Sicily, the biggest island in Italy and in the Mediterranean Sea, is well known for its food, with a richly textured culinary heritage including Arab, Greek, French, Spanish and North African as well as Italian influences.
And in September, it’s also the inspiration for Six by Nico’s new six-course tasting menu, which has been designed to encapsulate the tastes, shapes, scents and colours of Sicilian cuisine.
Born in Glasgow to Italian parents, chef Nico Simeone was raised in a family of Mediterranean foodies. His earliest memories are of his mother’s Italian cooking, helping her in the kitchen and large family meals around the table.
His latest menu is a gastronomic trip to Sicily, reminiscent of his time spent exploring the city of Palermo.
It starts with one of Sicily’s most famous street food dishes: arancini rice balls.
Chef Nico’s version of arancini with cacio é pepe and egg yolk jam come with red pepper and smoked mozzarella, spinach and gorgonzola and pickled walnut.
The next course is Sicilian lamb with aubergine caponata, olive tapenade and lemon gel, followed by a hazelnut ragu with saffron pappardelle pasta and aged Parmesan.
Seabass is next, with fregola Sarda (Sardinian pasta), cherry tomato puttanesca, a caper raisin dressing and crispy cavolo nero.
The final savoury dish uses pork for a porchetta salsiccia with pickled fennel, mostarda (a Northern Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard-flavoured syrup) and pistachio crumb.
To finish, there’s a classic Sicilian lemon tart with basil sablé biscuit, creme fraiche sorbet, red wine gel, crystallised pine nut and rosemary.
“From perfect porchetta to arancini, Sicilian food is world famous, but many will be very surprised by just how varied and diverse Sicily’s cuisine is – it’s a veritable melting pot of flavour,” says chef Nico.
“Whilst much of it is clearly Italian (there’s plenty of pastas, olive oils, wines and seafood), there are some commonly used ingredients that clearly stand out and this is what our guests at Six by Nico will discover on our new menu.
“In 2018, our team spent time on the Italian island soaking up the scenery and eating some of the best food in Europe.
“Raisins and saffron crop up in the island’s most famous dishes, and cooking techniques differ from those found on the mainland.
“We have brought our experiences back to the restaurants and we look forward to showcasing these inspirations with a flavour-filled menu.”
The Sicily menu will run from Monday 7th September to Sunday 18th October at Six by Nico, Spring Gardens. The menu will be priced from £29 per person with the option to add a wine and specialist drinks pairing for an additional £26. There is a vegetarian alternative available for every course.