Travel black book: Sizzling Sicily

Travel black book: Sizzling Sicily

Who: Claire Wong, 50, joint artistic director of Checkpoint Theatre

Favourite destination: Sicily, Italy

Why: Its history, architecture, landscape and food are all amazing.

Best place to stay

Quartarella ( is a country bed and breakfast full of rustic charm, housed in a masseria, an old Sicilian farmhouse, near Modica in south-eastern Sicily.

The owners, Francesco and Francesca, make you breakfast every morning with an amazing variety of local pastries and eggs their hens have just laid.

Favourite restaurant

Ristorante L'Ancora ( on the tiny island of Ortigia, just off the city of Syracuse, for staggeringly good seafood - raw shrimp marinated in orange juice, oysters with green lemon, mussels, conches, taglioni with swordfish roe, capers and pine nuts - for about €10 to €20 (S$16 to S$32) a plate.

Favourite tourist siteThe Greek Theatre in Syracuse, built in 500BC when the city was the richest and most powerful state of classical Greece.

It's an open-air, semi-circular bowl cut into the hills that could seat 15,000 people. Works by all the major Greek playwrights were performed there. Aeschylus, an ancient Greek playwright, premiered three of his plays there.

For my husband, Huzir Sulaiman, and me, it was deeply moving and inspiring to be at one of the birthplaces of theatre, which, 2,500 years later, is still being used for summer theatre festivals.

As contemporary theatre-makers, we are a part of this lineage and it felt like returning home to the source.

Best souvenir

Bring home the food. A year later, we're still working through our haul: chocolate from Antica Dolceria Bonajuto ( in Modica, fresh hazelnuts, olive oil and Sicilian cheeses like caciocavallo.

Best breakfast

One exotic but utterly traditional Sicilian breakfast combination is granita with a brioche. You dip the brioche into the granita (typically a sorbet of fruit, nuts or chocolate) and eat.

Every town will have a cafe or two where you can get this. It's cold and sweet and an amazing way to begin the day.

Must-try dishes

One of Sicily's signature dishes is pasta con le sarde: pasta with tomato sauce, garlic, chilli, sardines and toasted breadcrumbs. When it's done well, as at the Taverna La Cialoma ( in the seaside town of Marzamemi, it has a superb depth of flavour and wonderful contrasting textures.

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