Cuisine and Wines of Sardinia

The island of Sardinia has a cuisine all of it’s own and bears little resemblance to the tomato sauces of mainland Italy. Although being an island and therefore seafood plays an important part in the cuisine, it is also an island of shepherds and lamb features strongly in most of the island dishes. Sardinia is a food lovers paradise and exploring market stalls and local shops and restaurants is a delight. Antipasti dishes will include proscuitto, salami, cheese, octopus, clams, mussels,and olives. There is a plentiful choice of meats to choose from in Sardinia with wild boar, lamb, suckling pigs, and goat and they have a great variety of dishes which include these. The Sardinians will follow a pasta course with the meat course, which often will be the favourite suckling pig”porceddu“, spit roasted over a log fire, baby goat or lamb are also popular, lamb served with wild fennel being an excellent dish. Pastas are heart types such as culingiones – spinach and cheese ravioli -, also couscous and gnocchi will accompany Sardinia’s traditional dishes. Saffron grows liberally on the island and it is used in many of the dishes, herbs are also grown everywhere and used in many dishes, herbs such as wild fennel, mint, juniper and myrtle all give food a unique Sardinian flavour. Lobsters are delicious and the recipe will vary depending on which town you are in, they all have their own particular way of preparing this dish. The fertile soil and sunny conditions make Sardinia a good place for the cultivation of vegetables and it is not surprising, given these conditions, that Sardinia is Italy‘s leading producer of organic products. With the plentiful seafood and fish which include lobster, crabs, clams,bream, squid, sea bass, anchovies and, of course sardines, there are lots of tasty dishes to use them in , try the fish soup Burrida, or the variety of fish roasted over hot charcoal or sample one of the seafood pasta or rice dishes. Sardinia has a unique pasta called malloreddus (little calves) which are semolina dumplings flavoured with saffron, other favoured shapes include lorighittas (spirals), pillus and maccarones which are twisted into shape around long pieces of metal.

Cheese-making has been perfected over many,many years and the island produces 80% of Italy’s Pecorino Romano, there is a great variety of cheeses to choose from, spicy or sweet depending on the maturity. Cheese is Sardinia‘s most exported food product and include such delights as Fiore sardo, ricotta and it also makes casu marzu (rotten cheese), which is now actually illegal because of the addition of fly larvae, it does nevertheless remain a local delicacy.

There are around 400 different types of breads in Sardinia, and special shapes are baked for all occasions, Sardinian bread is quite dry and therefore keeps quite well, each village has its own variations on the tundus – large loaves- but the best known is the music bread, wafer thin sheets which are found alongside all dishes, this bread is believed to have been introduced by the Arabs in the 8th or 9th century. Coccoi pinatus, a highly decorative bread and pistoccu made with flour and water only, originally meant for herders, but often served at home with tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic and a strong cheese.

Desserts and pastries in Sardinia will often include honey, almonds and fresh cheese like ricotta. The “sa sead” a disc of dough with a lemon flavoured cheese filling which is fried and covered with melted honey.” “Copulettas” similar to meringues and “Amaretti” macaroons, culurgiones de mendula -semi circles filled with almond paste and honey-,papssinos – made with raisins, almonds and pine nuts-almond amaretti, culurgiones di ricotta or caschettes– made with hazelnuts, homey and cinnamon and shaped as a white rose.

There is evidence that beer has been produced in Sardinia since the Copper Age with the discovery of jars containing hops, so it is little wonder that it is still popular today and indeed Sardinians consume the most beer per person in all of Italy, almost double the national average. Sardinia is also famous for its dessert wines and the best known is Vernaccia di Oristano, it is similar to the Marsala wines of Sicily.

Two characteristic alcoholic beverages made in Sardinia are mirto, flavoured with native myrtle berries, and filu’e ferru, distilled from the grape dregs left over from wine-making. The latter name derives from sticking a wire (filu) made of iron (ferru) into the ground to mark the liquor’s underground hiding place. The locals were driven to distill their own liquor and then hide it under a trapdoor due to high government taxes. The hidden liquor could be found by attaching a piece of wire to the door.

List of Italian DOCG wines of Sardinia

  • Vermentino di Gallura (Bianco as normale and Superiore), produced in the provinces of Nuoro and Sassari

List of Italian DOC wines of Sardinia

  • Alghero produced in the province of Sassari
    Arborea produced in the province of Oristano
    Campidano di Terralba produced in the provinces of Cagliari and Oristano
    Cannonau di Sardegna produced throughout the region
    Carignano del Sulcis produced in the province of Cagliari
    Girò di Cagliari produced in the provinces of Cagliari and Oristano
    Malvasia di Bosa produced in the province of Nuoro
    Malvasia di Cagliari produced in the provinces of Cagliari and Oristano
    Mandrolisai produced in the provinces of Nuoro and Oristano
    Monica di Cagliari produced in the provinces of Cagliari and Oristano
    Monica di Sardegna produced throughout the region
    Moscato di Cagliari produced in the provinces of Cagliari and Oristano
    Moscato di Sardegna produced throughout the region
    Moscato di Sorso Sennori produced in the province of Sassari
    Nasco di Cagliari produced in the provinces of Cagliari and Oristano
    Nuragus di Cagliari produced in the provinces of Cagliari, Nuoro and Oristano
    Sardegna Semidano produced throughout the region
    Vermentino di Sardegna produced throughout the region
    Vernaccia di Oristano produced in the province of Oristano
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