Shades of Orange – Sicilian Gold

Sometimes, you’ve just got to eat your way through an orange grove worth of luscious, vitamin-c rich oranges to get through the winter.

I am so happy to see the back of January – the bluest month of the year. February has a couple things going for it and one of those is undoubtedly the Italian orange season, particularly those grown in the cradle of citrus – Sicily.

Sicily Orange

Yesterday for dinner we ate a deliciously heavy dish of handmade gnocchi with Alfredo and pancetta. It really was divine. But what sort of dessert can you possibly fit in to follow a main like that? The answer is of course citrus.

After a heavy winter meal I often peel a bowl full of oranges and then segment half and cut rounds of the other to create a simple dish of plentiful citrus. It’s a boost of vitamin c and helps the stomach digest, especially all that starch, butter and cheese we happily gorged ourselves on last night.

Blood Orange, Navelina, Blush Orange

Having oranges like this reminds my of my honeymoon, where my husband and I stayed at an old monastery turned boutique hotel in the foothills of Mount Etna in Sicily. The Monaci delle Terre Nere sits smack dab in the middle of an eco bio farm and orange grove lined with rows of different varieties of orange you can simply pick and eat (with permission of course). There are Navelina, Blood and Blush oranges, even one called Vanilla. The top photo in this post is apparently a Tangelo – a cross between a tangerine and pomelo. Just amazing. I also counted at least 5 types of Blood and Blush orange alone just walking through the grove. These photographs are from the early spring, but the real season starts in February.

Siciliy Orange Grove , Monaci Delle Terre Nere

We are so used to eating the over-popular navel variety that it’s hard to believe how many others there are out there, so if you ever get the chance please remember Sicily in February. Either go there to eat these amazing fruits or venture to your local farmer’s market and spend the extra coins to discover what they have. You won’t be disappointed.

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