“The first thing that strikes is that beautiful colour,” says restaurateur Enrico Paradiso of the deep red of a Sicilian blood orange. “That’s what attracts people. Then you’ve got the morbid name – the blood orange – and finally, the sweetness of the flesh itself.”
Paradiso is one of a trio behind much-loved Italian diner Fratelli Paradiso in Potts Point, and 10 William Street in Paddington (both with brother Giovanni and Marco Ambrosino). Both restaurants have earned reputations as icons of the Sydney-Italian dining scene, making Paradiso, who looks forward to seeing blood oranges back on his seasonal menus each year, the perfect guide for our exploration of the ingredient in partnership with Connoisseur Gourmet Ice Cream. With their unique flavour, blood oranges are popular simply as a freshly squeezed juice, but he also serves them in dishes including cured swordfish and panna-cotta desserts.
Just as there’s not just one type of common orange, there are three main varieties of Sicilian blood orange: Moro, Tarocco and Sanguinello, all with slight variations in sweetness and colour. Highly seasonal, true blood oranges (as opposed to the pigmented navel oranges native to Valencia) were developed in Sicily and southern Italy and are prized for their sweetness and hints of raspberry. “The blood orange needs a hot, dry climate along with very cold, chilly nights,” says Paradiso. “And that’s Sicily and the south coast. That climate is what the blood orange needs to produce the anthocyanins [the crimson pigment found in berries] for its colour.”
Fortunately, southern NSW has a pocket with just the right climate to produce high quality blood oranges, including the highly coloured Arnold blood orange from the Moro family.
“Our blood oranges mostly come from the Riverina,” says Paradiso. “With the best oranges you can see it in the skin colour, that beautiful redness. That redness will be inside too.”
Given the visual appeal of this super-sweet, late-winter/early-spring citrus, it’s hardly surprising that Paradiso recommends playing up their looks, as well as keeping it simple to let their unique berry notes shine.
“My favourite way to eat them is to keep them as intact as possible, because they look so beautiful,” he says. “Just cut them into one-centimetre slices, lay them on a plate, pour over some Marsala, then sprinkle with raw sugar. That’s how I love it. Leave them for 10 minutes before you serve. Then just rip at it with your hands, no fork. It’s wonderful.”
Try Sicilian blood orange:
12-16 Challis Avenue, Potts Point
(02) 9357 1744
10 William Street
10 William Street, Paddington
(02) 9360 3310
At Jason Saxby’s Osteria di Russo & Russo, where during the right season it is used in several different forms in the desserts.
158 Enmore Road, Enmore
(02) 8068 5202
In the seasonal Breakfast at Timothy’s cocktail at Bulletin Place, which uses vodka, blood orange, pomelo and pink grapefruit.
First floor 10–14 Bulletin Place, Circular Quay
In the homemade marmalade at Fourth Village Providore, which accompanies a selection of artisan breads.
5a Vista Street, Mosman
(02) 9960 7162
Find Sicilian blood orange at:
Sydney Growers’ Market at Sydney Market
250–318 Parramatta Road, Homebush
(02) 9325 6200
Carriageworks Farmers’ Market
245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh
(02) 8571 9099
187 Glebe Point Road, Sydney
(02) 9660 2114
Discover more about Connoisseur Sicilian Blood Orange with Chocolate at connoisseuricecream.com.au.