Searching Sardinia’s gold

Everywhere you go, there is always some local food specialty or delicacy that you must try! In Sardinia, one of them it’s definitely  the Bottarga di Muggine (Grey Mullet Bottarga) from Cabras.

Bottarga is fish roe, extracted with its membrane still intact, lightly pressed, salt-cured and dried in the sun.

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Bottarga

In the small town of Cabras, halfway down the western coast of Sardinia, right in the heart of the Sinis peninsula they have been producing Bottarga since the 14th century. Here, a mix of fresh and salt water and perfect climate create the most ideal habitat for grey mullets and hence for fish roe production.

The word “Bottarga” derives from the Arabic term bottarikh, meaning salted roe (as a result, you’ll also find version where it’s written with letter “i” –  bottariga), which used to be a precious merchandise exchanged throughout the Mediterranean area. Inhabited by man as early as Neolithic times, during the bronze age, the area of Cabras learned the techniques for processing roe from the Egyptians. It was once humble fare, produced and eaten by fishermen when out at sea but, in the course of time, it became a delicacy appreciated by discerning connoisseurs throughout the world.

Bottarga from Cabras  is considered the most expensive but also top quality dry mullet roes in the world. Due to its high cost and beautiful amber to golden color it’s often called “Sardinia’s Gold”.

Bottarga made from mullet roe has solid texture and rich, briny fish flavor with notes of sweetness and very subtle bitter aftertaste. Its unique, perfectly balanced flavor is a must try during your holiday in Sardinia.

There are so many way to enjoy this delicacy, it really is just a matter or personal choice! My favorite way is with pasta “vongole and bottarga”, just one of the simple ways to eat bottarga! Grate it on top of your pasta to add an unique flavour, but be very careful, there is not coming back from it, you will be craving bottarga on your pasta all the time (I warned you)!!

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Pasta vongole & bottarga

Next time that you are in Sardinia, do yourself a favor and make sure you enjoy the Sardinia’s gold. We can tell you where to find it 🙂

Margherita & Stefano
Margherita & Stefano – Sardinia Local Tours

Sardinia, Sardines, Mullets and Bottarga

It is definitely something that generates confusion, but whether you believe it or not, the name Sardinia does NOT come from the fish Sardine.

Although it would make a very good story, and frankly, this theory could really make sense (it nearly got myself convinced lol), I had the duty to make things clear!!

So, here they are brief, but unequivocal definitions of “Sardinia” and “Sardine”:

Let’s start with “Sardinia”…

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We are the little red island on the west 🙂

“The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun s(a)rd-, later romanised as sardus (feminine sarda). It makes its first appearance on the Nora Stone, where the word Šrdn testifies to the name’s existence when the Phoenician merchants first arrived. There has also been theories that identifies the ancient Nuragic Sards with the Sherden or Shardana, one of the Sea Peoples, who gave Sardinia its name. In Classical antiquity, Sardinia was called Ichnusa (the Latinised form of Ancient Greek: Υκνούσσα), Σανδάλιον “Sandal”, Sardinia and Sardó (Σαρδώ).”

 

and now the fish “Sardine”…

 

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Our little fish friend 🙂 cute!

Sardine” and “pilchard” are common names used to refer to various small, oily fish in the herring family Clupeidae. The term “sardine” was first used in English during the early 15th century and may come from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, around which sardines were once abundant.”

 

 

 

It turns out that our little fish friends, Sardines, got their name from our beautiful island and not the other way around! And that is, I think, really really cool; on top of all the other unique and amazing things we’ve got in Sardinia (come with us and check with your own eyes from 21st to 30th June 2018, book now at http://www.sardinialocaltours.com.au), now we know, and I hope this is clear forever, that our magnificent island has kindly given its name to this cute little fish!

Although they have been named after Sardinia, sardines are not one of the most traditional dish of Sardinian cuisine , while without doubt, mullets and their famous salt dried eggs, bottarga, represent an absolute delicacy of the Sardinian diet.

But let’s stop here, as that will be the topic of our next blog. A journey through the amazing world of Bottarga, the iconic town of Cabras and its precious “gold”.

 

Margherita and Stefano

 

Where are you from?!

So, where are you from? Asked a curious lady, confused by my accent!

I giggled while an unstoppable smile get through my face, I said:- “I am from Italy!”

She goes:- “Ah beautiful, but what part of Italy?”

I know that my answer is gonna cause two types of reaction, most of people in Australia have been on holidays in Italy but they had never been in Sardinia or they might have Italian friends with Sicilian or Calabrese background, so they are familiar with these parts of Italy! It’s either you know where it is or you have absolutely no idea 🙂 Sardinia is still a little unknown, so I cautiously reply:- “from Sardinia!”

She rolls her eyes up and down, right and left, looking a bit confused she finally says:- “ah yeah, down the bottom!”

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It was exactly the reaction that I was expecting, unfortunately the one we always hear, so I tried to explain where I am from.

South Sardinia beach
South Sardinia beach

The more I talked about Sardinia, the more she got excited; I can’t stop talking about how amazing the beaches are, the food, the wine, the slow pace lifestyle, the history, the people… and when I show her pictures of Sardinia on my phone she goes:-“are these real pictures?! are the waters really that clear and the beaches like that? it’s beautiful!”

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Then she look me in the eyes and say:-“What are you doing here in Australia?! you should live there!”

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Home made biscotti

Truth is, I don’t have an answer for this question! We have now two places that we call home, Australia and Sardinia! We have amazing memories, family and great friends in both places and we have not intention to give up any of those!

 

After so many of these conversation, we realize that it was time to create a “bridge” between Australia and Sardinia. Connect these two places, share our home with our friends.

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Tramonto Torre dei Corsari – Sun set Torre dei Corsari

Sardinia Local Tours represent all those feelings and experiences in one thing. It’s watch the sunset on the west coast, it’s enjoy a glass of homemade wine at my dad’s house, it’s eating the pasta that nonna always used to cook for me, it’s discover the history of this mysterious island, it’s breathe its wild soul but most important, it’s the opportunity to share it with you.

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Tour 21-30 June 2018

We finally booked the tickets to go back home! We are so excited and our families are the same! They can’t wait to see us again, they are going to spoil us so much especially with food !!! Probably they have already start cooking… pasta, mushrooms 🍄, snails 🐌, seafood and home made wine. I’m craving all those things while I’m writing… One of the things I like the most are sea urchins… pasta with sea urchin or Porcini mushroom what a dream!!!

Porcini and Ovuli mushroom
Porcini and Ovuli mushroom

Yesterday during a Skype call they were deciding what to cook for the “dinner with family” during the tour. One of the options was lamb with wild artichokes, or the suckling pig ” su proceddu”.

There are so many thinks we will love you to try, that it is too hard to choose, we are going to pick our favorites! (There will be a bit of debate about it).

 

The other amazing thing is that every town has is own peculiarity in terms of food and tradition. Exploring Sardinia during our tour is also about discovering those diversity,  away from the mass tourism, eating with the locals, immersing yourself into an ancient Island that is part of Italy but it also preserve its own identity in terms of culture, food, wine and language; relaxing in some of the most beautiful beaches that you have ever seen, enjoy the sunshine and the sunset.

 

We can keep talking about Sardinia and our tour forever, but we think the best think to do is travel with us and and put some SA.L.T on your next holiday in Europe.

 

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Costume Sardo – Sardinian Costume

Visit Sardinia it is a bit more than just a holiday, it can fell like jumping in the past, we have a history full of superstitions, myths and legends. Traditional and some time bizarre food, incredible wine and colorful costumes.

Every of 377 communes in Sardinia has is own costume, in the same town there are different dresses to represent  the social status. Nowadays nobody use ‘il costume sardo’ (maybe just some very old women and men)  in everyday life, it gets proudly worn in special occasion like festivity of to celebrate the Saint Patron of the town.

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Cagliari festa di Sant Efisio – Festivity of St Efisio in Cagliari. Photo of Franca Loru

 The scarf or the shawl that covers the women’s shoulders is often the result of years of work, and pays testimony to an ancient art .
Fortunately this art can be still admired at the “Sagra di Sant’Efisio”, at the “Cavalcata Sarda”, at the “Festa del Redentore” in Nuoro and on other occasions such as the grand “Matrimonio Selargino” (a traditional Sardinian wedding) which is celebrated every year in the month of September in Selargius, a town near Cagliari.
During these festivals one can admire the actual costumes that were worn during festivals a hundred or more years ago.

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Cagliari Festa di Sant’ Efisio – Cagliary St Efisio’s festivity. Photo of Franca Loru

These costumes were made using ancient and mysterious techniques, that required not only a great deal of skill but also knowledge. For instance, the materials were dyed using natural plants and grasses; each family had its own secret formulas and techniques which were jealously guarded, and passed on from generation to generation within the family. There are still many secrets and surprises to be revealed by the costumes.

It is fascinating observing all the different female costume during those festivities and try to understand if the come from a village in the cost or in the mountain, if the represent a rich or pour family, if is the dress of the wedding day or the one the widow  wore.

The male costume is more austere and practical, there is always a wide white  shirt and a headgear (sa berrita)  given the length (about 50 cm) it can fall to the side, behind or folded so as to stay forward, the Calzoni (Cartzones) are always white and very large, of linen, cotton or orbace. They are often long, but the length may vary, and are insert into the hose. ‘Sa Mastucca‘ very widespread among the shepherds, is the sleeveless jacket of sheepskin or lamb (not always present).

Travel and discover the Sardinian traditions, taste its food and wine, swim in its crystal clear water, meet some of the over 100 years ‘nonni’ (Sardinia is one of the blue zone of the world, but let us tell you about this in another blog post) who will tell you all their stories of their time it is priceless.

We will like to show you a little bit of this incredible island during our tour in June (21-30 June 2018)

Our tour

TOUR2018When we talk about home our eyes always get shiny. It is impossible to describe with words the feelings we have every time we go back, see our family and friends, visit a new place for the first time or see another one with different eyes, because your prospective changes after you have lived for many years in Australia; you are a tourist in your home land, everything becomes more astonishing when you have been away for so long. cropped-bosa1.jpg

Escape from Melbourne’s winter for a Sardinian summer is priceless, the beautiful beaches, the sunset, the delicious food and wine, the warmth and I’m not talking just about the weather, it is a feeling that we get every time we are back in Sardinia!

We will love to make you feel how we feel, we want you to feel like home to learn about our traditions, our food, to meet our family and have dinner with them, we want to take you to a journey that you won’t forget.

We are sure that you will feel in love at first sight!

 

Margherita & Stefano

We are finally online..

We have been thinking about it for a very long time, we finally have made it!

We will love to thank our amazing families and friends for all their help and support, a lot of people who collaborate with us, some with moral support, someone else with technical support, or just giving us a picture or a suggestion.

Thank you very much for everything, now the journey begins.

 

apixedda

 

 

We love you!

 

Margherita and Stefano