Across all the many islands of the Mediterranean you’ll find delicious and unique, traditionally produced, local delicacies.
In Sardinia, the best place to look out for good local produce is without doubt the open-air, farmers' markets. These are held in the mornings on different days of the week throughout the island. Our local representatives will be able to provide you with details of any market held near you.
What to look out for when you visit a Sardinian market
The local cheeses are top of my list of best buys in Sardinian markets. But which to choose? Many won’t even have a printed label, as they come from small, local producers. To help you pick out your favourite, the market traders will happily give you some tasters, however, the sheep cheese, Pecorino Sardo is the one that everyone recommends as a must try, as Jennifer Avventura, a freelance writer and author of ‘My Sardinian Life’ once told me “Pecorino Sardo is made from Sardinian sheep’s milk and curdled using lamb or kid stomach enzymes. It has a rich flavour which sharpens with age and is used in various ways: grated on top of pasta, consumed in bite size chunks with pane carasau or melted on a toasted panni. Pecorino Sardo has a flavour truly Sardinian, a flavour you won’t find elsewhere. Pair this sharp cheese with one of the island’s Cannonau wines. You will not be disappointed in the islands 5,000 years of cheese production.”
My favourite way to eat a few chunks of aged Percorino Sardo is drizzled with local honey.
Also known as Carta di Music (sheet music) this flat and crunchy bread is traditionally served hot from the oven with rosemary, salt and a little olive oil.
Wines and Digestives
You'll find many great local wines in Sardinia. Ones to look out for include white Vermentino or Vernaccia di Oristano and red Cannonau or Carigano del Sulcis plus there’s the delicious sweet dessert wine, Malvasia di Bosa.
Mirto is a popular local liquer made from myrtle and served chilled as an after dinner digestive. Mirto Rosso is made from the berries, while Mirto Bianco, is made from the leaves. Many restaurants will offer you a glass at the end of your meal. These are invariably homemade, stronger, and usually even better than that of the various popular brands available.
Seasonal Fruit and Vegetables
The Sard’s celebrate the seasons and wouldn’t dream of buying green beans from Africa in October; that’s the time for risotto or pasta with porcini, and apart from imported bananas, the fruit and vegetables you'll find on sale in local markets will never have travelled more than 30 miles to get there.
In April, the citrus fruits are nearing the end of the season along with artichokes while broad beans are at their best and bunches of wild asparagus are an expensive delicacy.
From this time onwards there is an abundance of fresh local produce in the markets, shops and on the road side stalls. Strawberries are the first fruits of the summer and are quickly followed by apricots.
In June, Burcei is just one of the towns famous for its three day ‘Sagra delle ciliege’ or cherry harvest and in July and August the peaches are at their best, prompting other ‘festas’ in various towns throughout the island. Curiously the first rains after the summer drought bring the dormant snails back to life and locals can be seen in the early mornings scouring the hedgerows for these perambulating molluscs, another good excuse for a festa.
October brings the ‘Sagre delle castagne’, chestnut festivals and it is autumn once more and the locals are flocking to the hills again in search of porcini mushrooms and the first citrus fruits hit the market stalls.
Best markets in Sardinia
Aritzo, piazza Bastione, Nuoro, Central Sardinia
Villa Sant'Antonio, Oristano, Central Sardinia
Putifigari, Sassari, North West Sardinia
Siniscola, via Deledda and piazza Sant' Antonio, Nuoro, Central Sardinia
Tresnuraghes, piazza Giovanni XXIII, Oristano, Central Sardinia
Arzachena, old historic town, Sassari, North East Sardinia
Villaputzu, South East Sardinia
Orosei, Nuoro, Central Sardinia
Bidoni, Oristano, Central Sardinia
Olbia, piazza Crispi and via L. da Vinci, North East Sardinia
Gonnosfanadiga, South Sardinia
Oliena, piazza Santa Maria, Nuoro, Central Sardinia
Paulilatino, piazza San Teodoro, Oristano, Central Sardinia
Aghero, via XX Settembre, North West Sardinia
La Maddalena, North Sardinia
Dolianova, South Sardinia
Dorgali, piazza Santa Lucia, Nuoro, Central Sardinia
Bauladu, Oristano, Central Sardinia
Santa Teresa di Gallura, via E. Berlinguer, North Sardinia
San Vito, South Sardinia
Nuoro, via Sassari, Central Sardinia
Santu Lussurgiu, piazza Mercato, South Sardinia
Castelsardo, piazza La Pianedda, North West Sardinia
Albagiara, Oristano, Central Sardinia
Villasimius, South Sardinia
Posada, North West Sardinia
Tempio Pausania, via Mannu, North Sardinia
Wherever you are I would recommend that you hunt out the local delicacies and seasonal treats. While you may occasionally stumble across something more unusual that may not be to your liking, you’ll discover many more things that will delight your taste buds. In my book, getting to know a place through its food is always a good idea.