The Taste of Sardinia

Can you put the primary flavors of a place in Gelato?

Martha and I took a little stroll over to a place called Biscotto a few days ago for gelato. Biscotto is a bar in the town of Aulla that serves coffee, wine and other booze, breakfast pastries, home-made gelato, and more.

And there in the front row of the freezer we found a tray of gelato labeled “Sapori di Sardegna — ricotta, miele, and mirto. That is, ice cream flavored with ricotta cheese, honey and either mirto liquor or the myrtle berries it’s made from.

Sapori di Sardegna gelato -- ricotta, honey and Myrtle berries

It was quite good, a ball of frozen goodness you wouldn’t get the opportunity to lick in America for sure.

As we took a table and licked our gelato, a though occurred to me. The other primary foodstuff in Sardinia has to be the spiny, well, anything really, but a spiny artichoke, which you can get in many places in Italy. After working a summer on an archaeological site, I did understand that, on the island, every plant had evolved to prick and antagonize the sheep, which were everywhere.

And this extends to the cooks, I might add, who’ve been pierced by those hearty spines. (I just got the band-aid off today, by the way.)

Let’s Talk Ricotta and See Another Side of Sardinia

Ricotta is the often mispronounced fresh cheese made from the leftovers of the cheese making process. The word means “re-cooked” and the process of making it yourself is so easy, anyone with milk, a pot and a lemon can make it in the kitchen. Find the recipe on the web. It’s likely to be 8 times longer than this article, but you’ll have to live with it. Modern SEO is really something!

If you get your ricotta fresh, especially on the days it’s made, not more than 6 or so hours from production, you’ll think you’ve put the best thing ever in your mouth when you spoon some up.

Anyway, in Sardinia I decided to make a pasta with ricotta for the crew, so Martha and I headed for the little store and asked the kind lady if they had some, being ignorant of the seasonality of the milk flow in a country with very hot summers. “But sir, it’s summer, and this isn’t the time…”

So we changed course and made a different pasta.

The next day we went to the store knowing there would be no ricotta. When we sauntered to the front of the store with our haul, we were met by the kind lady we had spoken with the day before. I thought she had quite the eye problem, as hers darted from my face to the case they keep the perishables in several times. It took a while until I realized that she wanted me to look in there for something astounding.

Lordy, there was a twig basket. Inside was fresh ricotta. If it had a face, it would be smiling and begging me to eat it.

I shuffled over to Martha and when we were hip to hip I whispered to her, “how much do you think we’re supposed to buy?” as I imagined we could be banished forever from our local store for not buying something rare and painstakingly produced under duress from a local farmer just for the crazy Americans who were digging perfectly square holes in Sardinian soil for no pay at all.

We asked for a little ricotta, and after she measured out what we asked for, she dug into the basket and gave us some more. No use bargaining with us, we couldn’t speak a word of Sardo.

I don’t remember what we made with it, but it must have been good. So good, someone on the mainland made gelato out of the same ingredient.

To have some, make your way to Biscotto

More Stories About Sardinia

Cooking Sardinian at the Tenuto Li Lioni

Ristorante da Armando, Sedilo

Do You Need a Private Guide?

Autunno in Barbagia: Artisan Sardinia

There are Two Sardinias, and One of Them is Dying

Pinuccio Sciola: Hands of Joy

Ottana, Sardinia & The Amazing Church of San Nicola

Prickly Pear Concentrate in Sardinia: Sapa di fico d’india

The Taste of Sardinia originally appeared on , updated: Apr 05, 2024 © .

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