Sea and beyond.

Sardinia in Spring: 8 Inland Itineraries

sardi
Artwork by Stefania Saragoni.

Article first appeared on Gambero Rosso Year 21 -number 116 – march 2018 pag. 70

In the name of landscape, of culture, of gastronomy, of wines and of traditions, eight Sardinian towns and their surroundings have come together in a common initiative aimed at promoting around Europe the region’s culinary specialities and artisan foods. Focus on an island that is also land and not just beautiful sea.  by Giuseppe Carrus

Aggius, Atzara, Baunei, Cabras, Nuoro, Orosei, Sant’Antioco and La Maddalena: these are the eight protagonists of the “Eno-tourist itinerary of the villages of excellence” project promoted by Laore, an Agency for the Development of Agriculture of the Sardinia Region. The goal of the project is a noble one: divulge eno-tourist itineraries as much as possible and with them share the oldest gastronomic traditions. There is more to Sardinia than the sea , in fact this is an island where the biodiversity linked to microclimates and soils really makes a difference: yes, there are beaches and coasts, but also a huge inland area that is still undiscovered. This is immediately apparent by simply looking at the landscape. it’s equally incredible how this diversity can be found in local wines, cheeses and cured meats, in recipes as well as in dish names. That’s right: the Sardinian language finds its dialectal inflections in the various sub-regions, here too names of similar preparations present differences depending on the town in which they are made even if – and this happens often – the distance between them is minimal.

We travelled around Sardinia visiting towns that joined the project, exploring  historical centers and the places of culture. We also scouted the surrounding landscape, with agriculture and pastures or unspoiled nature, beaches, woods, rocky bluffs and flat expanses of flowers and wild herbs.  We found perfectly preserved Nuragic settlements, giants’ tombs, domus de Janas (witches dens); Romanesque churches and museums paying homage to the great personalities of the island known all over the world . But also a place boasting immense gastronomic heritage products, recipes very often privy only to locals. The list of types of traditional bread present on the island alone: dozens and dozens, different in shape, baking methods and customs associated. Many breads are linked to ancient rites, loaves are still crafted by skilled hands and preparation techniques still handed down for generations. It’s furthermore no coincidence that many historical Sardinia recipes originate precisely from bread. A true symbol of an island that, for this reason too, can undoubtedly be considered an “almost continent”.

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Aggius and Inland Gallura

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artwork by Stefania Saragoni

Aggius is a small village of 1500 inhabitants. It is located inland in the Gallura area, not far from Tempio Pausania.

The village is dominated by Mount Limbara in a unique context of dry stone walls, nuraghe and promontories about 700 meters above the sea level. The landscape is characteristic of Gallura: Mediterranean maquis vegetation, granite rock, elm, oak and cork trees (this part o the island is the most suitable for high quality cork stoppers) that alternate with flocks of cows and sheep, and vineyards. From the highest points of the small chain called Aggius Mountains, you can see breath-taking views that reaches the Costa Smeralda. The town centre is characterized by houses boasting exposed granite walls; the village is furthermore enriched by four historic churches. Nearby, don’t forego visiting the artificial lake of Santa Degna, the Valle della Luna an the Izzana nuraghe dating back to the XVI-X century BC and among the best preserved of the whole island. Also worth seeing is the museum dedicated to banditry that collects artifacts dating back to the smuggling period during the Piedmontese domination (1718-1861) and the Oliva Carta Cannas ethnographic museum dedicated to everyday objects and the ancient art of weaving.

The Wines

Cantina Mancini – Vermentino di Gallura Spumante Brut              

Mancini in Gallura is synonymous with quality and tradition and among the first to bottle wines of excellent quality. In addition to still wines, we recommend their spumante Brut, made exclusively from Vermentino di Gallura grapes. Good aroma on the nose and a dry, yet fresh and fragrant mouth. Ideal with seafood appetizers.

Consorzio San Michele – Vermentino di Gallura Sinfonia ’16

Ten hectares of vineyards, near the rural church of San Michele, a group of friends-producers with a penchant for quality founded the Consortium in 2012. Sinfonia, a white with great olfactory complexity boasts notes of loquat, almond and citrus in evidence. Excellent palate, fresh and savoury, with a clean and deep finish. Perfect with vegetable or seafood pasta courses.

Cantina del Vermentino – Vermentino di Gallura Aghiloja Oro ’16

The cooperative cellar unites donors hailing form Monti and its surroundings. The vermentino Aghiloja Oro is of excellent quality, with fruity and herbaceous bouquet; on the palate it is sapid and enveloping. Perfect with medium-aged cheeses or with fish entrees.

Cantina Tani Vini -Serranu ’14

The winery was founded in 2008 and includes an Agriturismo farmhouse called Vermentino. Of particular note is the Serranu label, an excellent red wine obtained from traditional grapes: the 2014 vintage offers perfumes of scrub and red fruits; the palate is thick, with silky tannins and a fresh and fragrant taste. Excellent with stewed red meats.

A Word from the Chef

“A veritable treasure chest o ingredients.”

Gallura is a unique area where I worked for many years and that gave me the opportunity to grow, learning many different recipes from the rest o Sardinia; plus learning about many ingredients and exclusive local crops. Gallura cuisine is rich in aromatic herbs and incredible contrasts between sweet and savoury. Among the dishes that I remember most are Li Ciusoni (artisan gnochetti) Li Brullioni or Bruglioni (ravioli filled with ricotta or cheese) and the very special Mazza Frissa, fresh heavy cream whipped with semolina and used with fresh fava beans to shape gnocchi, or eaten on its own with only a little honey or sugar.

Then there is the traditional dish par excellence, the Zuppa Gallurese: a soup made with simple and local ingredients normally present in every household, such as stale bread, bone broth, pecorino cheese and wild herbs. A real treat! And let’s not forget the wines: think Vermentino or Moscato whites ( also produced in a sparkling wine version) and the red native grapes, offer fresh and enjoyable red wines. Manuele Senis ( Sa Scolla a Baradili

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To be continued…………………….

Article first appeared on Gambero Rosso Year 21 -number 116 – march 2018 pag. 70 onward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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