Cedric Casanova – half-French, half-Sicilian – had an illustrious career as an acrobat in Cirque du Soleil, but the time had come for him to hang up his tightrope. He returned to Sicily and spent a few months thinking about what he was going to do, feasting on the olives that his family grew in the small village of Salaparuta, and eating the bread, cheese and fish from the other local farmers. These delicacies tasted so incredible that he had the idea to sell them in Paris, and so he opened a grocery. With his skills as a showman, he very quickly became friends with the big chefs of the city, like Alain Ducasse, Pierre Gagnaire, Pierre Herme, and he ended up supplying all of them with produce for their restaurants. One grocery store became two, then one in London and a restaurant in Paris called La Tete dans L’Olive, meaning ‘head in the olives’.
Casanova & Daughters in Neal’s Yard started as a grocery, as in Paris, and followed suit by supplying some of the city’s most famous restaurants, such as Sketch, Annabels, the Mandrake hotel and Folie. Because of the amazing location in Neal’s Yard, Francois, Cedric’s French business partner, thought it would be a good idea to open it up as a wine bar and restaurant – after all, they had the license for it and they offered exactly the kind of thing that customers wanted before going to the theatre nearby.
Over time, the wine bar developed alongside the produce coming in from Sicily. The wines are from all over Sicily, which is always interesting because it’s a small island with lots of different landscapes and soils – there are mountains, sea and volcanoes. Half of the wines are natural, something Casanova & Daughters has become known for in London. They choose winemakers that have tried to respect the land as much as possible and keep chemical intervention to a minimum – after all, it is the land that provides those special Salaparuta olive trees.
Cedric spends half of his time in Sicily, producing things with the local farmer Marco, who is part of his team, along with Marco’s cousin, Dominico, and more family and friends from the village. Cedric and Francois try to make the most of the beautiful produce from the region – cheese, oil, tuna – and Cedric comes once a year to the shop to see how things are going.
Taste the produce of Salaparuta in a wine tasting and food pairing at Casanova & Daughters on Thursday 5th December. Find more information and ticket purchasing options here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/83302739737