Italy’s Magical Island of Sardinia – Cheese, Olive Oil and Salt

Sardinia, Italy
Sardinia, Italy
We are one of the few specialty markets in the Chicago area with such an extensive array of products from Sardinia,  located off the western coast of Italy. Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean, boasting over a thousand miles of shoreline and a bounty of wild and cultivated fare. Sardinia’s people are considered some of the longest living, making the island what National Geographic has identified as a Blue Zone―one of those rare places in the world where people often live past 100 (along with Okinawa, Japan and Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, for example) . The natives have become familiar with the longevity and even have an expression to celebrate it; “Sardo: A Chent’Annos!”(May you live to be 100).

What we find most fascinating about the little island is the incredibly distinctive flavors of the cuisine. They’re not just Italian in origin but a hybrid of influences, starting with the Phoenicians and then  followed by Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Moors, and Spanish, among others. The island was occupied by nearly every Mediterranean power for more than 2,500 years, until it became part of Italy in 1861.

Varied Olives of Sardinia
Varied Olives of Sardinia
Come celebrate the wonderful flavors of Sardinia. We’re glad to provide samples– just ask at the deli!

 

Antonio Garau, Sardinian Cheesemaker

Since 1880, and four generations later, the Antonio Garau cheese factory continues to produce typical Sardinian cheese, preserving the tradition of rich flavored cheese, one that’s almost lost but not forgotten.  Now nurtured along by current Garau generation, they remain faithful to their origins.  The Garau Dairy strictly uses milk from sheep and goat herds from Sardinia, fed only with indigenous herbs and shrubs. The resulting unique aromas and flavors are due to aging in the same cellars that have been used for 130 years.

Sardinian Pecorino
Sardinian Pecorino

We are proud to carry these marvelous cheeses and encourage you to come try them. Please ask for a sample.

Granduca Di Mandas –  This is a fantastic firm Pecorino, aged eight to twelve months. It’s strongly flavored and even spicy, with the aroma of dried fruits. $25.97/lb

Garau Cheese of Sardinia
Garau Cheese of Sardinia

Il Giunco – Here we have a ripened pecorino that’s pleasantly strong and spicy. The cheese is marked permanently from the traditional rattan basket in which it is made. It’s fantastic sprinkled on a simple fresh dish of pasta with a dash of salt and pepper. $25.97/lb

Colline Di Mandas Stagionato – This is the most traditional pecorino cheese from the Garau dairy, produced just like it was in 1880. It’s nutty, slightly salty and delicious. Add this to a cheese plate, sided by tart Granny Smith or Honey Crisp apple slices. $24.97/lb

Colline Di Mandas Semistagionato – A classic, this pecorino hails from an old shepherd’s recipe made from sheep’s milk. It’s then semi-riped from twenty days to six months. Pale yellow in color, it has a sweet aroma when fresh and pleasantly spicy when mature. Lovely to snack on with simple water crackers or a slice of freshly toasted bread. $24.97/lb

Antonio Garau Sardinian Cheese
Antonio Garau Cheese

Su Zinnibiri – The Su is a fruity flavored cheese with a hint of fresh herbs. It’s a bit sweet when young  and grows stronger in flavor and  intensity if aged over eight months. $24.97/lb

 

Frantoio Fratelli Serra  “Aristaeus” Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Not all extra virgin olive oils are created equal. They’re as different from each other as the olives from which they came. Sardinia is home to a handful of native olive varieties that over the centuries have so beautifully adjusted to the dry land and unforgiving climate: Bosana, Nera, Semidana, Ogliastrina, Manna, Olianedda and Pizz’e Carroga. Sardinian olive oil is as intense as the land it grows upon. The big brand names, and even some quaint-sounding versions, are often industrial blends of oils coming from the four corners of the Mediterranean. Not so for this hand-crafted oil.

Sardinian extra-virgin olive oil is notable for its fruity palate, golden-yellow colour (with greenish touches) and assertive aromas. These features come together to make a truly unique oil.

Sardinian Olive Oil
Sardinian olive oil has assertive aroma, and subtle fruity flavors making it truly unique!

The high quality of this Aristaeus”  Sardinian oil is in part due to the uncontaminated soil in which the olive trees grow. This gives the product a mark of distinction that’s garnered its great reputation across the globe.

This olive oil is made from olives grown, harvested, milled and bottled exclusively in Sardinia. $19.97/bottle

 Guseppe Macciocu Sea Salt

What better way to lightly salt a dish than with the indigenous rock salt from Sardinia. We find that it accents the food rather than making it taste salty. Sardinia is Italy’s main sea salt producer and its salt mines are vast.

Although salt is not generally considered a luxury product, it’s an essential part of the Mediterranean diet. Sardinian salt is highly prized by those in the know and it sure makes the most delicious scrambled eggs you’ve ever tried. Coarse or Finely Ground, $14.95/bag

Sardinian Sea Salt
Sardinian Sea Salt
Please let us know how you like these Sardinian specialties. We’re also glad to answer any questions. We are one of the Chicago area’s best wine shops and we want to provide you with the products you’re looking for. Schaefer’s Wines, Foods and Spirits has been around since 1936, serving as a neighborhood specialty wine, food, spirits and beer shop. We’re also a destination for wine collectors and specialty food lovers. Please visit our website to search for these and many more products. We’d love your comments and feedback.

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