Alghero, Sardinia: “The Food Stuff”
September 11, 2018
First night: La Bifora
I picked a B & B for our first night in Alghero based on its convenient location, as we planned to drive to our self-catering holiday accommodation the following day, after stocking up at the market.
By the time we arrived, we were ready for dinner. The owner of the B & B, Angelo, was very welcoming, and sent us out with half a dozen recommendations marked on a map. Without them it would have been a bewildering game of hit-and-miss. There are “hundreds” of restaurants in the old city, all of which looked busy.
After some exploring we found La Bifora from his list, which had a large terrace. We were told they could have a table for us in about half an hour, so we decided to have a drink in the bar.
When the Maitresse d’ came to fetch us, she led us through the terrace area, and as we followed, she apparently disappeared through a doorway in a wall at the back. This took us up some steps to another upper terrace, on the city ramparts, with a view of the bay across the main harbour.
We shared a swordfish tartare to start, with creamy buffalo ricotta, a salty caper and Taggiasca olive pesto, and Canteloupe melon coulis; it was a cool, refreshing combination of flavours and textures.
Frittura mista del mare
Funky, hot, salty seafood, fried to perfect crispness. As well as prawn and squid, there was octopus “cooked at low temperature” before being fried, making it very soft and tender inside the batter.
La Bifora, Via Sant’ Erasmo. +39 340 403 5413
Ristorante, Pizzeria, Bar
Lunch at Mos Tapas (so good we went there twice….)
A tip from Stefano Chessa, a friend who used to trade at Borough Market, sent us to MOS Tapas Bar “Catalano Alghero”, next to the cinema. (Not the Stefano who sent us to Tenute Bonaria, another one, Stefano Vallebona; do keep up). Cristiano, the owner, is a friend of Stefano’s, and generous with recommendations of other places to eat around town.
His menu reflects Sardinia’s Catalan heritage, freely combining Spanish and Italian ingredients. “Food without borders” (At one time, like Nice, Sardinia was part of the Kingdom of Savoy, ruled from Turin).
Highlights of the tapas we ordered:
♦ Cherry tomato salad with crisp tempura aubergine, and crunchy sweet-and-sour cucumber and radish. Simple and perfectly executed.
♦ A rich and savoury salad, an unexpected combination of Burrata cheese, smoked sardines, cherry tomatoes.
Decent Vermentino by the glass, spot-on coffee.
And the view….
MOS Tapas Restaurant, Pizza Romana e Aperitivi. Via Giosuè Carducci 3. +39 346 495 2795
Shopping for food
The main pleasure of self-catering on holiday is being able to shop in the local markets. I know that’s not a holiday for everyone, but it works for me.
Surprisingly, Sardinia has no fishing industry, but there’s plenty of locally caught fish. We bought from one of several fish stalls in the Mercato Civico. There’s also a dedicated fish market on the harbour; one for next time.
Alghero is well provided with butchers; this aged beef steak was more than enough for two, and cost 11 euros.
We found two good supermarkets. Delta Coop was the smaller one, but better stocked, and seemed to be preferred by the locals. There was an impressive meat counter (they were butchering on site) and good-looking fish.
Carta di Musica
Antipasti typically include Salsiccia piccante, Prosciutto Sardo, Pecorino, and invariably Pane Carasau, a tasty, crisp flatbread. Olive oil seems to cling to it in a pleasing way, without making it soggy.
It’s also known as Carta di Musica, (music paper) apparently a reference to the days when paper was expensive, and a crisp bread could be used as a substitute.
Ice cream at La Golositas;
There’s a fantastic gelateria near the market. Their Alphonso Mango was sensational.
It’s closed after lunchtime – too hot – but the eating of ice cream continues late into the night, as an integral part of the sociable evening stroll, The Passeggiata.
A mini Gazetteer:
Mercato Civico, Via Cagliari / Via Sassari.
Supermercato Delta Coop, Via Guglielmo Marconi.
Supermercato Sigma, Via Sassari.
Gelateria La Golositas, corner of Via Cagliari and Via XX Settembre.