I love my new career.
Don’t get me wrong….nothing can ever replace the raw excitement of commuting to London every day, compiling a set of statutory accounts, or reducing aged debtors by a couple of days. But travel writing, and all the eating, drinking and exploring new frontiers that naturally follow, come a pretty close second to all that bean-counting and high finance.
Throw books into the new mix and that might just clinch the deal….
Thanks to my relationships with the lovely people at TripFiction and Silver Travel Advisor I went to bellissimo Sardinia in the summer. My first brief was to ‘stalk’ author Rosanna Ley, following in the footsteps of her own research and the characters in her novel, The Little Theatre by the Sea.
Here are some of the pieces I wrote for TripFiction:
I also wrote articles for Silver Travel Advisor, on both the area and – as Literary Editor of the Silver Travel Book Club – on Rosanna’s book:
The third prong in my Sardinian fork was – with my friend and colleague Mark Melling and our Great Escapations venture – to create captivating content and short films for Sardatur Holidays, a Silver Travel Advisor partner who kindly sponsored our time in Sardinia.
Gianni Bonuglia, Sardatur’s Managing Director, must have liked what we created because he has kindly asked us to make a new short film for an event he us hosting in London for travel agents and journalists.
But what theme should we focus on, when Sardinia has so many jewels in its glorious crown?
Food would certainly be one. Step forward Blue Sardinia restaurant, located close to us in Guildford and passionate about creating authentic Sardinian food for the good people of Surrey.
A couple of phone calls introduced Great Escapations and what we were looking to create for Sardatur, and Cinzia – one of Blue Sardinia’s founders and a brilliant chef – graciously and generously offered to let us film in the restaurant, as she cooked some pukka Sardinian dishes.
And I mean authentic…..
- first up, Sardinian gnochetti (traditional Malloreddus pasta) Campidanese with sausage ragout. Cinzia heats the pan, adds oil and garlic with that chef-like insouciance, in goes the fennel seeds and sausage, together with salt, torn basil leaves, red wine, fresh tomato sauce and a little bit of stock. Fresh pasta cooks for just 2 or 3 minutes, is drained and combined with the sauce, topped with freshly grated pecorino cheese – before being filmed by a creative cameraman and eaten by a greedy writer. Buonissimo, Cinzia!
- next up, black tagliolini with clams & bottarga fish roe. The freshly made pasta dough – the Sardo way, with flour and semolina – is made jet black by adding squid ink, and a little water. For the sauce, Cinzia marries clams, wine, chopped parsley, more wine, chopped cherry tomatoes and some salt. The fresh pasta is again cooked for just a couple of minutes, before being crowned with the clam sauce and some delicately chopped bottarga fish roe, Sardinia’s caviar. Wow!
Jonathan, sommelier at Blue Sardinia and one of Cinzia’s 6 brothers, poured outstanding Sardinian wines to accompany these dishes – a classic red Cannonau Sardiglia with the sausage ragout, and a delicious Vermentino di Gallura white with the clams & bottarga
See, I told you it was a tough gig.
Grazie mille, Cinzia, Jonathan and the whole team at Blue Sardinia. Looking forward to eating more of your superb Sardinian cooking, and I’ll send you a link to the final film for the Sardatur Holidays event very soon.
And Cinzia even taught me a useful Italian idiom:
anche l’occhio vuole la sua parte – literally ‘even the eyes want their share’ but really you eat with your eyes. Quant’è vero!
We’ll be in touch. Pronto.