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The Abruzzi region is well known for the quality of its pasta which is made from pure mountain water and high-quality hand-selected wheat. "Maccheroni alla chitarra" is perhaps the most well-known Abruzzi regioal dish. This is a pasta dish that is made on a wooden frame with wires that resembles a guitar. Maccaroni is served with a number of different sauces, which are prepared from lamb, mutton ("Sugo di castrato") or simply from tomatoes. Other well-known pasta dishes include Timballo, Crispelle and Scripelle, an Abruzzi version of Crêpe.
Gnocchi alla polenta can be enjoyed in the mountain regions. Unlike in L'Aquila,
where gnocchi is prepared using local saffron. Gnocchi allo Zafferano is made
from special potato dough that is shaped by hand. To prepare the sauce, saffron
pistil is rinsed in cooking water; the gnocchi refined with grated mountain sheep's
Virtù ("the virtues") is a delicious and typical speciality from the Teramo province. It's an easily digestible soup made from pulses, fresh vegetables and pasta.
Meat and Sausages
Given that cattle and sheep breeding is still very much a way of life in this region, it will come as no surprise to learn that there is plenty on offer in terms of meat dishes. Think of any way of preparing lamb, goat or beef - and it will probably be on offer here. Arrosticini, a local lamb dish, can be found right across the region. Poultry dishes including duck, goose and guinea fowl can also be found across the region and are usually prepared with vegetables, preferably wild asparagus or potatoes that have been cooked slowly under ashes. Tacchino can also be enjoyed as a dish called Tacchino alla canzanese.
Sausages from the Abruzzi region have established a reputation right across Italy. We highly recommend trying Ventricina di Guilmi, Ventricina di Crognaleto and last but by no means least the Mortadelline di Compotosto.
The cuisine on the coast is different. In Pescara, for instance, you might want to try one of the delicious fish dishes such as Brodetto alla pescarese (a tasty fish soup made from seafood, scampi, squid, mullet, sole etc.). Scapece alla vastese (fried fish that has been sprinkled with saffron and pickled) is a speciality in Vasto. Sardines and anchovies are also made into dishes such as Alici all'ortonese in Ortona across the entire coastal region.
Vegetables and Pulses
The fresh vegetables and pulses produced in the region are used to make delicious minestrone soup. It is prepared differently from village to village and represents an excellent and delicious choice for vegetarians. The lentils from Santo Stefano are also worth a mention because they are highly regarded across Italy because of their rich aroma.
Cheese and Dairy Products
Dairy products are still prepared traditionally today. Pecorino (a medium-hard to hard sheep's milk cheese) and Scamorza (soft cheese) are produced locally and can be found across the region. Ricotta is available in a number of varieties. Cheeses made from cow's and goat's milk have a particularly refined taste and are appreciated by all lovers of cheese.
Confectionary and Cakes
In addition to the soft Torrone and Confetti from Sulmona, the Abruzzi region also offers a large variety of confectionary and cakes that are well worth tasting. We can recommend Nevole, round waffles with dough that has been refined using fruit juice according to traditional recipes. Bocconotti, small sweet pieces made from flaky pastry and filled with chocolate and candy fruits, is a speciality from Lanciano and Chieti.
In Pescara, you will find Parrozzo, a cake made out of almonds, lemons and chocolate. Pan dell'orso is well-known in Scanno. Excellent honey is also produced in this region and is often used as a natural way of sweetening cakes.
After a delicious meal, we would like to recommend trying a homemade liqueur or Amari made from walnuts, juniper, lemon, mandarines, black elder and gentian. Ratafia is a particularly delicious liqueur that is made from Amarena cherries.
Wine from the Abruzzi region is becoming more and more popular abroad. The red Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (made from Montepulciano grapes) with its characteristic and intensive ruby-red colour is particularly silky and dry.
This wine has been awarded the DOC seal of quality. Another equally exquisite Abruzzi wine is Cerasuolo, a rosé. It is mellow and fruity with a hint-of-almond bouquet. Trebbiano d'Abruzzo is a refreshing and dry white wine that is regarded as one of the finest in the region.
Olive oil plays a major role in the Mediterranean diets that have been highly recommended by health experts. The Abruzzi region produces an excellent olive oil. Aprutino-Pescarese olive oil is one of the very first Italian oils to have been awarded the DOP seal of quality from the European Union. The DOP quality seal is awarded to products that contain ingredients from the region in which they are produced. Mixed oil products that are common in most supermarkets are not acceptable for the seal.
Aprutino pescarese is a cold-pressed olive oil. Cold pressing is used to make sure that important characteristics of the oil are not lost during the processing process such as its very low acidity, low peroxide and the balance between saturated and unsaturated acids. This valuable oil is also used as a medicine: Scientists have been investigating its health benefits over the last few years and have discovered that vegetable fats are more beneficial for health than animal fats. Moreover, olive oil is even healthier than other vegetable-based oils because it is produced during a mechanical process that draws the oil directly from the olives and which uses absolutely no added chemicals.
And that's not all - olive oil tastes great too! You can experience first-class olive oil in practically all the farms and villas offered on Lupus Italicus. Some locations even offer olive-oil testing and you'll be invited to take some of this "liquid gold" home with you. Please contact us - we'll be happy to help.
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Mr Gerhartz for the use of some of his holiday pictures.