Straight from the Etna slopes: tabacchiere peach ice-cream
Etna, Sicily's largest volcano, gives us wonderful products, all year round. Chestnuts, pistachios, wine, honey, mushroom, are all fantastic gifts of its untamed nature in the South-East of Sicily. One of these Mongibello's pearls is a special kind of peach, Pesca Tabacchiera (Donut peach) grown on the Etna slopes.
The history of peach trees on the volcano is not ancient history but it is nonetheless an interesting story involving barons, dukes and their estates. Or better, the story of the end of their feudal privilege. In large estates, in fact, cultivating trees was forbidden by the owners who were after the revenues of annual crops. It was only after lthe and reform, in the aftermath of WWII, that annual crops begia to be replaced by perennial crops.
On this front, the administrators of an important historical estate, the Duchy of Maniace in Bronte donated in 1799 by Ferdinand to the English Admiral Horatio Nelson, were particularly active, implementing these changes and experimenting with trees in the estate.
The experiment was a real success as well-drained volcanic soils, abundant water and high temperature gave, and still give, high quality products, including the wonderful yellow or white flesh tabacchiere peaches (Donut peaches) which found on Etna an ideal habitat.
Most famous towns of production are Adrano, Biancavilla, Bronte, Maniace in the Catania area, and Mojo Alcantara and Roccella Valdemone near Messina.
They are particularly renown for the intensity of the bouquet, sweet taste and softness pulp and I usually find them perfect as they are, a simple magnificent fruit. Today, I had fun with them and made a delicate wonderful Tabacchiera peach and mint ice-cream, just perfect for the Sicilian heat of the past few days.