Italy // Sardinia //

Regional food and wine

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Sardinian cooking revolves around the freshest of ingredients simply prepared: seafood – especially lobster – is grilled over open fires scented with myrtle and juniper, as is meltingly tender suckling pig. A few wild boar escape the fire long enough to be made into prosciutto di cinghiale, a ham with a strong flavour of game. Being surrounded by sparkling seas, Sardinians also make rich, Spanish-inspired fish stews and produce bottarga, a version of caviar made with mullet eggs. Pasta is substantial here, taking the form of culurgiones (massive ravioli filled with cheese and egg) or malloreddus (saffron-flavoured, gnocchi-like shapes), while cheeses tend to be made from ewe’s milk and are either fresh and herby or pungent and salty – like the famous pecorino sardo. The island is also famous for the quality and variety of its bread, ranging from parchment-thin pane carasau to chunky rustic loaves intended to sustain shepherds on the hills. As in Sicily, there is an abundance of light and airy pastries, frequently flavoured with lemon, almonds or orange-flower water.

Vernaccia is the most famous Sardinian wine: a hefty drink reminiscent of sherry and treated in a similar way – the bone-dry version as an aperitif and the sweet variant as a dessert wine. The stand-out red is the Cannonau di Sardegna, a heady number much favoured by locals. Among the whites, look out for dry Torbato or the full-flavoured Trebbiano Sardo, both perfect accompaniments to local fish and seafood.

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