Sea Salt & Capers
La Nicchia CapersPrint This Page
La Nicchia takes its name from a restaurant in Pantelleria, a small volcanic island sandwiched between Sicily and Tunisia and considered “ground zero” for capers, the cured buds of a wild Mediterranean bush. With an adjoining garden and cantina, La Nicchia became well known for utilizing the local specialty on its menu, especially the caper pâté, so owner Gianni Busetta decided to bottle the salty little suckers and sell them. Isn’t global commerce great sometimes?
The capers from Pantelleria are considered “the perfect size”: not the pebble-like “nonpareils” and not the larger Spanish “gruesas.” La Nicchia capers are also labeled IGP, or Protected Geographic Indication, for the discovery of a protein compound they contain that comes from the lava-rich soil of Pantelleria. Like DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) for balsamic vinegar, IGP is a badge of protected authenticity, and thus producers must comply with strict rules laid out by the Italian government.
Like La Nicchia, capers are best when preserved in salt and not in vinegar or brine, which can overwhelm the caper flavor and create a mushy texture. Simply rinse or soak capers to remove salt.
Capers can be used over dishes like veal piccata with mushrooms, but also roughly chopped with olive oil and parsley in a version of salsa verde, to spread over grilled meats or vegetables.