“Aw, crap. I think I’m eating donkey. Oh, well. Who ever knew that donkey tastes so good? Tastes nothing like chicken, though.”
I had this little conversation with myself during the umpteenth course at Agriturismo La Colti somewhere outside of Olbia, Sardegna on a warm spring night. Mrs. NH had sought out another great restaurant and managed to program the Garmin nüvi to get us there.
Before that thought hit, we were served with course after course of good food. We had artisan gnocchi (also called Gnochetti Sardi), gently fork-dimpled just enough to hold a generous coating of meat sauce. The gnocchi was a firmer consistency than I was used to but Mrs. NH was happy to finish what I didn’t. The other dish that stuck out was the puffy, pastry/lasagna-like dish. It’s pictured at the top-left of this post so if you know what it is, let me know. Topping that all off was a tender, fatty suckling pig (Porchetto Mirto) served on top of some myrtle branches.
But back to the burro.
So, there I was, in the middle of a freshly prepared, delicious, typical Sardegnian meal wondering if I was eating Eeyore. Donkey is apparently a typical dish in those parts. Luckily, I’ve eaten plenty of weird things in my life and the though of it didn’t bother me too much. But it did get to the crux of my only beef (pun not intended) with the meal at La Colti. There were some awesome dishes but as it was pre fixe, nothing was written down and when plates arrived I had little idea what most of them were. The girl who slapped them on the table said what some of them were in rapid Italian but others she just placed on the table and ran off looking like she was about to go put out a fire on the roof. Sure, I could tell there were tomatoes on the plate and I managed to catch the word for pork in the split second after she slammed the plate down and disappeared into thin air, but lots of other things just got devoured without knowing exactly what they were.
Also served were local wines in La Colti labeled bottles and a super-tasty jug of Mirto for dessert. Those, I had no problem identifying.
That said, it was all good. I’m afraid I’m just not in much of a position to tell you what all of it was. But I did catch one word in particular. “Pecora.” It sounded like Pecorino so even the slightly mirto-dulled synapses in my head fired enough to register it. And, I remembered the word until the next day, 99% sure it was Italian for Eeyore. When I pulled the Italian dictionary from my backpack, I was relatively pleased at what I found. Pecora – Sheep. Huh. Not baaaad. Better yet, I can still record episodes of “My Friends Tigger and Pooh” for Little NH with a clear conscience.
It has been a sunny but windy day here. Travel to other beaches by boat has been impossible. Relaxing on the porch, napping, and sitting on the small beach in front of our hotel have been the better options. Here’s a look:
And, this guy had it all figured out. Dressed in a camo wetsuit, he was off to catch dinner. Wait a minute, is that Scampwalker?
Lots of windy day blogging to post!
We headed out of Cala Gonone today on a small boat toward the beaches that dot the coastline. This area of Sardegna has some great beaches – deemed the best in Italy. We took a direct boat as the “mini cruise” boats were sold out by the time we got to the harbor this morning. We were told we didn’t have to reserve in advance, but it was not to be. This turned out to be a blessing, however. The “mini Cruise” boats were glorified rafts and taking little NH on one of those would have been an exercise in really bad parenting. Instead, we took the 2-way boat to the Cala Luna beach.
Enormous caves line the beach – about 7 or 8 in all. The beach itself is a mix of sand, pebbles and stones. The waters are a clear chilly blue and give the whole stretch of beach a beautiful blue hue.
The beach itself was fairly full of people. Ferries from different tours came and went most of the day. People splashed in the water, undertook various rock-climbing activities on the sheer cliffs that lined the beach and others just took naps like beached whales. There were lots of people there but not too many. I can imagine it would be another story in the high season.
So, was it one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy? It was gorgeous, to be sure. But, I like the ability to come and go at my own speed. I also like to take a mid-day break from the beach to go gorge myself on some great Italian meal to better facilitate the afternoon nap. There is nary a restaurant here, save for one that appears to be over a small pond and behind some bushes. (We brought our own beer and sandwiches so we didn’t have a look.) So, if you like just beach – this is definitely one of the most beautiful. But if you like the occasional beer or Negroni with (or as) your afternoon snack, this may not be the place.
Oh, one more thing on this beach – there were cows. As soon as we pulled up and disembarked, cows. Life is full of surprises.
We’ve headed south a bit to a more relaxed area. We’re in Cala Gonone and it resembles a fishing village turned tourist mecca. There are the requisite gelato stands and cocktail bars serving the necessary Italian beach drinks accompanied by plenty of chill out cocktail music. But it’s small and totally without pretense. Far away are the yacht yards of Costa Smeralda surrounded by sparkling strip mall style settlements. This is much more of a family place. As I sit on my balcony in the Miramare Hotel, I only see one boat that could be considered a yacht and several smaller boats that would classify as rubber boats with motors. Frankly, it’s a nice change. With my 5 t-shirts per trip maximum, I really didn’t fit in up the road. Here, I look like just another comfortable, scruffy, road-warrior dad.
Dinner was on the balcony of our hotel room overlooking the harbor. It was 9 euros and in the form of 2 Margherita pizzas. Well, that and extraneous bottles of wine. Great company on a great night.
Right before we headed out to the beach, I saw a link on one of my favorite blogs, Instapundit, where there was a recommendation for the Kodak PlaySport video camera. My 3-year-old Sanyo HD camera is a bit long in the tooth so I decided to take the “plunge” on this $250, waterproof marvel. So far it has been a great little unit. It is in my pocket everywhere I go, including the ocean. At that price, I’m not bankrupt if something happens to it so I have taken a lot more videos.
The picture itself is clean and crisp (at least on the laptop I’m packing). Compared to my older Sanyo, everything about it is faster. That’s nice when trying to capture a little kid living it up in the ocean. For a little example of the video quality, I’ve took a short video of today’s lunch. Caution: Video of extreme relaxation below. Do not watch from the office…
EDIT: Nope, there was a topless woman at the very tail end. Seriously. So I had to pull it from YouTube. Sorry. Maybe later.
We’re a little over a week on the road today and part of that road was in the form of an overnight ferry from Rome to Sardegna. The ferry ride was a new experience but nothing too wild after all was said and done. The cabin was spacious and all three of us had a decent night’s sleep.
The time in Verona (pictured above), Rome and the Amalfi Coast with family was a hoot. We’ve been lucky to see the NH Grandparents in quite a few cool locales over the past 5-6 years and this time was no exception. The food was great, the wine and lemoncello were excellent and the company was even better.
I expect to have a few more casual, non-road days coming up so be on the lookout for some new posts from this part of the world.