Friday, December 15, 2017

Sardinia in Sarasota: Italian Regional Sardo Cuisine





The Mediterranean island of Sardinia has a wealth of traditions and extraordinary features, one of which is gastronomy. Sardinian-born chef Dino Carta began his love affair with food and its preparation in the Sardo kitchen of his mother and father. To this day food is a passion and evokes happy memories of family, so it came as no surprise that he opened his own a restaurant, bearing the name and featuring the specialties of his native island. The menu is focused on farm fresh locally grown produce, local seafood, house-made pastas made fresh every day with char-grilled meats and locally caught fish cooked in a wood fired brick oven as it is in Sardinia. A traditional Sardinian flatbread known as pane carasau, which harks back to the island’s shepherding roots, is baked fresh daily and arrives at the table to welcome guests as they arrive. Of the chef's signature dishes, the Sardinian-style mixed seafood paella with bottarga seems to tell the story of this island’s tortured history in a single dish: its essence is Spanish, but has North African influences since he replaces the usual rice with fregola, toasted round pasta that likely came to Sardinia from the Maghreb. Culurgiones, the traditional Sardinian moon-shaped ravioli whose name means 'little bundles', accurately describes these parcels of joy which are stuffed with Pecorino cheese and orange zest served in a vibrant pomodoro sauce. The hallmark of Sardinian hospitality is welcoming people to the table, and chef Carta's simple, fresh and authentic dishes, gracious personality and superb culinary expertise provide an absolutely delicious introduction to the island’s cuisine without ever leaving Sarasota.




We started with a Cantina Colli del Soligo Prosecco di Treviso Brut from Veneto

Chef Dino Carta's menu of superb Italian dishes

Jankara Colli di Limbara Lu Nieddu wine from Sardinia, a delicious blend of Cannonau, Caricaggiola, Pascale di Cagliari, Dolcetto, Barbera and Cabernet Franc

Chef Dino's pane carasau, a lovely crisp and delicious traditional Sardinian flatbread

Carpaccio di polpo con rucola e bottarga: Octopus carpaccio with arugula and bottarga

La zuppa di fagioli: Italian bean soup

Costoleta di maiale al forno con funghi e asparagi: Brick-oven roasted pork chop with shiitake mushrooms and sliced asparagus

Culurgiones con ripieno di formaggio e arancia al pomodoro: Pecorino and orange zest Culurgiones in tomato sauce

A glass of delicious sweet Sicilain Passito courtesy of the chef 

Roasted Aged Sardinian Pecorino on pane carasau with drizzle of organic local honey

Gelato Affogato

Chef Dino Carta graciously invited us into his kitchen for a chat about Italian cuisine and to admire his wood-fired oven from Modena










Culurgiones
Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of Chef Dino Carta

1 lb semolina flour
1 cup warm water
3 pinches salt
1 pinch pepper
1 1/2 oz ricotta cheese
1 1/2 oz fresh Pecorino cheese
2 oz aged Pecorino cheese
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp orange zest
2 oz butter
4 sage leaves
2 round dough cutters or 1 standard water glass


For the ravioli dough, pour flour on the cooking table. Progressively pour a mix of 2 pinches of salt and 1 cup of warm water over the flour. Mix with hands until the dough is soft, and let it rest for 2 hours. For the filling, combine the ricotta and Pecorino cheese in a blender. Pour the blended cheeses into a bowl with 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon of orange zest, salt and pepper, and mix with hands.

When the dough is ready, flatten it with a roller and cut it into 36 circles with the dough cutter or water glass. Spoon the filling onto the dough and fold it closed, in a moon shape. For the sauce, place 2 ounces of butter, 1 tablespoon of water from the pasta, 4 sage leaves and 1 teaspoon of orange zest in a pan and mix until the butter melts. Boil the water, add the ravioli and allow to cook for 4 minutes. To serve, combine the ravioli with the sauce and grate aged Pecorino cheese on top.