Portorais Hotel, Palermo, Sicily
Via Piraineto, 125
+39 091 8693481
by Blake Pudding
We were somewhere around Corleone on the edge of the mountains when the Prosecco began to take hold. I had been commissioned by Oligarch magazine (incorporating Toff Monthly) to write an article on a classic car rally. Girls, Alfa Romeos and louche antics, the piece would practically write itself and I would get a free holiday. It was not to be. When the rally organisers found out about my intentions they threatened to run over my legs with a 1972 Cadillac Eldorado. I was skint and commissionless in Sicily so I patched a call through to Malcolm Eggs to ask whether he would take a special breakfast dispatch. He said yes and generously agreed to pay my expenses out of the LRB budget. I was back in the game but rapidly running out of words without having touched on what I had for breakfast.
We had eaten that morning at the Hotel Portorais. Everyone looked a little peaky after the night before though not as peaky as the hotel itself with its air of faded grandeur and thwarted ambition. The staff’s uniforms looked like something from an am dram production of HMS Pinafore. They laid on a top breakfast though. Excellent coffee of course - it is very hard to get bad coffee in Sicily - but also cakes, tarts, croissants, yoghurt and best of all a kind of flat calzone thing stuffed with ham and cheese. Not knowing when, where or with whom I would be having lunch, I made a bit of a pig of myself. I need not have worried, as after getting slightly lost, we ran into the rest of the group just outside Monreale. The Cadillac was groaning with food and wine. I necked the best part of a bottle of Prosecco, ate more pizza and then shouted “follow me to Corleone, I know the way,” though of course I didn’t and was just drunk and showing off.