Mirto The Liquor Of Sardinia

After spending a little time in Sardinia, you’ll soon come across the popular liquor Mirto, which is made from the Myrtle berry. It is commonly consumed as a digestivo (digestive), adding a sweet finish after a meal or as an ‘ammazzacaffe’ following a bitter coffee, but is popular to drink in Sardinian bars too.

mirto of sardinia

It is served in every restaurant in Sardinia, after a meal a shot of Mirto or grappa is typically offered.

The drink is only ever served chilled, sometimes a bartender will ask if you want ice, but from my experience, this dilutes the distinctive Mirto taste. An aroma of sweet herbs, and dried fruits, with a slightly bitter aftertaste of almonds.

The traditional Sardinian liquor is also popular in neighbouring Corsica, known as Licor di Mortula in Corsican. The myrtle berry grows freely in both islands, legend says that bandits from Sardinia introduced the beverage after spending time in Corsica.

There are two varieties of Mirto. The red Mirto is more common and sweeter made from the black myrtle berries, whereas the Mirto Bianco is made with the berries of the white variety myrtle berries, or the leaves of the plant, and has even more powerful digestive properties.

The myrtle berry grows throughout the Mediterranean basin but thrives in Sardinia and Corsica. This distinctive plant was also used by the Greeks, because of its restorative properties. Even actor George Clooney drinks Mirto when in Sardinia, he believes it makes him look younger. In ancient times the plant would adorn Roman and Greek temples to bring good luck, later rediscovered again during the middle ages for its perfume and healing powers.

The berries are collected traditionally before Christmas, but they are ripe anytime from December to January. The myrtle berries have a blue-violet colour, reminiscent of blueberries.

How Mirto Is Made

Mirto is not difficult to produce, and many Sardinians still today collect the berries and produce their own supply of this Sardinian elixir. Mirto is made by infusing an alcoholic base such as Vodka, with fresh myrtle berries for 8 weeks, so the flavours can soak into the alcohol, as does the myrtle pigment. Sugar is made into a syrup before being added to the mix, some may use honey as a substitute. Later, it is filtered, pressed, and bottled.

The alcoholic percentage normally rests around the 30% mark.

The is even a yearly celebration of this sweet liquor, held in the village of Telti, near Olbia in August.

Don’t leave Sardinia without trying this gem, afterwards you’ll want to bring a bottle home.

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The Great Sardinian Asparagus Hunt Begins!

The Sardinian countryside is filled with wild asparagus, they choose to reveal themselves anytime from December to early spring. There is always much speculation on when they are ready to collect.

Asparagus is a great treat for everyone living in the Sardinia countryside. A fresh, healthy ingredient that can be incorporated into many tasty dishes. Or snacked on during the search. They cannot even be bought in supermarkets, only bartered between locals or sold by the roadside.

asparagus in Sardinia
My First Asparagus Bunch Of The Year – 13th January 2020

This year I received a tip-off from a local asparagus hunter.

I saw him sitting outside the bar, with a hefty bunch of asparagus resting on the table, with a great sense of pride. His name is Sebastiano, but he’s known locally as the Capitano. He has a sixth sense for finding wild fruits and vegetables in the countryside.

I couldn’t believe he had managed to find so much asparagus when there was a mutual consensus between locals that I had spoken to, agreeing we wouldn’t see any asparagus for at least another month.

He explained to me where in the countryside asparagus can be found, and the higher I go the more I will find.

I set off on my search the next day, and we agreed to search the countryside together soon.

From my experience, asparagus is most commonly found next to old stone country walls, the shade creates an environment where they thrive.

asparagus hunting in sardinia

Finding your first asparagus is by far the hardest part of an asparagus hunt. Once you get your first, you begin to recalibrate your brain to find the long asparagus roots among the asparagus plant, and other trees and bushes growing in the same place.

The asparagus plant is prickly, out of control, and beautiful, but you need to look for the long green stems the rise out from the ground, sometimes reaching over 8 foot, as they balance on the bushes below.

If your lucky, you can find three or four asparagus in close proximity to one another, if this pattern continues you’ll soon have a nice bunch of asparagus in no time.

Sheep don’t eat asparagus, but each town has a group of asparagus hunters that set out early in the morning, to haul the largest bounty. They wander the county roads, with a basket, hoping to eat omelettes, soups and risotto with asparagus over the next few days.

If you are following the path of these keen wild vegetable hunters, it’s likely you’ll come across the remains of asparagus, finding the stalks already taken. Which is very demoralizing, but you must push through and find a new area to search.

An Asparagus stalk that has already been harvested

There is only a limited amount of asparagus, meaning the chances of finding asparagus gets increasingly more difficult. You’ll have to get off the beaten path and hunt in more unexpected areas, where no one has yet dared tread to find asparagus.

Photo from: italianfoodforever.com

This is a link to a Creamy Wild Asparagus Recipe by Deborah Mele

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Should You Tip In Sardinia?

Many people travelling to Sardinia from countries where tipping is expected, may be left confused after a meal, not knowing whether to add a tip or not.

Giving tips are not expected in Sardinia. However, it’s a nice thing to do especially when you are happy with the service.

In bars, it’s always nice to round up to the nearest euro.

Resturants normally include a coperto (cover charge) of 2.50 in the final bill.

Some restaurants may add a coperto of 10-15%, this should be made known on the menu, so it is clear before you order.

The choice to tip in Sardinia is entirely up to your discretion. It’s a way to reward excellent service but is never expected.

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Internet Connectivity, Wifi, And Using Mobile Phones In Sardinia

If you are travelling to Sardinia and want to stay connected to the internet and use your phone to make calls, this article should help. Don’t worry it’s all pretty simple.

Internet connectivity in Sardinia is widespread, there are numerous internet providers on the island, creating a great internet service.

Using your phone abroad is much simpler today, especially within Europe. If you have a phone contract from a country in the European Union, then you can use your data, calls, and texts in Sardinia, or anywhere in the EU (except Switzerland) as you would normally in your own country. Make sure you check your phone tariff before using your phone in another country

If you are visiting Sardinia from outside of Europe, then you will need to buy an internet tariff sim card for your phone.

The main coverage providers are TIM, Wind and Vodafone.

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