When I got back from Lampedusa, I made a final visit to Porto Empedocle before heading for Caltanissetta. I may have been a bit intemperate about Porto Empedocle in a past blog. I don’t think it will ever be a place of beauty, but if I’d spent a little time on the vast expanse of beach running from the town to the extraordinary cliff face of Scala dei Turchi, or a discovered La Rustichela, my earlier reactions might have been more measured.
A final visit to Porto Empedocle before heading for Caltanissetta.La Rustichella, as made at the Cafe Elisir, really was a thing of beauty. It’s a smaller version of La Torta Rustica. The pastry was ineffably light and crumbly, with that hidden richness produced by using strutto – pig fat – in the pastry. The base of the filling was chocolate, not too dark, but not milky. Above that was a billowing cushion of curdy ricotta, sheeps’ ricotta very specifically. The top was set with toasted almonds, with a faint edge of burnt bitterness and plosive crunch. And they were dusted, perfumed rather, with ground pistachios.
Crunch, munch, crumble, cream, sweetness, balm, beauty, and seduction – they’re all there.
And that is my last word about Porto Empedocle.