It's dusk on the Italian coast as we unfold our beach towels next to Melodie, founder of Curù. The water is sparkling and our skin is salty. Okay, okay...we're still here in Toronto, but we can't help but picture ourselves with Melodie in her Sicilian family home.
Come, and revel in the slowness of a well-constructed lunch, brimming with sweet melons and fresh pasta as we learn how a Sicilian passes the days under the Italian sun.
WHO: Melodie, the founder of Curù
HH: Melodie! First, thanks so much for connecting with us, we’ve been smitten with Curù’s After Sun Oil, it's such a considered blend of plant-based botanicals that really strengthen the skin barrier for those ultra sunny days. On a sunny day, are you the type to pack up a beach bag and soak in the sun, or will we find you closer to home taking refuge in the shade?
Melodie: I am a sun seeker for sure, I count the days till summer and can’t wait to get a little sun-kissed (baciata dal sole, in Italian)! There is such a beautiful, ritual-like coexistence with the sun.
I love to be outdoors as much as possible so my day usually begins with breakfast outside in fresh air on the covered veranda, and with the sound of roosters, gentle wind and the sea. Then it’s straight to the beach! It is so important to enjoy the sun carefully. In my beach bag, you will always find mineral SPF – which I always reapply, a thermal bottle with cold water, a hat and sunnies. Once 1 pm hits, you will find the beach deserted until about 4 pm which is when the sun is the strongest. Here it is ritual to head in for lunch and of course to take an afternoon nap. It is the Sicilian way!
Once evening hits and the sun isn’t so strong, we head back to the sea for the evening – which has a whole new magic of its own. The sun paints beautiful silhouettes of friends, lovers and families swimming, playing bocce, cuddling, building sand castles, and walking dogs. Truly the dolce vita. The sparkle of the water is gold. The sea is calm. Memories are made.
A day in the sun ends with a restorative ritual. My sun-kissed skin drinks up the rich botanicals of the After Sun Facial Oil, leaving a lasting, nourished glow. No matter where I am in the world, the aroma and sensation of each drop bring me back to a day under the Italian sun.
HH: Let’s imagine you’re hosting a lunch (we’ll bring the wine!), what’s on the menu and where are you running errands to get everything ready?
Melodie: Lunch is such a precious time of day in Italy. One of my favourite dishes to have at lunch in the summertime is “busiate con pesto alla trapanese”. This pesto originates from the province of Trapani, where my family is from, and includes peeled almonds and tomatoes. It requires no cooking which is perfect for a hot summer afternoon – it is fresh and full of flavour!
Busiate is a traditional pasta (also from this region). The curly texture of this pasta holds the pesto so that each bite is perfect – the two are a classic pair. We use ingredients from the garden and also buy from local markets. Making busiate by hand is something I enjoy but it can also be bought fresh from a local shop or found in the grocery store.
It is typical to find “vino di casa” on the table at lunch and dinner, which is an amber coloured wine with a high alcohol percentage, made with sweet Sicilian grapes. It can only be bought directly from the winemaker and cannot be found in grocery stores.
Lunch is always finished with a refreshing fruit like watermelon or “melone giallo”, a typical Italian melon. As a refreshing treat, I love preparing the melone giallo in a bowl by cutting it into small cubes with a squeeze of lemon and pieces of mint, served chilled.
Shopping list for busiate con pesto alla trapanese:
- Sweet tomatoes
- Peeled almonds
- Pecorino cheese (can exclude for a vegan version)
- Extra virgin olive oil
HH: Poet J.W. Goethe writes, “to have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.” We’re taking notes - what’s something that you make sure to always do/see when you’re in Sicily?
Melodie: I love this quote so much because it is so true. There is an abundance of culture and history from the dialect, architecture, landscapes and of course, ingredients!
Something I always look forward to is the inspiration I get from being here in so many ways. This includes visiting and learning from harvesters, recharging at a secluded beach surrounded by mountains, cooking with seasonal ingredients and immersing myself in the daily traditions.
Here’s how I suggest experiencing Sicily:
- Eat a traditional dish with seasonal ingredients
- Shop at a local market (for fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, a sun dress and home essentials)
- Street food! My personal favourites – arancine, pane e panelle (fried chickpea batter in a bun), coppu (fried fish)
- Try gelato or granita in a brioche, I suggest trying pistachio or modica chocolate gelato and almond or mulberry granita
- Watch the sunset by the sea
- Go to a sagra (a food festival celebrating various sicilian foods and ingredients)
- Visit ancient ruins and other historical sites
- Take a boat trip to visit the small islands
- Practice your sicilian! “Curù” (koo-roo) is a sweet Sicilian word you can use to address the people that you love!
HH: You share about your struggle with acne in the Curù brand story, it seems this experience was a catalyst for creating skincare that really works for you. Looking back at that time, what advice would you give your younger self?
Melodie: What I would tell myself, is to not be so harsh with my skin. I would make sure to educate myself on skincare from a holistic point of view and understand how much food, stress and lifestyle all play a role in skin health. I would especially teach myself that a gentle and natural approach is a loving and effective way to care for your skin and nourish it back to a healthy, balanced state. What I know now, that I didn't know then, is that there is an abundance of botanicals which we are so lucky to have, that are full of healing properties, that strengthen the skin barrier and deliver real results.
HH: Let’s get magical, if you had the opportunity to ask a crystal ball one question, what would it be?
Melodie: There are so many plans I have for Curù Skin that I am very excited for. I would definitely like to see where Curù Skin is at 5 years from now so I know how I can get there in the most sustainable way possible. For example, designing the packaging for the After Sun Facial Oil was one of things I enjoyed doing the most when building the brand so I think it would be interesting to see what kind of innovation there would be for us in the next 5 years. I also dream of creating a Curù Skin experience in Sicily. I don't know what that would entail just yet so it would be very exciting to see what that would look like.
HH: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us while you’re enjoying your vacation. Safe travels and we’ll see you when you’re back in Toronto. :)