Ortygia is a small island, first inhabited by the Greeks, that is the historical center of the city of Siracusa on the southeast coast of Sicily. Many of the streets are narrow and only navigable by foot. But for our purposes, Ortygia is the name of Chef Gaetano’s Sicilian restaurant in Bradenton, Florida, named after his father’s birthplace. We are here because Ortygia draws Chef like a magnet, and we are in tow.
The first stop is at the local market, a boisterous, fun experience of tented food stalls and Sicilian shouting from vendors hawking their products. Chef’s like a kid in a candy store, and we are his ducklings in tow.
Chef buys bags of food and we taste, getting morsels of foodie information as we stroll under the tents in the blocks-long market (we later picnic by the sea, and must ask a nearby yacht for a corkscrew). And then we duck into a fish vendor. Chef greets one of the fishmongers in Italiano and the guy reaches for his acoustic guitar. Chef’s been here before. He whips out his harmonica and blues is reborn on the Sicilian coast. Then Ted, one of our fellow travelers (10 of us traveling in Sicily with Gaetano, our Florida chef) breaks into song and another fish monger joins in on tambourine. What a morning!