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Christmas gifts: Marco Failla's advice – Italian Cuisine

Christmas gifts: Marco Failla's advice

Three original ideas to make delicious last minute Christmas gifts at home: a chocolate mosaic, a pistachio liqueur and the typical Sicilian scaccio, reinterpreted by the talented Palermo cake designer

There are now a few days to go Christmas and, like every year, the hunt for last minute gift. An original idea is that of realize at home greedy edible gifts, following the advice of Marco Failla: «Giving a gift prepared with your own hands, says the Sicilian cake designer and food stylist, «is a way to make those who receive it feel special. At Christmas we all go back to being a bit children and something sweet is always welcome, especially if well presented and decorated ".

Three original ideas to do at home

The first proposal is a creamy liqueur based on Bronte pistachio, the green gold of Sicily, to be destined for a special person. "You will like it so much", says Marco, "that it will surely enter your secret recipe book". Another idea is the white chocolate mosaic, a large and colorful bar enriched with dried and candied fruit: "2020 was a busy year for everyone and we need comfort food, like this beautiful mosaic tablet to give as a gift, knotted with an elegant Burgundy ribbon and a gold hammer to break it in an emergency. ' The latest proposal, on the other hand, is inspired by an indelible childhood memory of Marco, the cinnamon scent of the Christmas stalls: "As a child, praline almonds were a little obsession of mine and I wanted to propose them in a" scaccio "version or the dried fruit of the Sicilian tradition, with the addition of cinnamon, my favorite spice .
For all the recipes Failla has used ingredients from its own land: pistachios, candied oranges, walnuts and above all almonds. "On one of my last trips to discover the hidden realities of Sicily, I met the Mandranova company, in the province of Agrigento, and I immediately appreciated the quality of its almonds (in particular the Tuono varieties, with a perfect and golden shape, and genco, with a full and decisive flavor), so much so that it is now one of the favorite ingredients for my creations .

Marco Failla's recipes

Chocolate mosaic (to break)


700 g of fine tempered white chocolate
Dried fruit and candied fruit to taste to compose the design


Use a pan, making sure to line it with baking paper. The chocolate is tempered and poured into the pan and after waiting a few minutes you can gently place the chosen ingredients. Alternative to using the pan: repeat the same procedure with a sheet of baking paper. Compose the mosaic according to your taste and then, as soon as the chocolate has solidified, break the chocolate fragments to be placed in individual sachets. In this way you will have many little thoughts or gifts at the end of the dinner.

Bronte pistachio elixir

Ingredients (for about 1 liter)

500 ml of whole milk
200 g of sugar
100 ml of alcohol at 95 °
Bronte pistachio paste
1/2 empty vanilla bean or half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
A pinch of salt


For the pistachio paste: put the shelled pistachios in a bowl with warm water and leave to rest for a couple of hours. Drain and rub with a cloth to remove the outer skin. Toast the pistachios for 15 minutes in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Subsequently, the pistachios must dry, for a day, in an airy and dry place. Put the pistachios in a blender with a spoonful of sweet almond oil. Operate the blender at maximum power for a few seconds, turn off and mix the pistachios with a spatula. Repeat the operation in several intervals to prevent the blades from heating up, this would prevent the pistachios from releasing their natural oil. Repeat until you get a homogeneous paste (even with a few grains will do the same). For the liqueur: in a saucepan bring milk, sugar, vanilla, pistachio paste and salt to the boil, stirring during the process. As soon as it reaches a boil, turn it off and let it cool completely. Once the mixture has cooled, add the alcohol, mixing with a whisk. Pour the liqueur obtained into the bottles. The liqueur should be kept in the fridge.

Scaccio praline


200 g of scaccio (pistachios, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds)
200 g of granulated sugar
80 g of water
A teaspoon of cinnamon
The tip of a teaspoon of red food coloring


Select dried fruit with skin. Pour the water, sugar and food coloring into a non-stick pan and, over medium heat, allow the sugar to dissolve slightly in the water, then add the almonds. Stir occasionally with a wooden ladle. When the sugar is completely dissolved and starts to boil, stir more frequently. As the water evaporates, the almonds will tend to join together. When the sugar becomes solid again and the almonds are all separated from each other, add the cinnamon, remove the pan from the heat and put the almonds to cool in a baking tray lined with parchment paper. When they have cooled, place in a glass jar to decorate as you like.

12 designer delicatessens where to shop (and Christmas gifts) – Italian Cuisine

12 designer delicatessens where to shop (and Christmas gifts)

A selection of the best food shops in the Sicilian capital, historical and new generation, to support the local economy

Places that resist the changes in society and pass on long family traditions over time, but also innovative formats created by starred chefs and young entrepreneurs to promote the products of the Sicilian agri-food chain. Without forgetting those who decide to bet everything on technology and organic. We are talking about the historic and new generation food shops in Palermo, small virtuous realities founded on the direct and transparent relationship between those who produce and those who consume. For the readers, we have selected 12 designer delicatessens in the Sicilian capital (not a ranking) where you can shop and get Christmas gifts.

Armetta gastronomy since 1926

Historic neighborhood shop opened in 1926 by Totò Armetta, in the Piana dei Colli di Palermo, once rich in lush citrus groves and majestic eighteenth-century villas. At Armetta you could find a bit of everything, not just food. After the 1960s, the business moved to its current location, obtained from an old San Lorenzo tavern. Today, Angelo (known as Gino) is run together with his wife Teresa and daughter Annamaria: their gastronomy is a point of reference for lovers of good food, who come from every corner of the city and beyond. Many Sicilian specialties to try, including the delicious Nebrodi raw ham and rare cheeses such as Majorcan, tuma persa and sheep's milk ricotta, the latter particularly popular with regulars. There are also excellent products from Italy (Vittorio Beltrami's cheeses) and from abroad (giraldo cod) and an entire section dedicated to traditional regional sweets. Armetta Gastronomy is partner of the university course in Agro-Food Sciences and Technologies and regularly hosts in-depth workshops for students and enthusiasts. In view of Christmas, Gino and Teresa dispense recipes and useful tips on how to compose personalized gift boxes, preferring products from the short supply chain to support, this year more than ever, the local economy. Home deliveries in the city and shipments throughout Italy by calling 328 9888019.

Via dei Quartieri 6 – www.gastronomiaarmetta.it

La Drogheria del Buongusto

In 2012 Toti Ballotta, together with his wife Katia, decided to open a grocery store in the elegant Libertà district in the "living room of Palermo". A successful bet, as evidenced by the appreciation of the most demanding Palermitans, certain of being able to find the best selection of French and Swiss cheeses from all over the city in this gourmet shop: Selles-sur-cher, Roquefort, Sainte-Maure de Touraine, Comté and tome d’alpeggio. And then fine Italian cured meats and a large cellar with about 900 references from around the world. The restaurant is spread over three adjoining rooms, all overlooking via Garzilli: at the entrance there are the wine shop and the shelves with the different products, from this you access the delicatessen counter, while on the opposite side there is the small room where customers can sit down for lunch. Do not miss (when it will be allowed again) the aperitif, with rich platters of cheeses and cold cuts accompanied by a good glass of red wine. For Christmas 2020, Toti and Katia's advice is to give a basket with a Sicilian artisan panettone and Etna bubbles. Home deliveries in the city and shipments to the rest of Italy.

Via Nicolò Garzilli 31

Raricella 1869

Historical sign that has its roots at the end of the nineteenth century: originally born as a timber and colonial shop, over the years Raricella has become, thanks to the far-sighted vision of its owners, a food and wine shop of the highest quality. In a difficult year like 2020, Nino Ganguzza decides to make a change to the historic restaurant in Portella di Mare, near Palermo. Today, the new formula includes three proposals: in the center of the room the large counter where the ancient tradition of the family charcuterie is perpetuated and where it is possible to buy the best cuts of meat, Sicilian and Italian meats and cheeses ( capocollo, Patanegra lard, cooked black pork, sheep ricotta and Beppino Occelli's Toma Monte Regale), offered at honest and competitive prices. In the same room, completely renovated, there are also tables for those who want to stop and taste the dishes of the bistro. The novelty of this year is the gourmet restaurant, housed in a room with a more intimate atmosphere, to taste the inviting proposals of chef Walter Sanfilippo. In these days, when the invitation to citizens is to limit travel, the delivery service has been enhanced, including Sunday lunch, a timeless ritual for every Sicilian doc.

Via Nazionale 6 (Portella di Mare) – www.raricella.it

G Cheeses

A real temple for lovers of Sicilian cheeses and in particular of Palermo's caciocavallo. With its seventy years of activity, G Formaggi has been included by the cultural association The Paths of Treasures in the list of historic shops in the Sicilian capital. The G indicates the initial of the surname Garofalo, the family that has managed it continuously and with great passion since 1948. This small deli is located in Corso Camillo Finocchiaro Aprile, better known by the people of Palermo as Corso Olivuzza, and is frequented by many loyal customers at any time of the day. The flagship product is precisely the caciocavallo, one of the oldest cheeses in Sicily, made from Cinisara cow's milk, a native breed. Once you cross the threshold, your attention is immediately captured by the sight of these perfect parallelepipeds, arranged in order and on display on the wooden shelves, of different seasoning and sizes, all produced in the small town of Montelepre, in the province of Palermo. To slice pecorino and parmesan, canestrato is first salt, there are the brothers Salvatore and Giuseppe, sons of the founder Gaetano.

Corso Camillo Finocchiaro April 129

food storage

From an idea by Giuseppe Costa, the restaurant's starred chef The Bib of Terrasini, this place was born that already from the name recalls the place where in the past all the food supplies of the house were stored. Dispensa – inaugurated last year in the very central Libertà district of Palermo – brings together different souls: shop, bistro, cellar and restaurant. From the counter it is possible to choose every day the meat preparations of Emanuele Cottone, considered one of the best butchers in Sicily. Also not to be missed is the fresh bread by Ottavio Guccione, a baker who played a fundamental role in the inclusion of Castelvetrano black bread among the Slow Food presidents. On the shelves there are both “Dispensa” brand products and those of small Sicilian excellences: preserves, extra virgin olive oil, wine, jams and honey. The products from the counter, as well as for take-out, can be consumed on site. Dispensa is in fact the ideal place for a quick and tasty lunch break. The strength of the restaurant is the quality of the raw materials, all selected from producers of the regional short chain, in the name of recovering and relaunching the history and identity of the island. On the occasion of Christmas, the Dispensa brigade proposes five Recipe Box (for four people) with inside the chef's advice and all the ingredients needed to prepare "starred" dishes at home.

Via Isidoro La Lumia 30

Lace & Lace

Surely one of the food and wine shops preferred by the upper class Palermo. Since 1974, the activity of the Pizzo family has represented a certainty in the Sicilian capital. In a very central position, the restaurant is located a few steps from the Politeama theater. The strong point is the delicatessen counter, with gourmet treats from Italy and abroad, such as truffles and fine French blue cheeses. A great work of product selection, carried out with passion and professionalism by the owners, Gianni Pizzo together with his son Gaetano. The cellar also deserves a mention, with refined and often unobtainable labels. In 2019 the restaurant was inaugurated, which offers ancient regional recipes handed down from generation to generation. This year Pizzo & Pizzo has also enhanced the delivery service (without any delivery costs throughout the city), and among the most original proposals of the home there is a "romantic" menu designed for lovers. Reservations at 091 6014544.

Via XII January 1 – www.pizzoepizzo.it

Badalamenti Kitchen and Shop

In 1957 Giovanni Badalamenti opened his food shop in Mondello, a few meters from the most beautiful beach in Palermo, immediately becoming a reference point for the residents and for the many who spend the summer in this seaside resort. Giovanni immediately passed on his passion to his sons Mimmo, Luca and Marco, who today carry on the family business. Always attentive to the relationship with customers, they constantly wander through vineyards, mountain pastures and small villages in Italy to find new food and wine gems. In 1990 the gastronomy service was also added, with a proposal of Mediterranean cuisine, which you can buy and take home. In 2011, however, the "Badalamenti Cucina e Bottega" project came to life with the opening of the restaurant: simple and well-made dishes, in full respect of the seasonality of the products, to be consumed in a small internal room with an intimate relaxed. After many years, the name Badalamenti remains, for many Palermitans, a synonym of quality in terms of good food and good wine. Very popular, in this period of celebration, the Christmas baskets, always of great effect for those who receive them. Finally, every week there is a menu specially designed for both delivery and take away.

Via Galatea 55 – www.badalamenticucinaebottega.it

A’Putia Grocery

A few steps from the Zisa, one of the symbolic monuments of the city of Palermo, is this shop (putia in Sicilian) managed by Maurizio Gambacorta together with his son Francesco. A’Putia Grocery is a true gourmet corner where you can shop and stop for lunch and an aperitif (currently suspended due to the forced closure of the premises at 6pm). All the products on sale, such as those used in the kitchen, come from the Sicilian short supply chain, favoring small companies in the area that respect the health of workers and environmental sustainability. Here everything speaks Sicilian: wine, meats, cheeses, preserves and jams. Maurizio and Francesco's goal is to make customers discover and appreciate the food and wine excellences of the island's "artisans of taste". A’Putia is open every day, even on Sundays during the holiday period. From the online shop it is possible to order at home both the pantry products and the dishes from the deli counter and the Christmas baskets.

Via Eugenio l'Emiro 24 – www.aputiagrocery.it


Walking through the streets of the old city, you come across the Orlando farm, much loved by residents, especially by young couples who have repopulated the historic center of Palermo. Every day many zero kilometer products from Sicilian organic companies, such as cheeses from Gangi, cured meats from Enna and pasta from Corleone. Davide Orlando, owner of this shop opened in 2013, thinks directly to select them. Among the products most requested by customers are vegetables, fruit and then the specialties of the family business located in Baucina, a small town in the hinterland Palermo: almonds, biscuits, baked goods and traditional popular sweets. The restaurant is open every day and carries out home delivery of groceries throughout the city. These days the new site for shipments to Italy is online. For an original Christmas gift, Davide recommends the typical ones buccellatini almond or fig desserts (with extra virgin olive oil instead of lard), both prepared by hand in the family business laboratory.

Via Alessandro Paternostro 14 – www.companyorlando.com

Salumeria Filippo

In via Mariano Stabile, near the Massimo theater in Palermo, stands the red sign in block letters of Filippo Lisuzzo's delicatessen, one of the favorite addresses for those who live in the center. This food shop is renowned in the city for its food and wine specialties, in particular cured meats and dairy products from Sicily and other goodies from Italy and abroad (such as the delicious salmon that arrives, twice a week, directly from Ireland). Goat's milk cheeses certainly represent Filippo's strong point, as well as the goodness of small gastronomy prepared daily. Tortellini and fresh pasta are also very popular, especially before Christmas. On the occasion of the upcoming holidays, the offer is always enriched with many new features for the composition of gift boxes. The advice is to order the rich cutting boards to combine with one of the many wine labels available.

Via Mariano Stabile 219


The history of this contemporary workshop is linked to the recovery of Palazzo Butera, one of the most representative historic buildings in Palermo, carried out by the patron Massimo Valsecchi. Madonieat was inaugurated in 2018, coinciding with the opening of the building to the public for Manifesta and is housed in what were once the guardian's quarters. The idea was born from five partners, including Mario Notararigo and Federico Vena, two young people originally from Gangi, with the precise aim of promoting the food and wine products of the Madonie mountain area: cold cuts, cheeses, preserves, liqueurs and the very particular manna of Castelbuono. In addition to the shop, there is also the bistro which offers simple and seasonal recipes linked to the peasant tradition (such as the delicious macco di fave). From the end of March – in full lockdown – the online platform for the shipment of products all over the world was activated. The idea for Christmas is to give a gourmet box with goat cheeses from an artisan dairyman from Gangi and orange jams from Scillato.

Via Butera 20 – www.madonieat.com

Qbio Palermo

Qbio is a start-up born from the idea of ​​bringing the city closer to the countryside, through sustainable agricultural production, food crafts and ecological products. A group of young people from Palermo has in fact decided to bet, courageously, on one community organic to put in direct contact those who produce and those who consume. The store – a concept based on the theme of environmental sustainability – winds through the fresh department, with seasonal fruit and vegetables, the shelves with preserves and preserved products of small Sicilian companies, cosmetic products, ecological detergents (loose and not) and fair trade. And then there is the web platform where it is possible to offer and promote high quality organic products, strictly connected to the territory from which they come, obtained in compliance with human work and the rhythms of nature; choose and book organic baskets with home delivery; have real-time notifications of incoming products on your smartphone. Qbio is therefore a winning model of synergy between agri-food and technology, for those who are attentive to a healthy and responsible diet.

Via Camillo Randazzo 26 – www.qbio.it

Gourmet Christmas gifts: get inspired! – Italian Cuisine

Gourmet Christmas gifts: get inspired!

Wine, beer, boxes of tea, coffee, artisan panettone, creations of chocolate, oil, vinegar, ham, parmesan and even a voucher for a dinner: here are our ideas

THE gourmet gifts they are always a good idea for Christmas and they are always appreciated by everyone. Among your friends and relatives there will surely be someone you love tea or the coffee, some wine lover, some beer enthusiast, some greedy for chocolate or sweets in general.

If, on the other hand, you don't know the tastes of the recipients of your gift, go for the classics: a artisan panettone, a piece of Parmesan Cheese, a bottle of extra virgin olive oil you hate balsamic vinegar and then also jams, biscuits, flours.

A gourmet gift to feel close to us

If you are looking for last-minute gift ideas browse our gallery to find inspiration. You will find suggestions for all tastes and budgets. There is also a way to give a lunch or dinner, for when we can, helping restaurateurs brought to their knees by the emergency Coronavirus.

If during these holidays we cannot be together, let's make ourselves feel close to our loved ones with a gift made with love, which warms the heart, satisfies the throat and fills the belly!

Browse the gallery to discover all the gourmet gift ideas

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