There were plates: of tiny rolls of crisp pancetta, with crunchy fried mushrooms; a plate of chunks of funghi porcini slippery in oil, with a whisper of vinegar and slivers of bitter radicchio; a block of fresh sheep’s cheese the texture of close-knit bread, but cool and lemony; olives and artichoke hearts; pink slices of silky ham with a dainty frill of fat; more mushrooms, cold, black and tasting of fallen leaves.
There was a table of four blokes in orange overalls who I’d seen cutting back the herbage on the road side earlier; a couple of vigorous village elders who never stopped talking in the two hours I took over lunch; a middle-aged son and his mother; and a couple over by the window.
Then tagliatelle con ragu di bue rosso. Bue rosso – red cattle – are one Sardinia’s two traditional cattle breeds. Bue rosso is for meat and meat sauces. And, bloody hell, this was good – sinuous, slippery pasta with that faint flavour of malt and toast, holding its own with the bonny, big, beefy sauce.
This is why we come to Italy, I thought. It’s for food like this, potent, unaffected, direct, made with ingredients sourced from close by, in an everyday trattoria in a slightly out of the way village, where they just serve the dishes of this place and this season, mostly to people who know what the food of this place and this season should, and will, be.
Ristorante Pizzeria Le Sorgenti, via dei Pisano, San Leonardo (near Santu Lussurgiu. Tel: 0783 550226.
PS. Should you find yourself is Santu Lussurgiu by any chance, and want a very good lunch or dinner with a few more graces, try Sas Benas, where chef produces polished versions of local dishes made with very carefully sourced local ingredients. Grade-A wine list too.
Ristorante Sas Benas, Piazza San Giovanni sn, Santu Lussurgiu. Tel: 0783 550870
PPS. I’m sorry about the inadequacy of the photo, but to be honest, I was in such a frenzy of excitement I only just managed to take the one above.