Around city centers in many parts of Italy from October to January, you will most likely find chestnut vendors roasting chestnuts over barrel like containers, heated with coal. The best are the slightly burnt nuts because they are easier to peel. In Sicily the vendor sprinkles them with a soft white coating of salt, making them both sweet and savory. While walking along the streets, you can buy a paper cone filled with chestnuts to both warm your hands and fill your tummy.
It’s now very hard to find a streetcorner chestnut roaster in the States. Even in New York City the chestnut vendors heralding the holiday season are becoming quite scarce. We can however, bring this culinary tradition home by roasting them in the oven as described above. So gather family and friends and enjoy this tasty nutritious treat with a glass of novello, new wine with a light natural sparkle, Vin Santo, sweet Tuscan dessert wine, or my favorite, a glass of Sicilian Nerello Mascalese.