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Eating Well in Sardinia
Sardinian cuisine is sharply divided between hearty, meat-based dishes from the interior and Mediterranean seafood fare with Catalan and North African influences along the coast. Meat dishes are most commonly veal, roast agnello (lamb) and agnellino (an even younger lamb), or porcheddu (roast suckling pig, most often available at Easter). Cavallo, or carne equino (horse meat), is also a common specialty of Sardinia; it's generally served in the form of a bistecca (thin steak), which can be a bit chewy, but when properly grilled, also intensely flavored and delicious. Homemade pastas might be topped with a wild-boar sauce. Finally, Italy's original and best, pecorino cheese, made from sheep's milk, comes from the rugged slopes of the interior.
Langouste or aragosta (lobster) is a seafood specialty of the northern coast that can get expensive. Looking for the unusual? Try the ricci (sea urchins), which, unlike the Japanese uni, are served atop pasta. Bottarga, another prized Sardinian product, is a dried, cured tuna roe that's best when shaved off a block directly onto spaghetti or with butter on crostini (thin slices of toasted bread). Foreign conquerors left their legacies of bouillabaisse (known here as zimino), paella, and cus cus (couscous), also called cashkà.
Native pastas include malloreddus (small shells of bran pasta sometimes flavored with saffron), culurgiones (the Sardinian version of ravioli), and maccarones de busa (thick pasta twists). And crispy bread called pane carasau (carta di musica in Italian) is typical island fare. Prized around Italy and around the world is Sardinia's amaro di corbezzolo, a honey with a slightly bitter and dazzlingly complex bouquet and taste. It's made by bees that suck nectar from a plant known as arbutus, the tree strawberry. A popular after-dinner drink, the traditional liqueur mirto, is made from wild myrtle berries found only in Sardinia.
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