|One of many gorgeous plates. To see them all, go to Next's Facebook banner photo.|
With Sicily, you are in the home of your Italian grandmother, if she's the mother of all cooking Sicilian grandmothers. Her food seems particularly well suited to the uniquely casual but educated and expert style of service that Next has developed and refined.
Our four antipasti: arancini, grilled artichokes, chick pea fritters and caponata could have made a meal. "Each household has its own version of caponata," explained the water. Our grandmother's was intensely sweet with tomato but had none of the condensed "red sauce" flavor that migrated to the U.S. Celery, capers, pine nuts and other vegetables joined the mix, each one still crisp. The artichokes had a soft center you dig out with a spoon.
|Gemelli with fresh anchovy, bread drumbs and dill|
|Arancini, rice balls stuffed with lamb|
|Swordfish with mint pesto|
|Chickpeas fried and mashed with romanesco broccoli|
|Pork shoulder with tomato sauce|
We were unable to do justice to either fish or meat courses and resorted to taking home leftovers, which Next generously accommodated. We greeted with pleasure and relief the sight of a small coupe of blood orange granita, the texture like snow, the flavor pure fruit.
|Erica Kast and granita|
|Slice of cassata, candied fruits|
|Cannoli, sweet fried ravioli, cookie|
Next's non-alcoholic pairings are well worth trying, and we had one of these and one wine pairing, sharing both. Most interesting was a green-tomato-celery-garlic-white pepper drink served with the fish. If only I could do it all over again!