Making Culurgiones

Sardegna Turismo tells us that Culurgiones, a typical stuffed pasta “bundles” are:

Culurgiones are a variety of ravioli, typical of the Ogliastra district, prepared with a simple water and flour dough and a filling consisting of potatoes and acid cheese (casu de fitta), shaped in the form of an ear of corn ending in a sort of pointed horn.

I’ve never seen them as ears of corn, but as a very interesting form of ravioli, made by pinching the dough so that it appears to be stitched together without the seams showing.

In any case, thanks to book learnin’, a couple of cooks in Philly were able to master Culurgiones in but three months. Here’s how they did it:

Making Culurgiones originally appeared on Dec 12, 2013, © James Martin


Ever Try Orziadas? It's Fried Sea Anemone Time!

What do you miss when you only travel to Italy during the warm summer months? Well, lots of seasonal foods, that’s what. Take Orziadas, for example, Sea Anemone we might call them, specifically Anemonia sulcata. This is their time. To be eaten I mean.

Here’s how you can have them, according to Orziadas, il sapore del mare

  • fried
  • Spaghetti with orziadas and bottarga di muggine, gray mullet roe
  • Pizza with orziadas (with bottarga or sea urchins)
  • Crostini with a cream of orziadas
  • Spaghetti with orziadas and cherry tomatoes

You’re more likely to find them along the coast between Cagliari and Oristano, as they are found in the waters around Oristano.

And just in case you wanted to learn about the life of Anemonia sulcata related in French (it’s your lucky, multicultural day!) look down below:

Ever Try Orziadas? It's Fried Sea Anemone Time! originally appeared on Nov 12, 2013, © James Martin


Unusual Pasta Shapes: Lorighittas

lorighittas pictureI like handmade. For the most part, Americans don’t like handmade food because it’s not cheap food. But, handmade employs people, and if you don’t think a few extra cents makes a difference, you need to come to Italy and get educated.

Last week I discovered Lorighittas. Ring pasta; the Sardinian word for ring is “lorigi”. Look at them in the picture, they’re a thing of intense beauty, symmetry, and all the things “ring” stands for. The double strands hold a sauce like nothing else. You can click the picture to see it bigger. They are perfect. They are handmade.

Get this: They’re only made in a single city: Morgongiori. Say it fast three or four times. It’s a tiny village near Monte Arci, where the oldest inhabitants of the island got obsidian for arrow and spear points.

My guide and mentor Paola Loi writes, “Originally the lorighittas were made on All Saints’ Day and the originally recipe was to serve them with a thick tomato sauce and chicken wings or legs. Nowadays they can be cooked with zucchini and shrimps, or artichokes and so on.”

Also: “In Morgongiori there is the Sagra delle Lorighittas on the first week of August with free tasting of lorighittas dishes.”

We had them at the fine restaurant in Cagliari called Sa Piola, Vico Santa Margherita, 09124 Cagliari. It’s in our app, Sardinia Inside Out.

Unusual Pasta Shapes: Lorighittas originally appeared on May 05, 2013, © James Martin


Ristorante Kilometro Zero: Cagliari, Sardinia

culurgiones cernia e bottarga pictureWhen you think of a restaurant advertising (and indeed naming itself) “Kilometer Zero” you think of staunch traditions that cannot be broken. In Tuscany the designation may imply rickety tables with worn marble tops inside a restaurant with a grandmother in the kitchen rolling pasta dough. Remove the marble table tops and you can say the same for Sardinia, which, as graffiti along the road constantly reminds us: “Tourists—SARDINIA IS NOT ITALY”.

But the name implies only that the food source is nearby. Such a moniker doesn’t prevent you from using such fresh and local produce in creative or unusual ways.

Welcome to Kilometro Zero, a stylish newish restaurant in Cagliari introduced to us by journalist Federico Fonnesu.

The room is long and narrow. The seats are clear plexiglass. The walls bounce every syllable; the place is loud when full.

This isn’t your granny’s pasta house.

(Re: noise. The owner explains that they’ve glued some rectangles of foam to the high ceilings to dim the noise, but it’s not much help. They’re looking into improving the situation.)

But let’s talk about the food. We are 5. The owner proposes a selection of starters and we pick and choose dishes to share. The house red we drink is a Cannonau. Not one of those big, dense, “international” Cannonaus that pack too much of a punch to drink with food, but a nice, subtle one that doesn’t overwhelm the well-conceived dishes, not even those based on seafood.

Most of the starters were seafood based. Standouts included the Culurgiones, little torpedoes of stuffed semolina dough, shown on the upper right, these stuffed with cernia and dusted with bottarga, dried fish roe, a nice interpretation of the traditional dish.

carbonara di mare pictureThe Carbonara di Mare was the traditional egg-based carbonara with smoked swordfish substituted for the pancetta. I liked it a lot. I could have eaten it for breakfast.

We chose three plates to share for a main course, a couple of traditional items—baked fish (selected from a platter of the day’s catch presented by the owner) and a tagliata (grilled and sliced steak)—followed by the blasphemous dish, the dish made of two components you’ve been warned by thousands of web sites to avoid combining, ever: fish and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese! But there it was and it was exceptionally delicious: Filetto di Cernia alla Parmigiana.

Then we were in for another surprise. All this food, all this variety, all this freshness and goodness, traditional and innovative, all this noise, the two bottles of perfect wine, all came at a very reasonable price. 25 euro per person, out the door!

kilometro zero outsideRecommended. Can I say more? Well, yes, it will be even better when they cover the interior with softness and you can actually talk to your table mates without shouting.

Kilometro Zero

Address : Via Grazia Deledda 68, Cagliari
Phone : 070668901
WEB: Kilometro Zero

Ristorante Kilometro Zero: Cagliari, Sardinia originally appeared on May 04, 2013, © James Martin


Montessu Necropolis

montessu petroglyphsAbout 2 kilometers north of the town of Villaperuccio in the southwestern section of Sardinia you’ll find the well-maintained Prehistoric Necropolis of Montessu. We had an interesting exploration of the area recently with guide Paola Loi, my partner in Sardinia Inside Out, who is shown inside one of the “domus de janas” or Neolithic cave tombs (witches houses).

cave tomb picture

montessu tomb entranceDiscovered in the 1970’s, the tombs are spread out over the southern slopes of Sa Pranedda in a natural amphitheater which offers fabulous views of the countryside. Various excavations have been carried out and the dates of the tombs range from the Recent Neolithic (3400-2800 BC) through the early bronze age.

Shepherds have re-used the caves until modern times.

There are some petroglyphs in the tombs (shown in the picture).

The Archaeological Civic Museum of Santadi contains the artifacts unearthed during the various excavations taken on over the years.

There is a small bar/museum/souvenir shop next to a large parking lot where you’ll buy your tickets and head up the hill (where there is very limited space for cars).

For more, see the Montessu Archaeological Area web site.

Montessu Necropolis originally appeared on May 03, 2013, © James Martin


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