About 11 years after an invitation from a famous poet, writer and screenwriter from Romagna, to make water, the mother of tea, the art of losing and finding yourself, comes the Catanese chef, Christian Nicita: “Lose yourself in it” is the recommendation you receive when handed the menu and nothing could be more exact. Indeed, the etymology leads us to the not altogether expected: pouring togetherness.
The doors to tea, in this central street in Catania, open to the sight of engravings on the wooden tables, an indication that instantly conjures up the Chinese art of serving tea. Water running through the teapots, wine glasses that respect the time taken by the leaves, time which at Acquamadre is governed by infusions and from the outset, keeps the promise of its slogan “In Catania, tea like you’ve never tasted before”.
We treated ourselves to a trip to Sicily to meet Christian Nicita, owner and chef of this tearoom with culinary experience whose name bears the inseparable element for tea leaves, water and time.
Acquamadre is a tearoom with culinary experience. A carefully organised journey amidst food and tea which explains Christian Nicita’s passion for Sicily and travelling, especially to the Far East.
Initially, the menu leads you towards discovery then towards losing yourself. Two sections that lead precisely to a Comfort Zone (classic dishes) and Going Beyond (complex dishes). Each dish is offered as an appetiser, lunch/dinner and for each one you can select a dish with the added combination of tea.
There is no lack of recommendations that are more or less classic, for the ideal breakfast or afternoon tea.
The strictly Halal cuisine (food prepared in respect of Islamic laws) – starts with carefully selected raw materials and an eye to what is seasonal, an aesthetic and poetic sense that can be found in each dish with a harmony that is reflected from the ingredients to the tea.
And because it is always time for tea, we opted for the sweet version at breakfast moving on to the dishes recommended for lunch/dinner, all strictly accompanied by top quality tea, some of which even included tea as an ingredient. It is impossible to leave and omit the afternoon tea par excellence so we did not miss out even on the least traditional of Afternoon Teas.
The day starts at Acquamadre with the most classic “cu tuppo” brioche accompanied by Matcha granita or seasonal fruit or chocolate granita and for some, the invitation is even to combine this with a cold tea infusion. There is no room for approximation with this brioche dough: 24 hours for rising, only the finest butter, fresh eggs, vanilla pod and top quality flour. The unique croissants with perfect puff pastry are filled with cream, marmalade or ricotta and even the most sweet-toothed will be won over here as the filling is also served on the side so that the tips of this sweet delight can be enjoyed right to the end. The teas are combined according to preferences and filling.
From tradition to creative recommendations, at lunchtime in the Going Beyond section we tried a Senatore Cappelli hand drawn durum wheat pasta with a grouper sauce and green Matcha tea but the sauce varies in rhythm with the seasons. Our version Pasta and Fish and Tea was combined with a Sencha Yamato tea. Don’t Blush on the other hand is a main course and perfect combination of mackerel cooked at low temperature, served with mashed potatos, strawberry, Romaine lettuce and white chocolate sauce. An experience that is accompanied by a Yunnan Mao Feng in a wine glass, infused in the beautiful glass teapots in accordance with the gong fu cha ceremony.
“I attended the Gambero Rosso cookery school – Christian tells us – then I took a course to become a sommelier. My passion for tea, its shades, hints and colours and the beauty of serving it in a wine glass undoubtedly stem from having studied wine. Most of all, however, it was my travels to Turkey that led me to uncover the soul and spirit of tea. The pleasure of time and sharing”.
The same time we spent at Acquamadre discussing music, books, travel, raw materials, new dishes and tea and which took us on a journey of discovery of two marvellous desserts. The first one, Etna, a clear homage to his homeland which it is not easy to talk about, should be observed, smelt and tasted. Combined with an oolong Classic Rou Gui. All we can say is that first and foremost it is exciting, even before declaring it good. The second one was an ice cream which we are happy to nominate even if it is a seasonal ice cream. It is the Vita Nova – pea ice cream accompanied by an almond sauce, ginger biscuit, ginger air and marinated peas served with oolong Anxi Gande Tie Guan Yin.
“On average – Christian tells us – our menu changes every three-four months, always a little at a time. As soon as a new dish is ready, we replace one that is going out of season”.[…] “We require places that act as a mirror for our reflections. Places that whisk us away from the life we are leading”. Tonino Guerra was right. Pennabilli proved for him to be the place where he could “start and re-start over”. Christian Nicita found and re-found his place at the foot of Etna in his home town of Catania. Acquamadre is an invitation to water and tea, the rediscovery of a place of beauty, flavour, time and refection within us. Undoubtedly a tearoom but perfectly matched with the magnificent atmospheres and flavours of Sicily.
Via Luigi Capuana 36, Catania
Tel. 349 6936340
Tearoom with culinary experience that also offers courses on tea, chat, music and reading