Abruzzo, an Italian eating photo diary

by - January 06, 2015

There aren't enough words to describe all of the wonderful things I've eaten in the fortnight I spent back in the family village in Italy. So here are a few pictures that should speak a thousand calories words. This is regional Aruzzese food on the whole, so possibly a few dishes you may not have come across as the area remains relatively off the well worn tourism path.

Although we mostly ate at home, cheek to jowl with no less than ten people at a time, dining out on the few occasions was wonderful too (and quieter!). Despite the decline in economy, there are a number of restaurants that shine in the bordering small villages. One we always go back to is a Slow Food champion in Pacentro (where Madonna's family are from no less) and a new one to us in Pescacosanzo that was even better. There's no point reviewing them as they are so remote but gives you an idea of how well, and reasonably you can eat generally in Italy away from the tourist drag. Plus you can also order a plate of expertly made pasta with a truckload of truffle for like, 6 Euro. I pretty much ate my body weight in truffles, natch.

Taverna De Il Caldora in Pacentro
Taverna De Il Caldora in Pacentro - a few of their Slow Food awards (practically every year)
Tagliolini with truffles at Taverna De Il Caldora. One of the three plates of pasta "tasters"
No olives on Earth are shinier or greener. Word.
The silkiest ravioli on the planet. Michelin quality as standard but without the price, if you hunt out restaurants where locals go. 
The local sausages are coarse and packed with flavour. You have them roasted, or even better cooked in the pasta sauce.
Grilled lamb is the thing to eat in Abruzzo. Simple, local and delicious. 
Home-style ravioli for a crowd.
Veal is the other most popular meat in the region other than lamb. This enormous fillet was something silly like 12 euros and so tender. 
We caught the tail end of the fig season. Not pretty but so sweet and jammy. 
The mushroom picking finds of the day. I think the variety is "big".
Abruzzo is not known for pizza making. Clearly. The only disappointing thing I ate in the fortnight and typical, it was a pizza.
SO GOOD. Italian meatloaf cooked in stock. This was so long! Only the lucky ones got a full slice of egg. i scored.
I love this drink so much. Like a bitter, grown up Cola. So hard to find in the UK.
The famous confetti (sugared almonds) made for wedding and celebrations in the nearby town of Sulmona,
These arrosticini (thin lamb skewers) are regional to Abruzzo only. Little Graphic Foodie loved his first taste of them.
Arrosticini and more local meat; pork belly and lamb chops.
Pizza rossa. This is only sold in bakeries, not pizzerias and is like a thin, tomato topped focaccia. Doused in olive oil so the base fries slightly. Will be trying to replicate at home and pop a recipe up for you.
Classic Italian pastries. Includes my favourite sfogliatelle.
Baccala (salted, dried cod)
Baccala (salted, dried cod) - battered.
One of my favourite cheeses - Caciocavallo, typical of the region. The name means "horse cheese" as they were tied and strapped over a horse to carry them to the market for sale. 
Formaggio fresca. Meaning fresh cheese. You can eat this mild sheep cheese like this or age it to make Pecorino. 
Mamma's minestrone. The best.
My aunt made a million crostatas whilst we were visited. No complaints. One day was apricot, another fig or blackberry. All good.
The beautiful village of Pescocostanzo .
Quaint doorway. Check. Geraniums in pots. Check. Sweet little table set up. Check. Cat. Check.
This ain't no photo shoot, this is real Italy.
If you do fancy a change from bustling Rome and manicured Tuscany, then you could start by visiting http://www.visitabruzzo.co.uk/.

You may also want to consider staying in the incredible diffusion hotel town which was a former ghost village in San Stefano di Sessanio. It remains my favourite "hotel" experience and a true taste of Abruzzo living in a bygone era, just with very fancy Philippe Starck baths! I wrote about it here and the place is just magical http://www.thegraphicfoodie.co.uk/2010/08/travel-sextantio-albergo-diffuso.html

(This is not a sponsored post by the way, just bigging up the area I come from in Italy. Please visit it, you'll get a true sense of real Italy and your belly will thank you for it too.)

About as happy as I get.

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