Friday, March 27, 2009

Comfort food in Catania

Its name is Cristaldi and although it is somewhat of an institution in Catania, it is a new discovery for me. No surprise there, for like most things about this place, it takes me time to find my own way. 

Cristaldi is a speciality market that carries international and hard to find food items, including an all American section. We're talking Aunt Jemima pancake mix, brown sugar and even cans of Campbell soup!

Here are some of the other highlights that caught my eye during my first visit.

The UK section: an impressive array of nice biscuts and real English tea. I was especially excited about the entire wall of loose leaf teas of all types.

The large Asian food section, including the full range of Indian spices. I was having a hard time just finding cumin up until now.

Unusual fresh produce: my hunt for cilantro (for my homemade guacamole fix) is what brought me here to begin with. I was very unlucky as it wouldn't be delivered until later that day. (See that picture above? That is what I am dreaming of making for my next meal. Recent attempts minus the cilantro just aren't doing it for me. I know I should just get some seeds and grow my own).  

What came home with me: Despite the lack of cilantro, I did not go home empty handed--brown sugar, corn tortillas, tobasco sauce, a small packet of cumin and walker's shortbread quickly filled my basket. 

And I finally found cream of tartar, not at Cristaldi but at the organic Bio market I've been shopping at for months in Catania! Some how I missed it all this time. Now I have to figure out a buttermilk substitute to make some scones. 


  1. Thanks, I have to check this place out! I always use a cup of plain yogurt when a recipe calls for buttermilk, and it always turns out great...

  2. Wait, I just checked out the map, this is the place I go! Didn't know the name?? I found the coconut milk for my coconut cake there! Great place to find legume also...

  3. cilantro is unavailable in crete - we dont use it in our cooking, but a lot of our economic migrant community do, and i am surprised it is taking a long time to get onto our shelves

  4. Grow our own. I used to grow that and rocket in the back yard when I lived in Xania. Also in Europe it is called coriander, cilantro is American.

  5. Do they have canned pumpkin as well? I must come up there and have a look! I've sometimes found cilantro in Ragusa, at Global Foods.

  6. What a find. I wish this was closer to us. Lidl (a German grocery chain in Italy) just had Mexican week. Good salsa and outstanding BBQ sauce sold as BBQ salsa. Thick sweet and goopy like Kraft BBQ sauce.

  7. Jill, thanks for the tip about the yogurt, and it doesn't surprise me that you arleady know this place!
    I agree M.K., why aren't such things easier to find?
    W.L., didn't see any pumpkin, but I wasn't looking for it. Next time I go I will and I'll let you know! If I ever make it to Ragusa I'll have to make a stop at Global Foods.
    Martha, lucky you for finding some good salsa!

  8. This sounds really interesting! I guess it's nice to find foods from your country when you are so far away....

  9. I've enjoyed reading your posts :) I found your page through Karen at "South of Rome". I must say, Cristaldi's is definitely a staple in our household. It's the asian foods and loose leaf teas that I enjoy!! I'm curious, in your post you mentioned a Bio/Organic Market?? Might I ask where it is located?!?

    Thanks :) Meagan

  10. Ciao!! Oh my do I ever understand about missing cilantro! I agree that it is a must for guacamole, and also for some Thai recipes I like to make. I didn't realize until I was digging through an Italian dictionary that cilantro was just the leaves of the coriander plant. A English friend here told me they call it green coriander in England. I am growing my own cilantro for the first time from seed this year, and it is going very well. I made salsa with cilantro for the first time yesterday. Yum! If you can't find seeds, just let me know.


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