Words and photos by Denise Mansueti
“Abruzzo is a land of magic. A unique territory defined by the power of its natural beauty.” Denise Mansueti
While boasting charming preserved medieval towns where you can breathe the atmosphere and the culture of a world gone by, Abruzzo is the Italian region with the largest presence of national parks and protected areas.
Moreover, it is a place where the sea and the imposing mountains coexist, being so close that you can enjoy both landscapes in the same day. Here nature flows at its best through waterfalls, streams, gorges, and glaciers. It is a wild nature mostly unpolluted, but always a kind one. This special feature best describes not just the beauty of the region, but also the character of its natives.
With so many natural influences, this is the best zone for a stunning biodiversity to exist and flourish. And it is this biodiversity to be the founding element of the local fantastic gastronomy, that puts its roots deep down in the shepherding Apennine culture. Lamb and sheep meat are the cornerstones of the traditional cuisine, speaking of which, the most iconic dish undoubtedly is “arrosticini” (lamb meat skewer), followed by “coratella” (lamb interiors) and “agnello cacio e ova” (lamb cooked with cheese and eggs).
These three simple recipes, part of a long lasting gastronomic tradition, have been shaped by the same principles at the basis of the local agro-pastoral culture that, to prevent food waste, uses different parts of the same ingredient to prepare different recipes.
The real power of this region is the huge heritage of the spontaneous ingredients that it offers. Abruzzo is indeed a place where the land itself is the invaluable source of the best ingredients.
Bearing this in mind, experiencing Abruzzo we must appreciate those restaurants that adapt their menus to what the nature offers, enhancing the values of the raw materials that grow from the soil of this specific geographical area.
Pecorino, aglio e coffee powder
“Agriturismo Terra di Solina” in Capestrano stands as an important example. A fascinating place surrounded by wilderness where you can enjoy the different seasons at your very own table. They adapt their dishes to the truffle and mushroom season as well as to wild asparagus and “orapi” (local wild spinach) ones. If available, follow the host’s suggestion and go for the handmade ravioli filled with this local wild spinach and one of the best ricottas of the region, the one made by Gregorio Rotolo in Scanno: a main course that truly tells a story about Abruzzo. Their classics are worth it too, you will always find a dish with saffron, the coratella and the lamb meat, of course. They also celebrate another spectacular season: the cherry blossom one, when you can have lunch under a large cherry tree while your view is cradled by the fluttering flowers.
There is another place where you can live such an experience: “Agriturismo Sapori di Campagna”, in Ofena. This beautiful farmhouse surrounded by fields of olive trees takes its name from the farm where all the products they work with come from.
They produce and offer amazing cured meats, olive oil as well as seasonal vegetables and legumes. In the dining room the mise en place is perfect, with a great attention to details. Here you can have one of the warmest main courses of the entire region: “Sagnette di grano di Solina, Ceci, Zafferano” (a typical local pasta with saffron and chickpeas), a flavour you will never forget. Without any doubt this is the kind of comfort food to which you bind yourself.
These types of restaurants define the key concept of Abruzzo’s cuisine that is about making the most of humble ingredients.
And then Osteria Mammaróssa, in Avezzano. By way of illustration, the pictures below are examples of their daily proposal. Few people know there is an area of Abruzzo where a huge quantity of ramson grows: a kind of wild garlic “aglio orsino” rich in vitamins and minerals that only maturates in the woods between April and June. At Osteria Mammaróssa you can find the best way to enjoy this surprisingly spontaneous ingredient: “Spaghetto, Aglio Orsino, Pecorino, Caffè” and you will go crazy for its sharp taste. Here, the hosts’ daily work on simple raw materials aims to sublimate flavours, like what they do with the amazing “Tartare di pecora, Rapa bianca fermentata, Santoreggia” (sheep tartare with fermented turpin and savory). “Santoreggia”, a typical herb from our mountains, has powerful properties used to soften the taste of dishes of great impact.
Definitely, these are just a few of the many places where you can understand how simple, yet brilliant food is here. Let Abruzzo mesmerise you, experiencing it through a Gourmand Journey with BMJ get in touch with Andrea to learn more.
Abruzzo escape 1
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