Journey through the food and wine excellence of northern Sardinia
Northern Sardinia is teeming with food and wine excellence, culinary goodness and typical DOC and DOP products. How many of them do you know?
In this article, Salude&Trigu reveals 10 food and wine excellences of North Sardinia to try at least once in a lifetime.
The list is not exhaustive, but these pearls represent a taste of the culinary traditions of the North Island.
10 typical products and goodness not to be missed...
Vermentino di Gallura
Esplanade of Ozieri
Panadas of Oschiri
The myrtle of North Sardinia: TOP of Excellence
North Sardinian myrtle is a true excellence of the area. From the plant of the same name and its juicy berries comes a world-famous fragrant liqueur. An excellent digestive, to be enjoyed at the table with family or friends, myrtle represents one of the most appreciated typical products.
Myrtle liqueur is made from the berries that are harvested between November and January; the best time, however, is December. Once made, it is distinguished by its red color with purple and ruby undertones and creamy but not overly creamy texture.
The myrtle plant has been known since ancient times for its balsamic, antiseptic, astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. In the Middle Ages, the so-called Acqua degli Angeli (Water of Angels), used as a skin tonic, was extracted from the myrtle flowers. In short, myrtle is a true treasure of Sardinia.
Wines and surroundings: the Vermentino di Gallura
Vermentino is grown in several Italian regions, but it is in Sardinia that it finds its preferred climate, enriching itself with aromas that evoke the landscapes from which it comes to life.
This is a white wine highly appreciated by connoisseurs, with a straw-yellow color and an intense aromawith fruity and floral notes.
It is made pure or a minimum of 95 percent from Vermentino grapes. There is a wide variety of Vermentinos on the island, but the most famous comes from northern Sardinia: it is Vermentino di Gallura, to which an event called Welcome Vermentino, which takes place in the city of Olbia.
The gifts of the sea: the mussels of Olbia
Olbia mussels, grown in the city of the same name, are really tasty. They enrich appetizers and first courses with their unmistakable fresh taste, enhanced by lemon juice or tomato pulp.
Their history has distant roots and began in 1920, when some entrepreneurs discovered that the Gulf of Olbia had ideal characteristics for raising this type of shellfish.
Since then, the Olbia mussel plant has been among the most important and productive in the Mediterranean. Mussels are an unfailing specialty on local menus and a grand festival is dedicated to them, which takes place during the Feast of San Simplicio in the month of May
Tradition is...Gallurese soup
Gallurese soup (suppa cuata or cuatta) accompanies the famous malloreddus on most agritourism menus. It is a symbolic dish of the agro-pastoral tradition, with ancient roots that go all the way back to the Middle Ages.
The dish is linked to peasant culture and consists of few but genuine ingredients: bread, cheese, herbs, broth and seasonings. This rustic and tasty dish is counted among the "poor dishes" but its taste, it is worth remembering, is very rich.
In Gallura it is found in farmhouses and also in restaurants. Traditionally, however, it is prepared for important occasions such as wedding banquets and village festivals.
Mazza frissa, the tasty Sardinian semolina!
Not everyone knows about Mazza Frissa and that is a shame. It is a typical Gallurese dish passed down from generations, simple to prepare, delicious and nutritious. It is offered in several agritourisms among the appetizers, and it is not uncommon to ask for seconds. But what are the ingredients of Mazza Frissa?
Mazza frissa is made in a few minutes with sheep's cream; semolina flour and a little honey. The sheep's cream can be substituted with cow's cream, the important thing is that semolina and honey are not missing.
It is counted among the poor foods: often, peasants would prepare it and let it cool to harden. The next day they would slice it and take it to the fields to eat, accompanied by the inevitable honey.
From the heart of bread, Ozieri's Spianata
Add some cheese, cold cuts and the snack is ready. Spianata di Ozieri is a soft bread of ancient origin, with a round shape and appetizing taste, perfect for a sandwich made with typical products or to accompany appetizers and main courses.
Even today, spianata is prepared as the housewives of old used to do, its flavor remains unchanged for days and it has literally been "the daily bread" of Ozieri and its environs for centuries. The processing is long and requires effort and patience, but the result is exceptional.
Not everyone knows that there is a sweet version of Ozieri's spianata, with milk and yogurt, which is just as good. The tastiest way to eat it, though. according to the Sardinians is in the "puppias" version, with sausage dollops and cheese (also spreadable pecorino). You can taste it during a grand event held in Ozieri every year: Su Trinta'e Sant'Andria.
Moments of sweetness ... with Honey Rujoli.
Rujoli are typical Sardinian sweets that take on different names around the island (Rujoli in Northern Sardinia; Rujolos in Barbagia etc.). One rujolo leads to another, and it seems to be the case, given the sweetness of the mixture made with ricotta, vanilla and other ingredients that make rujoli special.
They are prepared with simple ingredients such as flour; eggs; lemon; orange; oil; sugar and fresh cheese, fried generously and enriched with generous spoonfuls of honey. The delicious cheese balls are served warm, often at Carnival time but not only.
Everyone has their own recipe, passed down through generations, which involves the use of different cheeses and special types of honey. Adults and children love them, and once tasted it is hard to do without.
Handmade pasta, from ravioli to malloreddus and beyond
The tradition of artisanal, homemade pasta in northern Sardinia has lasted for thousands of years. Malloreddus or Sardinian gnocchetti and ravioli are among the best-known types, but alongside them we find lesser-known and equally good artisanal pastas. Have you ever heard of, for example, fiuritti, taddarini and fuglioli?
The first two are a type of long pasta, perfect for preparing dishes with meat or fish sauce. The fuglioli, on the other hand, represent the Sardinian version of the classic lasagna. They are presented as sheets of fine pasta ideal for making the famous dish topped with meat sauce or its tasty variations.
The artisanal pastas of Northern Sardinia derive from the peasant or seafood tradition. Symbol of the latter today is fregola with clams, also prepared with different seafood, vegetables or other seasonings.
Peretta, provolone and pecorino: the TRIS of cheeses to enjoy
Central Sardinia is famous for producing excellent Sardinian pecorino cheese. Northern Sardinia, however, has nothing to send, as much about pecorino, which is delicious, as about cow's milk cheeses. In the North, we find excellent dairies and mini dairies that carry the Sardinian flag high in the world.
Definitely worth trying at least once are peretta, fiore sardo, and provolone. They can be added to an appetizer dish, used as an ingredient for first and second courses, or enjoyed with a sandwich, preferably with an Ozieri flatbread.
The Sardinian dairy tradition is very old, and many cheeses are made according to techniques passed down through generations. What's more, in most cases, the milk comes from free grazing animals and takes on the unique flavors of the production area.
Seadas: more than a dessert, a true MUST
It is said that dessert represents the seal of a good meal, and that is indeed the case. Seadas is a true must-have in Sardinian cuisine and not only in Northern Sardinia. This dessert is now appreciated and known even beyond the island's borders. It is loved by Sardinians, tourists and is a must on every menu.
The main ingredients are cheese and honey, which is added after frying the seadas. Some just add sugar and even jam to it, following personal recipes. The secret of seadas lies in the quality of the cheese of course. Usually the filling is made of cow's cheese, such as peretta, or pecorino.
According to some sources, the meaning of "seadas" would derive from the Spanish word "cebar," which in Italian we can translate as "cibare, feed." Others consider the term to be exquisitely Sardinian in origin and would give it the meaning of "unctuous," because of the glossiness of the dessert when honey is added.
Timeless panadas, good even for breakfast!
Panadas are a variation of the classic savory pie; they are small in size and contain different ingredients depending on the area of production. The most famous in northern Sardinia are those from Oschiri, which are inevitable at local festivals and those throughout the island.
The filling of panadas can be made with veal, pork or lamb, enriched with spices, or with vegetables, potatoes, artichokes and even fish (in some areas eel is used). Lard, lard, and seasonings such as oil and pepper are essential because they give panadas a really tasty flavor.
Today it is not uncommon to find them in street food, because panadas are a perfect "walking" specialty. Some people even eat them for breakfast instead of salty pizza or focaccia, because they are nutritious and satiate at least until lunch. Definitely worth trying!