Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sheep, hail and pasta nero in castelsardo

The weather has taken a turn for the worse with cold weather and some rain. As a result we decided to trim our exploring for today and head off to Castelsardo on the north coast. It was a beautiful drive over the green hillsides dotted with flocks of sheep except for the intermittent rain and hail. Historically, the Sardinians are a nation of shepherds. At one point some shaggy sheep were moving pastures and coming along the road. There were a lot of them accompanied by many tiny lambs. We stopped to let them by only to be herded and harassed by a little rusty coloured dog, which was incensed that we had stopped. We took his advice and moved along. He and his partner, a little black dog, both of them from indescribable origins had the sheep and us in perfect control.

Finally, we arrived at Castelsardo perched on a volcanic headland. The town has gone through several name changes. It was originally founded in 1102 by a family from Genoa and was known as Castelgenovese, a name it kept until 1448, when it became Castellaragonese, after the new conquerors. The current name dates from 1776.

Up in the town we walked around the small alleyways lined with shops selling local handicrafts. It was a lovely little spot. We decided to stop for lunch at the Bounty, a funny little restaurant. We entered on one floor and had to wind down an enclosed narrow circular staircase to the restaurant on a lower floor. It was originally the cantina or storage place in the downstairs of the house. The old stone walls were hundreds of years old.

Since it was such a miserable day we were the only visitors. The owner and chef made us feel very welcome explaining what he thought would be best from the menu and what was fresh that day. You could see his passion for food as he was talking to us. Seamus had some pasta in a light tomato sauce with some langoustine. I had the most delicious pasta nero with shrimps and pieces of langoustine. I can never eat a lot of pasta but I ate it all and the langoustines that Seamus couldn't eat.

Back in the hotel and another swim, I could feel the lunchtime pasta wasn't sitting well and it didn't. I had the same bug Seamus had the day before. Now I wonder if it was the hot salt-water pool. Whatever it was put an abrupt stop to today's travels.

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