The first thing you notice when you walk into the dining room of Su Gologone are all the baby pigs, sawed in half and skewered on metal rods leaning against a hundred-year-old fireplace. The second thing you notice are the waitresses, said to be the most beautiful in Sardinia if not Italy. So, do you come for Pasqua Palimodde’s excellent cooking or the beauty of her staff? I figured I’d enjoy both.
This somewhat isolated country inn is situated close under the rim of the Supramonte massif and has long been a draw for European gourmands and romantics (the inn has a big honeymoon clientele). If you’re a guest, the thing to do is get up early and go for a hike in the hills where, if you’re lucky, you might spot wild boar, moufflon (wild sheep), and peregrine falcons.
But I wasn’t staying here so I skipped the hike and went straight to the kitchen where Signora Palimodde was overseeing the preparation of one of the simplest but most delicious dishes on the island, pane frattau. This is peasant food at its finest, the type of dish that a shepherd might have because there wasn’t anything else to eat in the house.
The most time-consuming part of the dish is making the carasau bread, which is baked in very thin, round layers. It’s not hard to make; it’s just unleavened bread. But if you make it the way Signora Palimodde makes it, it takes awhile because first you bake the bread in a wood stove, then you cut it in half and bake it a second time. That’s how it gets very flat and very crispy. Of course, in Sardinia you can find carasau in every village so you just go out and buy it. What you do is take one of the bread rounds and briefly soak it in stock, just to soften it up, then you spread a very simple tomato sauce—not a ragu—on top, dust it with some fresh pecorino sardo, and top the whole thing with a poached egg.
Sounds almost boring, doesn’t it? Watching Signora Palimodde put the dish together for me, I thought, what’s the big deal? In fact, I figured I’d just take a little bite or two just to be nice about it and then move on to the porceddu, which I could smell roasting in the dining room. But I’ll tell you what—that pane frattau was as good as anything I’d tasted on the island. I moped up every last bit of sweet tomato sauce and runny egg yolk and would have been happy to have another. But I needed to save room for the suckling pig.