Besides remarkable Sardinian specialities, the quality of all the ingredients of Italian cuisine is stunning in Sardinia. This page is very loosely related to Sardinia's specialities and more about our personal tastes. In fact, until the advent of tourism, coasts were considered to be low value lands and were very often bequeathed to female family members. Sardinians (not all but most ...) lived inland to shelter from seaborne attacks and were slow to shift back focus to the sea even though the geopolitic situation had completely evolved centuries ago. As a result, proper specialities are fishless. For a serious approach to Sardinia's cuisine we suggest books such as « Cucina di Sardegna, a cura di Itala Testa – foto di Gianflorest Pani, EdiSar ». To grab a bird's-eye view of contemporary Sardinian tastes one should head to San Benedetto's market in the heart of Cagliari (or Santa Chiara's market, smaller). Sea food can be found in the dedicated ground floor. Gaze at a vast series of stalls where fresh, less fresh and thawed produce is displayed. Be suspicious with criers and watch merchants' hands for deep dives in the fish baskets when buying. Fish is sought after for grilled, oven, fried and carpaccio preparations, wake-up early. Upstairs, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, bakeries (try guttiau, oiled and salted version of carasauLicense, coccoiLicense for aesthetics, ricotta bread, potato bread ...). For desserts, "focaccie" and other snacks, the bakery bar Le plus bon is a recommended waypoint. From Easter until the beginning of summer, spit-roasted piglet, lamb and goat kid are very popular. Wild boarLicense requires a long preparation but is probably the most tasty and particular meat. Horse meat is very popular but we never eat it because horses have been travel and life companions of human kind since the dawn of civilization.
Most notable for us are the preparations of baby octopusLicense and CuttlefishLicense, the burrida, dogfishLicense with nuts, bottargaLicense (cured mullet roe) with raw artichoke hearts, red-mouthed rock shellsLicense (very particular taste, we do not like it) and sea anemonesLicense.
The main varieties of wine grape are Cannonau (Grenache), Vermentino (Rolle), Moscato (Muscat), Monica and many others follow. We prefer stainless steel aged wine to oak aged wine but both kinds are available. Red wine contains the strength of the sun boosted by the dry climate, and can be drinked either young or at most 4 years old. For a nice start we suggest Nepente di Oliena and Carignano del Sulcis. White wine is also excellent and ranges from fizzy sweet to lean. (e.g. La Cala, Sella & Mosca). Some cooperatives' wines, bottled or unpackaged, are very competitive and easily surpass wine produced in prestigious domains. Unfortunately, quality productions are very limited and varying in the South-East. Sorso's or Oliena's cooperatives are a wiser choice, but big supermarkets often have some nice bottles on offer.
In our comune (Maracalagonis), Barley produces a series of renowned beers acclaimed in Belgium. The beers are exceedingly difficult to find in bars and restaurants but are definitely worth the efforts.
Fresh extra virgin oil (not exactly a drink, but when tasting one drinks a glass) just out of the oil mill is delicious, and a vast choice is available. On rocky soil olives produce a yellow tasty and slightly hot oil whereas on clay the result is a green juice, fruity and perfumed. Prices vary between 8 and 15 Euro per litre when buying directly from the producer.
“Mirto” is Sardinia's digestive, prepared with myrtle berries, honey, sugar and alcohol. One should move it from the fridge to the freezer when starting dinner. Some think it's excessively sweet and prefer filu ferru (steel wire), the local eau de vie, or walnut liquor older than five years.
Last update: 7th April 2014
First published: 7th April 2014