Experiments and Experience…

Posted on August 30, 2011


Dear Sunday Dinner,

This was more of an “experience” than just a dinner out! There was a party of 13 with 4 kids and we traveled to the top of the mountains to have an amazing dinner extravaganza at a place called Agriturismo Sa Crescjia Ezza. The concept of the place is that everything that they create and serve is right off of the land. The farm is gorgeous and must be a spectacular view during the day. We arrived past 9pm and were seated at our reserved table. From what I understand this was a “passa parole” type of place. In English, we would say, “word of mouth.” Every table was full and there was not a menu in sight. The entire dining area was lined from floor to ceiling glass windows and doors to the outside. Everyone was served the same things and all of the workers were fast and efficient in changing our plates and silverware between each course!

The experience began with fresh grilled eggplant and roasted peppers, some typical super thin flat bread called pane guttiau. This is thinner than a tortilla chip but large sheets that are about 6 by 5 inches. There were also some cold cut meats and cheese such as prosciutto and salami and pecorino. On the table were jugs of wine and water. There was also some sort of fritters that I forgot to taste. After the cold courses a few waiters came around with some of the thin toasted bread with melted cheese…umm Yum! It felt like we were truly at someones house, not a restaurant, and it reminded me of a private party with servers carrying trays with appetizers to the guests. Each different treasure was brought to the tables and would be served right to you if you wanted to test it. My favorite old Italian guy was the Ricotta and Honey man…this might have been the best thing since Vice gelato…! He would come around with a wooden plank of fresh made ricotta and slice a perfect portion, slide it onto your plate and then behind him a kid would hand him a hot-pot full of special honey that was warm. Then he would perfectly drape a layer of honey over the slice…heaven on a plate! Everyone enjoyed this treat and it was something I will never forget. This is only the start of this “experience!” There is much more courses and drinks….

I agreed that I would try everything that was brought to me but when I tried just a tiny taste of the next small plate…I knew it was something or an organ from a farm animal! Eww…It was tripe….intestines…I think! No thanks…next dish. I am sorry to be gross but if you like tripe fine but the texture was just wrong. I felt like once it hit my tounge that the tripe actually swelled and I made myself swallow it as fast as possible! All I kept thinking was ewww this intestine will soon be in MY intestines….moving on!

Next was a special pasta that is typical here in Sardinia called gnocchi is malloreddus…which is like teeny-tiny gnocci pasta. The language of Sardinia is one all its own. Along side this dish was fresh made ravioli. I am sorry family but these ravioli are probably the best I have tasted! Inside was fresh ricotta and lemon rind and some other secret spice. The red sauce was a little chunky yet sweet and strong. The tiny gnocchi were a big hit with the kids. After the pasta it was finally time for the pork. I was nervous when a friend of theirs was telling me that they serve pig balls and that I would have to try them!! I did make an agreement so if I was having pig balls for my main course…so be it! Gladly, it was not..it was just roasted pig that was just salty enough and was perfect. I didn’t enjoy seeing the pig head on the same plate but not much I can do about that. This farm seriously loves honey…on everything! Before the meat came there was a salad type dish passed around with carrots, tiny tomato and romaine leaves layered on an oval plate. And a tiny dish of honey to dip the vegetables in…carrots and honey make sense but tomato and honey did not.

Another pork dish was served by another waiter with olives and a thin sauce. I prefered the roasted dish much more. The olives were a little strong and by then I was so full I thought I wasn’t going to fit to get out of my chair! I thought it was finally over but then I was reminded that there was a dessert course too! A server brought something like a “fried cheesecake” but better. It was more like a fried puff pastry with cheese inside and then layered in (of course!) honey!  It was very sweet and a great end to the dinner but I could only have about half of the tiny thing. Then…there was grappa and mirto for “digestion!” It is true that these drinks help to digest and relax you after large meals and it does work. I tasted the grappa and as always it makes me say, “umpgpghg!” I close my eyes and shake my head every time I test it…I just will never come to prefer the taste! Mirto..always something I will have. I like it so much that I plan on taking a bottle home to the states to share. Mirto are special berries that grow on the trees only in this region…once we actually got off the ship upon arrival the smell was so strong and intense that I had to stop and ask what that smell was! It is not bad but it is something that you notice right away. But as any place you get used to it right away and forget the next moment.

More about food…I don’t know how this happened but T and I went from talking about making chicken tacos for dinner to me helping get rabbit meat off the ugly bones while starring into the severed head of a rabbit still with little teeth and a beard! I don’t like that the butcher cuts the rabbit bilaterally! It is like they take a super strong blade and slice it between the eyes down to their innocent cotton tail!! It is not easy for me to enjoy meat when I see it’s face…actually on Sunday after the two rounds of pig another waiter brought a full on half (same slicing manner) and tried to offer it to us. Once I saw the entire pig I was again turned off by the sight of it.

So we went from chicken tacos to rabbit wraps?? I guess…I will of course try it and help to prepare this “experiment” as T says. The kids, the lucky ones, they get crepes for dinner! I got to help prepare the batter and once we have dinner the plan is to go “downtown” to the town center. For now…I just had my afternoon coffee and am enjoying some peace and silence around here.


Posted in: When in Rome