|Inside Pilu at Freshwater, Moore Road, Freshwater|
As a large island in the Mediterranean Sea, west of the main ‘boot’ of Italy, the autonomous region of Sardinia is known for seafood, rustic roast meats and the impossibly thin crisp bread carta di musica.
|Bread and carta di musica|
It’s a tantalising a la carte menu, but we’re sold on the Taste of Sardinia degustation menu that promises roasted suckling pig as one of the dishes, although sadly I was in no state for the matching Sardinian wines.
|Arancini of golden beetroot and provolone|
|Scampi con burro alla polpa di ricci – grilled scampi with sea urchin butter|
|Grilled scampi with sea urchin butter|
|Culurzones con burro, salvia e salsa di tartufo – ravioli of potato, mint and pecorino |
with burnt butter, sage and black truffle
Looking more like gorgeous pasties standing tall than your regular flat parcel ravioli, the culurzones of delicately-pleated thin egg pasta contained a smooth blend of potato, pecorino and just a touch of mint, served with crispy sage leaves and more freshly grated pecorino on top.
These parcels were probably light on their own but divinely rich with the sauce of burnt butter, sage and black truffle shavings. Each mouthful was a moan-inducing moment of pure bliss, making this the dish that was on my mind all night.
|Fregola risottata – fregola with tomato and cured meat ragu|
The pasta is rather cute and retains a nice chewiness, while the acidity of the tomato has its work cut out with the strong flavours from the diced cured meats, as well as the liberal amounts of butter from the prior two dishes.
|Alternative fregola risottata with wild boar ragu|
I actually preferred the lighter tomato ragu and eventually managed to get every single piece of pasta, difficult as it was in the end with a fork.
|Sorbetto di arance e olive disidratate – orange sorbet with dehydrated olive|
|Very cool dehydrated olive bits|
With service on the slower side of things, albeit professional, it had already been a couple of hours – and those of us who’d skipped breakfast were willing the dishes to come out faster.
|Filetto di snapper alla Vernaccia di Oristano e olive Verdi – snapper fillet |
with Vernaccia and green olives
The olives were a surprisingly good match with the crisp skinned fish; the slightly tart and salty punch just the thing with the mild snapper. The light sauce of Vernaccia di Oristano, a Sardinian sherry-like wine, tied it all together, making this a definite contender for second favourite dish of the day.
|Porcetto arrosto – oven-roasted suckling pig, served on the bone with condiments|
For seven of us, the pork on the bone arrived on two quirky, rocking cork platters – one served to our individual plates featuring condiments of candied orange peel, stewed apple slices and a minty pesto.
|Oven roasted suckling pig, served on the bone with condiments|
I’m not sure what part of the pig we received, but it was certainly a lean section, with some two-toned parts of flesh leading me to think that it was the shoulder.
Sadly though, I think my palate for roast pork will forever be spoilt by the gorgeous, juicy, shiny-skinned suckling pig at Porteño, which I doubt will ever find a match to its perfection.
|Rosemary roasted potatoes|
After the long, unhurried service of the previous four dishes, most of us found it difficult to head back for seconds of the pork when 4pm was nearing. And, of course, wanting to leave some room for dessert and the evocatively-listed ‘optional extra’ cheese course. Since when was cheese optional?
|Zippulas – Sardinian saffron donuts filled with cherries, |
served with ‘fior di latte’ sheep’s milk gelato
|Peretta Sarda con pan brioche e miele di millefiori – Roasted Peretta cheese |
with ‘millefiori’ honey and warm brioche
Stringy, quite mild and just a tad creamy, I think I would have preferred crackers (or more carta di musica) over the buttery brioche. The dried grapes were the perfect sweet antidote, along with just a smidgen of honey with each bite.
|Petit fours - (from left) lavender bread, white wine marshmallows, |
and almond and pistachio torrone
The triangles of marshmallow were good fun; with quite the strong scent of (unidentified) white wine although little in the actual taste. My favourite was the torrone, a gooey block of nougat studded with crunchy almonds and pistachios. The slight contrasting salt of the latter was a wonderful flavour note to end on.
|A painting I could not stop staring at in the restaurant|
On the positive side, I had ravioli and roasted cheese to dream of, and an overall awesome (let’s face it) day at Pilu at Freshwater. Nothing quite like a four-hour taste of Sardinia lunch to deal with seediness. Hangover, what hangover?