Joined: 08 Jan 2006 Posts: 35 Location: Montreal, QC
Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 1:39 pm Post subject:
We went to Sardinia for our honeymoon and LOVED it. We stayed on an agriturismo (a working farm/bed and breakfast) and ate delicious food. My husband still remembers what we in our family call "the life changing salad" which was so fresh, and dressed with homegrown lemons (juiced) and homepressed olive oil.
Sardinia, for many years had a serious malaria problem, and so the cuisine is not sea-based, as one would expect for an island. This is slowly changing however. Their porcchedu (wood fired roast pork) is delicious but hard to bring home...I would recommend eating well while you are there. It is always hard to recreate something when you get home.
That being said:
We brought back some bottarga (dried fish roe) to sprinkle on pasta.
Some rock salt for our salt grinder
Some gnocchi sardi (which is dried pasta, not potato based, that are little shells)
If you can, I would recommend avoiding the cities, and exploring the smaller towns and beaches. We drove up and down the west coast for a day stopping at small beaches. The best beach in our estimation was Iz Arrutas, called the "spiaggi de riso" by the locals because the sand is actually tiny white stones that look like grains of rice. It was heavenly. Wear sunscreen though, I got the worst sunburn of my life there, and we were there in early June.
Ah, Italy, my favourite country to eat, I mean travel in...
Joined: 17 Aug 2005 Posts: 307 Location: Far, far away
Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 4:19 pm Post subject:
I second the advice on bottarga, something difficult to find elsewhere. Someone knowledgeable says that the lighter quality is superior to darker. Do not buy bottarga powder.
Something else you can find dried even if they tend to be made fresh in homes or restaurants is fregole, small round balls somewhat like larger grains of couscous. Traditionally served with clams.
Another name for the gnocchi sardi is malloredus, the really good stuff is made with a little saffron in the dough.
Pecorino sardo can be purchased in various stages of aging; sheep still are central to Sardinian life and the island's economy. (In fact, most of the pecorino romano you'll find imported from Italy is actually from Sardinia, with the exception of Locatelli and a few others.) Look for fiore di sardo which is a DOP cheese (one that is designated a traditional, regional specialty by the Italian government). This is what Genoa prefers for making its famed pesto which you should never buy pre-made, but prepare it yourself with fresh basil from home and some of the things you bring back from your trip. Since most of us can only find pine nuts from China (cheaper type), you might consider purchasing Italian ones for making that pesto.
Two other things that are really special in Sardinia include a kind of flat dry bread called carasau or carte di musica. Try it first while you're there to see if you like it. However, this is the real standout, as important as the fiore di sardo: http://www.gourmetsardinia.com/h_mieleamaro.html, bitter honey.
You don't mention where else you are traveling in Italy. You might prepare a little in advance by identifying regional specialties of your destinations, such as Modena's balsamic vinegar in Emilia-Romagna. They're easy to find in internet searches like the ones you're conducting. Just plug in the name of the region. The olive oil of Liguria (used for pesto when you can get it) is mild and sweet, different from Lucca's in Tuscany. Fred Plotkin may have just revised his food lover's guide to Italy which has exactly the kind of advice you seek. I purchased an old edition of the paperback for little money just for this kind of information.
* * *
If you really like to cook, look for an old-fashioned aid to pasta-making that is a wooden box-like form with tight strings that sort of looks like a guitar. You pass a sheet of fresh pasta through it to make long, perfect strands. Sorry, but I don't know the name. There are also wooden boards with engraved lines that you use to make ridges in gnocchi. Textiles, linens in Umbria, especially, are beautiful: kitchen towels, napkins, etc. Little painted ceramic oil and vinegar holders, pitchers, platters.... There are great kitchen supply stores everywhere. Some of the more modest ones intended for natives vs. tourists have real gems, things that you can't find at home, whether holes in the wall or large department stores. I think Italian utensils are beautifully designed and love hardware stores, too.
Last edited by Deste on Thu Aug 03, 2006 7:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 14 Oct 2005 Posts: 827 Location: Oakland, CA
Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 6:26 pm Post subject:
I have been dreaming recently of a sardine dish I had in Sardinia. It was fresh sardines sauteed with onions, tomatoes and either currants or raisins (I was not all that sophisticated at that time, so I don't know that I would have differentiated). I'd love to have a recipe for that. If you have anything similar and can deconstruct it, keep us posted!
Actually - any sardine recipes would be gratefully received! _________________ L'appetit vient en mangeant. -Rabelais
Joined: 17 Aug 2005 Posts: 307 Location: Far, far away
Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 7:01 pm Post subject:
The currants or raisins sound Sicilian to me. A classic Sicilian dish is pasta con le sarde with lots of sardines, fennel, currants, pine nuts, onions, etc. It's famous as something you have to have in Palermo, I think. Perciatelli (Sicilian name, used by De Cecco, for bucatini, long hollowed strands of dried pasta) is traditional. Dab of tomato paste is optional. Whole Foods sells fresh sardines, though I've made this with boneless, skinless sardines packed in olive oil with excellent results. There are bound to be plenty of online recipes.
There's a Ligurian dish, too, with tomato sauce. Very basic. Don't know of anything from Sardinia, but you would think....
Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:57 pm Post subject: Re: Going to Sardinia / Italy - what should I bring home ?
if you're not gone yet, may I also suggest to put some saffron in your Sardinian basket. And while there do try the sebadas (or seadas) they look like giant ravioli, filled with cheese, fried and topped with honey.
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