We kicked off with dinner at the Hotel Akrabello in Agrigento in the south of Sicily. In a rose-clad dining room, suited waiters glided around large round tables. Baskets of small, seeded rolls were crunchy but soft and almost sweet on the inside and bottled water was readily provided.
To start, came macaroni pasta in a tomato and aubergine sauce. The pasta was a little tough and chewy in places but mostly tender. The aubergines were wonderfully fresh, if a little overdone, and the whole dish was seasoned well, bringing out the more positive elements.
The main was more disappointing. Butter-flied chicken breasts were served up beside scoops of greasy, slightly soggy chips. The chicken was golden-brown and tender, surprisingly nice, while the chips were those awful representatives of the name; the twice removed cousin of the skinny frie and the fat, fluffy chip-shop chip, these were the cardboard type served up in fast-food chicken shops that barely qualify as chips.
Dessert came along in a more authentic style. It was a kind of frozen nougat, sprinkled all the way through with crushed almonds which combined well with the cool vanilla. A creamy dessert with a rather strange taste but definitely an enjoyable alternative to ice cream.
From a typical tourist hotel, I suppose dinner was passable, though something rather more native and fresh would have been appreciated.
Moving not too swiftly onto breakfast. Selection was limited but included the expected sugared croissants and bread rolls along with the variety of jams, honey and chocolate spread. The juice was more akin to the British style though thicker and with a slightly appealing bitter tang. A passable meal but lunch out was something to look forward too.
Dinner the second night began with penne pasta in a tomato sauce, worringly similar to the Heinz canned type. Seasoning was lacking and the sauce baby-puree smooth. Main course came as a pork escalope; thinly sliced, lean and very tender with the skin bordering on too hard but it was better than being soft. Accompanying the pork was peas and bacon though the bacon was dark in colour and hardly flavoursome but the peas were appetising and just firm to bite.
Finally to finish came the Italian version of mille feuille, or millefoglie in Italian. A light sponge, similar to madeira cake, atop which sat layers of cream and flaky pastry. It wasn’t as rich as the French delicacy but no worse because of it. It was light and fluffy, the wafer crumbling inside the cream. Very filling but certainly satisfying.
So, would I dine or stay here again? Dine, probably not, though one must remember they were cooking for a group of 37 and may have altered their menu; still, fresher cuisine and more interesting flavours or ingredients would definitely have lifted the meal. One for the tourists who love a good hotel pool and a tasty dessert.