Sardinian Christmas Food
Sarah writes: Christmas is nearly here and Sardinia’s cooks are now in their kitchens preparing for the annual feast. Fish is usually served on Christmas Eve before attending midnight mass, and then the real festivities begin.
Well the eating bit anyway.
Most of the dishes will of course be handmade, with vegetables picked fresh from local allotments. A typical Sardinian Christmas spread consists of some (if not all) of the following:
A mix of beautifully ‘presented finger food’: stuffed olives, filled vol-au-vents, tiny pizzettas, warm breads, wafer thin local ham, and sliced cured sausage. Overdosing is easily done here, but is to be avoided if possible as there is so much more to go…
The choices will be (depending on family preferences), Gnocchi al ragu: tasty homemade tiny rolled gnocchi with delicious thick tomato and meat sauce; Ravioli filled with ricotta and fresh spinach served in melted butter with sage; Pasta al forno: a much loved dish for children (and sensible grown-ups of course) and perhaps better known as lasagne.
Maialetta al forno: a wonderfully crispy roast suckling pig; Cinghiale al sugo: with the hunting season in full swing at this time of the year, wild boar is a near certainty.
Raw fennel straight from the earth is the perfect accompaniment to pork as the freshness combats the delicious fatty meat; Patate al forno: the meat will have been slowly roasted with a large tray of oily potatoes covered in chopped rosemary.
Tiramisu: a favourite worldwide with mascarpone, strong coffee and sponge fingers; sumer fruits soaked in Grappa, reminding you of hot days in July (the Grappa is ‘pleasantly calming’ for a rather full stomach); Panettone: the traditional Christmas cake that is always purchased (and not home-made) in beautiful bright seasonal wrapping and full of raisins and candid fruit.
Local wine will be an accompaniment throughout: fizzy Torbato to start with, followed by cool white Vermentino and full-bodied red Cannonau. Water will be the only soft drink on offer as Italians would never entertain a bottle of soda/fizzy pop anywhere near the table. A good selection of homemade ‘digestivi’ such as fruit liqueurs like Limoncino and the much loved Mirto, will be helping with digestion during the course of the afternoon. And also with the post-lunch snooze.
Should you wish to experience some of this wonderful food, the following hotels will serve these and other super dishes at any time of the year: Lu Ciaccaru, Hotel Rocce Sarde, Tenuta Pilastru, and Su Gologone.
Buon appetito e tanti auguri per un natale felice e pacifico!