Everyone loves a good nosh, and there is no other place in the world where they do food, as good as they do here, in Sardinia.
The Sardinian natives have for centuries used the land to farm pig, sheep, wild boar and rabbit. Never in my life have I tasted food so fresh and unique, my taste buds scream with happiness every time I take a bite.
If you are planning a trip to Sardinia, I offer one piece of advice: Eat like the locals, enjoy the flavours and uniqueness that only this island can offer.
Top 10 Taste Sensations to Leave Your Mouth Watering in Sardinia, Italy
10. Horsemeat or cavallo is high in protein, tender, sweet and low in fat. You will find horsemeat on most restaurant menus and in the butcher shop. Horsemeat in Sardinia is as natural as eating a 14 oz beef steak in Texas. Ask for: cavallo.
9. Wild Boar or cinghiale is very popular in Sardinia during the winter months it’s the preferred meal of choice. Wild boar is a lean, close-grained meat and darker than pork. The meat is sweet and has a distinctive nutty flavour. Wild boar is very high in protein and much leaner than pork. There are many different flavours to sample Sardinia’s wild boar: smoked, grilled, salsiccia and in a great stew. Ask for: cinghiale.
8. Pane carasau, carasatu, carasadu and in Italian carta musica is a typical bread from Barbagia in central Sardinia. The basic ingredients of pane carasau are: yeast, salt, water and durum wheat flour. Pane carasau is a thin, light crispy bread and is made for shepherds who used to stay away from home for months at a time. Pane carasau can last up to one year if kept dry. Your bread basket will over flow with this ancient wafer-thin bread, you cannot escape its crunchy wonders. Ask for: pane carasau.
7. Seadas is a local sweet ravioli and served as a dessert. Made from flour, fresh cheese (pecorino being the best choice). It is lightly fried to a golden brown then honey or sugar is drizzled over the top. It’s a rustic and simple dessert that you can find in all corners of the island. This is a must try! The pronunciation or spelling varies from region to region but they will understand what you are trying to say. Ask for: seadas (say-a-das).
6. Culurgiones is a filled pasta dish and is to die for! The pastry is made with flour, eggs, salt and water and the filling is formed by adding finely mashed potatoes, pecornio cheese, animal fats, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and fresh mint leaves then topped with a light tomato sauce. The ingredients used in this recipe have not changed for centuries and for the most part culurgiones are still hand-crafted. Ask for: culurgiones.
5. Pecorino Sardo is cheese made from Sardinian sheep milk and curdled using lamb or kid stomach enzymes! It has a rich flavour which sharpness with age and is used in various ways: grated on top of pasta, consumed in bite size chunks with pane carasau or melted in a toasted panni (my Canadian-Sardinian grilled cheese sandwich invention). Pecorino Sardo has a flavour truly Sardinian, a flavour you won’t find elsewhere. Pair this sharp cheese with one of the island’s Cannonau’s, you will not be disappointed in the islands 5000 years of cheese production. Ask for: pecorino.
4. Mirto is a popular liqueur made from myrtle and come in two distinct flavours: Mirto rosso which is made from the myrtle berries and Mirto bianco which is made from the leaves of the myrtle plant. Mirto is often served as an after dinner digestive and is served chilled. Most restaurants will offer their homemade mirto which is stronger, and better than that of the various popular brands on the island. Ask for: mirto fatto in casa.
3. Gnocchi Sardi is the traditional pasta dish from Sardinia. Their shape is that of a small conch shell, and is made from semolina, water and flavoured with saffron. It’s often accompanied by a slow cooked ragu. Gnocchi sardi tends to be a meat less dish but in some restaurants you may find it cooked with local sausage. Ask for: gnocchi sardi or mallodoreddus.
2. Zuppa Gallurese is a typical traditional plate from the Gallura in the north-west part of Sardinia, it’s the place I now call home. Zuppa Gallurese is like a lasagna but is made with stale flat bread (pane carasau or spianata, like a bread wrap), sheep broth, sheep meat and oodles of pecorino sardo. It’s a traditional wedding dish that is now served all over the island albeit in different variations from region to region. It’s a heavy full carb meal that packs a unique flavour. Ask for: zuppa gallurese.
1. Suckling Pig is the national dish of Sardinia and is often cooked with myrtle branches alongside or under the pig. Traditionally, the piglet is cooked around a large open fire similar to a rotisserie, often taking 4-5 hours to cook. The chef(s) take turns turning the large spits that are sunk into the ground, around the open flames. The result is a crispy, delicious piece of meat. It is generally served at special feasts like weddings or large family gatherings. Most restaurants cook the piglet in a large open flame oven and will serve it as a second course. Ask for: porceddu (por-kayd-du).
A nice glass of local Sardinian wine would go great paired with any of the dishes above. Click here to read about my favourite Sardinian reds.
See anything you like or don’t? Have you tried some of Sardinia’s finest dishes? Tell me below.