The remote, windswept island of Pantelleria sits halfway between Sicily and Tunisia. With year-round blazing sunshine, beautiful views and a relaxed, easy-going way of life, it's easy to see why the island is a favourite getaway for celebrities like Giorgio Armani and Madonna. But for the foodies of the world, it isn't the peace and quiet that makes it such a magical place – it's the capers, found growing from every nook and cranny of the island, that make the six-hour boat trip worthwhile.
La Nicchia is the company responsible for keeping the island’s caper industry (which, along with the vineyards and tourism, form the backbone of Pantelleria’s entire economy) alive. It has been exporting capers grown by local farmers since 1949, and in 2005 began growing its own, taking full control of the whole process from seed to jar. Manager Gabriele Lasagni's extensive research has led to new products such as caper powder, crispy capers and caper leaves in olive oil. He believes no part of the plant should be wasted, and that Pantelleria offers the perfect conditions for growing and harvesting capers.
‘Over the centuries, the island has naturally become home to a specific caper plant (Capparis Spinosa) that, unlike other varieties, has a few more leaves that wrap around the petals of the flower when they’re still buds,’ says Gabriele. ‘These two small leaves protect the bud, meaning the capers are more consistent in quality and flavour.’...[read more]
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