Arrivederci summer, it was nice to see you…

The bad: Packed summers and empty the rest of the year

Sardinia’s a full-fledged tourist destination which means that when I first arrived here 3 weeks ago the island was packed with people. This isn’t the greatest situation for someone who’s not a huge fan of crowds and kishy tourist things…that someone being yours truly.

Finding parking spots are akin to a 3m board of Where’s Waldo, people on beaches are packed together like sardines, and ironically, I find the mega yachts that people are so attracted to here a part of the reason of the island’s loss of charm. There are a lot of great activities to do here that include underwater discoveries, exploring the countryside, and going to local eateries, but a lot of the focus tends to be on all the rich and famous people who populate Sardinia during the summer, especially the Costa Smeralda area.

87m long super yacht "ACE"

 

115m long "Pelorus" (previously owned by Roman Abramovich, currently owned by David Geffen)

However, as of last weekend the summer has basically been declared officially over. Many of the tourists who come are mainland Italians and I’ve witnessed a steady stream of departures, with the majority of mainlanders boarding ferries to take them all back to reality. It’s only been 3 days since the weekend and already restaurants are closing at 11PM vs 3AM, streets are deserted by 8PM and much of the livelihood I’d become accustomed to has now disappeared. Even the weather gods decided to give us a not-so-friendly reminder that summer’s over by gracing us with 4 straight days of cold and wet weather. I mean…I know this is something I should be used to living in England and all, but when I’m in Sardinia I expect certain things…sun is one of them. Needless to say, the 10-15 degree drop in temperature has left me slightly disgruntled…*sigh* I guess I can look at the positive side of things and be grateful I won’t be shocked back into reality when I return to the UK on Saturday!

hehe and on another positive note, the dreary temperature has also meant I don’t need to prance around in my bikini any longer. Sadly, the plan to control my eating and try to maintain some sense of portion control didn’t work out and the beach-ready body I had 3 weeks ago is no longer the case. At least I don’t need to feel TOO guilty about hitting up another agriturismo 😉

 

Two agriturismos in a row doesn’t do the body good

The good: Agriturismo continued

I went for another round of agriturismo because apparently one night just wasn’t enough! Monday’s experience was meant as a warm-up to Tuesday night’s dinner. I don’t think I warmed up enough because dinner absolutely obliterated me. We went to a wonderful agriturismo in inland Sardinia called Sa Crescia Ezza. We’ve experimented with many different places but to date nothing even compares to the quality of Sa Crescia Ezza.

So I did a pretty bad job of taking pictures the first night and decided to make up for my mistake…enjoy looking at all the amazing dishes that graced my palate. Sorry the pictures aren’t the greatest but I have various reasons for that:

1. I had to take the pictures as soon as I could before greedy hands could dig into the platters

2. Eating outdoors makes for dark lighting = not so great photos

3. I gotta take some blame too….I had to take the pictures as soon as possible also because I, too, wanted to devour everything in sight…

Italian gluttony

The good: Sardinian Agriturismos

Last night I tweeted: “Haven’t eaten in 24 hrs in preparation for tonight’s 13 course #Agriturismo dinner in T-1 hour”. In case you haven’t heard me speak of agriturismos before allow me to give you a brief overview.

For my Canadian counterparts it’s the equivalent of AYCE sushi at its extreme. It’s a 3-hr ordeal that consists of 13 courses (minimum) with unlimited wine and after dinner liquors. Here are a few things you need to know prior to going:

  • It consists of a rich variety of traditional Sardinian fare, which is all home-grown and homemade and is definitely something everyone should try at least once in their lifetime
  • It’s not for the faint of heart
  • It requires advanced preparation, hence the 24 hr starvation tactic
  • Due to the abundance of delicious meat products it’s not exactly vegetarian friendly. We happened to go to one that had a vegetarian (and gluten-free!) option but the real experience is fully appreciated by meat lovers
  • Typical dishes include:

Starters

-Various cheeses such as smoked Pecorino cheese and smoked ricotta cheese

-Various Sardinian sausages

-Zuppa Gallurese (a bread and cheese dish from the Gallura region of Sardinia…really yummy, extremely caloric)

First course

-Handmade ravioli (i.e. Ricotta ravioli with tomato and basil sauce)

-“Culurgione” pasta with tomato and basil sauce

-Sardinian gnocchetti with tomato and sausage sauce

Second course

-Porcetto (skewered suckling pig)

-Roast sausage

Vegetables

-Marinated vegetables in “pinzimonio” sauce

Dessert

-Seadas (A pastry filled with ricotta and drizzled with honey….SO GOOD!!!)

Honey coated seadas

-Coffee and various digestivos…MIRTO, LIMONCELLA, FIL’E FERRU

And so many other dishes that I know I’m forgetting…

Here are some tips for surviving an Agriturismo:

  • Dress in extremely comfortable and baggy clothing
  • Resist the temptation of over-indulging in every dish that’s served to you because you need to make sure you’ve got enough room for dessert..it’s a must have!!
  • Enjoy the meal and take it all in…it’s an unforgettable experience!!!

With that, I leave you now. Guess who’s going for her second Agriturismo dinner in T-1 hour? Yes, that’s right. Yours truly. That’s how much of a champ I am! Before I could only take one of those meals a year…now I can do it twice in a row!!!

A dopo,

Hazel

 

 

The Sarda Life

I’m pleased to report that as of Wednesday August 15, 2012 my summer of 2012 officially began. I’ve spent the past 3 months waiting for summer to begin…well more specifically, I’ve been waiting ever since I saw everyone’s beautiful pictures of May 24 weekend for the weather to make its way over to England. I waited and waited…I resisted from turning on the fireplace in June…I bundled up in my warmest wool sweater and enclosed myself in the warmth of my duvet and waited for the sun and heat to beckon me out of hibernation. I was fooled a few times. There were days where the sun playfully teased me into thinking it was going to make a long-term appearance but it disappeared almost as quickly as it came.

But the joke’s on you, England! Because I managed to escape your cold clutch and am now in Sardinia until September enjoying/suffering from a kind of a heat I haven’t experienced since my last summer in Sardinia. 38 degrees without a cloud in the sky…it would be unbearable if I wasn’t on an island surrounded by sea, sea, and more sea! But I guess I should now mention that it’s been 30 degrees in England for the past few days…the irony has not been lost on me.

Most of my days have so far been spent on various beaches and indulging in Italian cuisine. M’s family is here visiting as well so the days have been activity-filled and have left me with droopy eyes at 11pm. Those who know me should be well aware of the fact that in normal circumstances hitting the sack before 2am is preposterous.

Dip in the sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I stepped on the scale the first day I arrived and the number staring back at me read 64kg. That equals to approximately 140 pounds. I’m stating this to the world as motivation not to turn into a gigantic pig after my stay here comes to an end. I’ll let you know the final figure, but just as an FYI it’s only been 5 days since I touched foot on Italian soil and I’m really afraid to step on that scale now. Especially since I have 2 agriturismo’s coming up…stay tuned if you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about.

Since I’m here for 3 weeks this will give me a real opportunity to experience ‘The Sarda Life’. My goal is to write daily posts until I head back to England stating facts about the Sarda life. The good, the bad, and the ugly! Oh, and another FYI…it’s not all playtime for me. It’s 1pm and everyone has left for the beach. I, unfortunately, have sacrificed the beach day to work. The reason why I’m here for so long is because M had 20 days of vacation days left to use until the end of September (typical European vacation days typically amounts to 25 days :S). While we don’t have the means to go on a “real” vacation for 20 days it’s lucky for us that M happens to live in a place fit for the perfect vacation. So here I am on my computer “working from home”. So…I guess I should stop blogging and get started on my work, ya?

A presto!

Hazel

Sono arrivata in Sardegna

It’s been 3 days since I stepped foot onto Italian soil. I’ve been meaning to post the latest updates and while I apologize for the delay I can’t say I regret putting off being on the computer in replacement of eating, sight-seeing, eating, hanging out with friends, and…eating.

The trip didn’t start off in the ideal manner, but I guess it was fitting of an Italian vacation. i.e. Our easyJet flight was delayed by an hour, but meh- “c’est la vie”. Oh wait…that’s French. By the time we arrived the remnants of the day’s brilliant sun was already saying good-bye but what greeted us at home made me forget all about that. M and I left Bath while it was in a pretty miserable state. Rainy…cold…windy…and we arrived in Olbia with weather fit for an evening BBQ. Can you take a wild guess what we spent our first night doing? If you guessed eating, you’re only slightly correct. If, however, you guessed FEASTING then you are bang-on.  I’m used to one course meals. When I come to Italy I know to expect the full Italian treatment. You know what I’m talking about! Antipasti, Primi, Secondi…I had to suffer my typical “first-night-Italian-belly” (because apparently I’m “non resisto” i.e. I can’t resist food) and had a nice fill of wild asparagus/gorgonzola pasta, sausage, steak, bacon, pork chops, and strawberry tiramisu with whipped cream to prove it. I’d show you pictures of my stomach but I want you to continue to read and the pictures may put you off from doing so.

Sunday proved to be slightly unfortunate weather-wise but you gotta make the best of opportunities, right? After the morning rainfall I noticed a lot of snails making their way around the house and garden. Now I happen to know “The Nonna” (M’s Italian grandma) is a huge lover of snails so I made it a mission to collect as many snails as possible to give to The Nonna. I’m sure you’ve heard the rumours of making sure to stay on The Nonna’s good side because if you make one wrong move you can bet your balls that everything will be done possible to oust you out of the family. Fortunately for me, The Nonna likes me. I think my big cheeks make me irresistibly adorable and since I’m hardly capable of speaking the language there isn’t much I can say wrong (and we all know my big mouth has gotten me in trouble more times than I’d like to remember).

I knew my snail collection mission would make me go up the ranks even more and I know I scored big based on the widespread smile of delight on The Nonna’s face when I presented her with the efforts of my morning collection. For the animal rights activists out there I’ll spare you the details of how she prepares them.

The weather improved later on in the afternoon so we went for a walk around one of Sardinia’s nicest parks, Capo Figari. The walk to get to Capo Figari is one of my favourites since you get to admire beautiful water and the chances of spotting dolphins bobbing out of the water are pretty high since it’s close to a fish farm. I have yet to capture a really good picture of these dolphins, but I’d be more than happy to go snap-happy and provide you with photographic evidence…on the condition that you donate to the “raise funds to help Hazel buy a great zoom lens”. M’s grown up on the water and is a self-proclaimed island beach bum. He knows all the different types of fish and other aqua-marine species, gets more excited than I think is normal about finding a crab or starfish, can spot when wild hogs have been in the vicinity, and really wants to take me porcini mushroom picking.

So…like I said I’ve been here 3 days and have had pasta/pizza every single day. I’m going into carb overdrive and have a bridesmaid’s dress to fit into in 1.5 months. Should I be worried?