A few months ago, I went by my day as usual: woke up, lazed around in the bed just a little more, got up slowly, put the kettle on and turned on my computer. And there it was. An email in my inbox asking if I would be interested in a certain baking competition that was to take place in a Sicilian town called Piana degli Albanesi. In a second, I was wide awake and wanted to jump around from happiness! The man responsible was Francesco Mangiapane, one of the authors for Burek Eaters, who recommended me to the organizers and I can not thank him enough! So, my friend Sanja and I started to pack our bags…
Cannoli & Friends take place in a lovely town Piana Degli Albanesi near Palermo. Town is famous for it’s cannolis and many people told us they’re best in whole Italy. They also told us their secret – they fry them in pork fat!
For the competition we were supposed to make a dessert from our country and we chose Vasa’s cake – an all time favorite in many Serbian homes. My mother used to make this cake so often that about 10 years ago everybody got sick up with it and she just stopped making it. Somehow, it seemed as a logical choice for this occasion
We got a whole Aura pastry shop for ourselves to make our 8 cakes. It was kind of strange working with the pro’s equipment. Spatulas the size of an arm, mixer taller than me… Thank God their great staff was there to help us
We stayed there deep into the night, eating the real Sicilian pizza and drinking their homemade limoncello. Aaah, life is good
The next day people from the Feedback agency that organizes the event took us for regional wine sampling and an amazing dinner at the Antica Stazione Ferroviaria di Ficuzza, the restaurant in an old mansion deep in the countryside.
Chef Saverio Patti prepared 17 course meal using local foods and all that was accompanied with an outstanding selection of wines by local producers.
What you see on the left is Lo sfincionello, something like pizza, but it only has tomato sauce on top and on the right are grilled sausage with almonds, veal rolls with pesto and aromatic potatoes.
Suckling lamb roll and grilled cheese with black honey and red wine reduction seasoned with cinnamon.
Bread with fresh ricotta and olive oil and pistachio and ricotta mousse.
And now, on to the event itself. Here we are with our Vasa’s cake.
Team from Turkey. National baklava champions from the Karaköy Güllüoglu pastry shop. Best baklava ever if you ask me!
Girls from Bosnia and Hercegovina, Sabina Pandžić and Đana Glibanović and their winning tufahijas.
Francesco and Biljana who represented Macedonia with delicious ravanija.
Even though we were there for two days only, it really felt like at least a week, as we spent every free second exploring the town with its very generous and friendly people, tasting and shopping for typical food products and just enjoying the experience and the beautiful countryside, really.
It was an honor to participate and represent our country in this sweet way. All I have left to say now is that this short visit to Piana degli Albanesi left us craving it some more, so I am already making plans to go back there some time in the future and spend that time there reliving the memories of the immaculately organized competition, taking in the spirit of the place and stuffing my face in that glorious food again !