and informative, fun conversation.
We also offer all guests 10% discount on any purchases made in-store on the evening
This class has a limit of 16 people.



La Trobe in the City is designed for anyone with an interest in history, literature and / or ancient cultures.


Click on the link bellow for full details of the Lecture Series.

This is one of the workshops offered as part of the lecture series.

Details of the workshop:

Saturday 23 March, 11.00am–3.00pm
Institute for Advanced Study, La Trobe University
Melbourne campus (Bundoora)

Presented by Gillian Shepherd and Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

Cost: $115 (full), $105 (discount)
Registration census date: Friday 15 March

This session will commence with a lecture on the history of food and feasting in Sicily, Italy and the Mediterranean.

Gillian Shepherd will focus on the literary and archaeological evidence for food production and consumption in the ancient world.

This will be accompanied by a food workshop.


Yesterday I visited La Trobe University at Bundoora to check out the venue and finalise the recipes for a demonstration/cooking class I am giving as part of the university’s lecture series on the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean.

The food that I’ll be talking about and cooking for the class reflects the ways Sicilian cuisine has been influenced by the dominant cultures of the Mediterranean from ancient times to the modern day, which includes Greek, Roman, Arabic, French and Spanish cultures.

Some of the recipes will be from my book Sicilian Seafood Cooking.

Since my cooking demonstration is planned for the weekend before Easter, it was natural to select some foods that would be prepared in Sicily at Easter, which is one of the most significant times of the year for Sicilians. Whether they were ruled by Greeks or Romans, Arabs or Spaniards, Easter in Sicily marks the start of Spring and a time of celebration.

It should be a very interesting session and I hope to see you there.

About Gillian Shepherd:
Dr Gillian Shepherd is Lecturer in AncientMediterranean Studies and Director of the A.D. Trendall Research Centre for Ancient Mediterranean Studies at La Trobe University.

Gillian studied Classics and Fine Arts at theUniversity of Melbourne before going on to complete a PhD in Classical Archaeology at Trinity College, Cambridge, followed bya research fellowship at St Hugh’s College,Oxford.
Until her recent return to Australia to take up her position at La!Trobe University, Gillian was Lecturer in Classical Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, UK.

Her research interests are the ancient Greek colonisation of Sicily and Italy, burial customs,and the archaeology and art of Greece and Magna Graecia.