Tag Archives: cheese

Nuoro

Nuoro was an unexpectedly fascinating stop. After the blue waters and white sand beaches of Santa Teresa teased me in the morning, I wasn’t all that excited to be heading back inland, and as we pulled into the town on the bus, it looked much more modern–with high rise apartments–than the some of the other charming and crumbly island towns. I had heard that there wasn’t much in the way of budget accomodations in the city, so I had made reservations at another B&B. The owner, Mario, came to pick me up from the bus station, and take me to the house, located outside of Nuoro, in the township of Monte Ortobene, which overlooks the city from the mountains.
Mario was instantly helpful, talking me to about Sardinia on the ride up the mountain, as soon as he heard about my research project. His two dogs greeted us as we pulled into the driveway and I discovered that I was the only visitor, so I had the whole guesthouse, a separate building attached to his house, by myself. From the terrace attached to me room I could see the whole valley, and in the distance, the sea.

looking down from Monte Ortobene

looking down from Monte Ortobene

I hadn’t been settled in long when Mario returned to tell me that his girlfriend and her mother had arrived and that they were all going to take a ride to see some “interesting houses” on the mountain if I wanted to join. I guess there are benefits to being the only guest.  I soon discovered that the two women were actually French, from Paris, and had grown up in the 15th arrondissement/rue Cambronne area, which is exactly where I’m going to be living this summer. As they said, “C’est un petit monde.”

goat cheese farm in a cave

goat cheese farm in a cave

The first place Mario took us was a little further up Monte Ortobene, and was a small goat cheese farm. What made it remarkable was that it was based out of a rock. A cave had been carved, over the course of thousands of years, into the giant toadstool-shaped rock on the mountain, and a local family had decided to set up their small farm around it. The rock was now outfitted with a little door, and inside was a simple fridge, table, and some beds, along with racks of cooling cheese. I felt a little bit like I was in The Hobbit as I ducked the rocky ceiling to step inside the small abode. Around back there were the goats, who roamed free on the mountains by day and returned at night to sleep and be milked. A small pony ran to the fence to say hi as we walked by. As we tasted the local red wine (apparently many families here have their own tiny vineyards so they can make their own table wine) Mario talked to the men who ran the farm in Sard, the local language, a non-romance language, that is not related to Italian. As we were leaving, Mario explained that since the farm is based around a rock, it doesn’t really exist in the eyes of the local government, so the family doesn’t really own it, or have to pay any taxes.

Not much further up the hill, we stopped at an agriturismo, another family farm that hosts gatherings, food tastings, and campers at times, and were greeted by a 900-year-old tree (or so the plaque said). The owner took us into his “rock kitchen,” where ancient looking hams were aging and dusty bottles of wine lined the walls. Here we got to try to the local white, sweet wine and as my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I could see the many traditional Sardinian carnevale masks that were hanging on the walls.

Nuoro is reputed to be the “cultural capital” of Sardinia, and it certainly seems to be true. The next day I went to an archeological museum and an ethnographic museum (where I saw many more carnevale masks), and as he said goodbye Mario encouraged me to return, saying that he could help me find more contacts to explore the island, which he described as “a little continent,” in the future.

 

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Thank You Princeton

For letting me come do research in places like THIS:
 

 

Santa Teresa di Gallura

Santa Teresa di Gallura

When I arrived on the ferry it was too dark to see anything, but the next morning, while waiting for the bus to my next destination, I was able to appreciate Santa Teresa di Gallura. Since it was just a short stopover, I didn’t get to actually feel those turquoise waters, unfortunately, but I loved the view. There was an old Spanish lookout tower on the rocks over the water, and the shores of Corsica were visible from the beach.

I did indulge in one of my favorite Italian foods however, at a restaurant called Papè Satan (it must be so named because it leads one to gluttony, since the pizza itself was heavenly). Buffalo mozzarella cheese. The flavor is hard to describe, but it reminded me how far Domino’s is from the real thing.

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Adventures in Cheese, Part 1

I like cheese a lot. I like trying new cheeses. I like most of the Corsican cheeses (all made from goat or sheep milk…they don’t seem to really do the cow thing here) that I’ve tried. But tonight at dinner I discovered that my cheese was alive.
I was really enjoying the brebis (sheep’s cheese), a hard, crumbly tangy cheese, included in the cheese course after my dinner this evening. Enjoying it so much that I decided to look more closely at it, and noticed little specks. Moving specks. As I examined it, I realized that these little mites were ALL over the piece of cheese. Agggh.
I had read about rotten cheese with mites being intentional on some of the islands, supposedly to give it a creamier texture. I’m not sure if this was what that was, or if it’s just something that happens but no one here cares.

However, I had just sliced these big pieces of cheese, and finished having a conversation with the nice old woman serving them about how good Corsican cheese was. So I couldn’t just leave it all on my plate uneaten with her watching and beaming with pride that a foreigner liked the cheese of her home country. I closed my eyes and tried not to think about it after scraping off the sides.  Mmm delish.

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Filed under Ajaccio, France