as you'll discover in the Marche. With delicious cheeses, cured meats, truffles and speciality dishes this is gourmet heaven.
"Few people seem to go on vacation to the Marche, the region of Italy
that lies between Umbria and the Adriatic. Yet it is a delightful area,
with rolling hills, great beaches, long stretches of undeveloped
coastline and cultured hilltowns such as Urbino. If you take a cheap
flight to the Marche – you can fly to Acona from London - you’ll not
only escape the tourists who flock to Tuscany and Rome, you’ll be able
to try the region’s delicious cuisine. As Fred Plotkin says in his
fascinating book Italy for the Gourmet Traveller (Kyle Cathie £14.99),
‘the combination of sea, hills, and mountains’ in the Marche means that
‘there is superb seafood as well as excellent truffles, mushrooms,
meats, olives, grapes, and especially cheeses.
Dishes to look out for on your vacation include vincisgrassi, a rich
lasagne made with cream, veal ragu and black truffles; brodetto, a fish
stew made with garlic and herbs and served over slices of bread; lumache
a nove erbe, which is snails cooked with nine herbs – a speciality of
the northern Marche; and sarde alla Marchigiana, a dish of sardines
which are baked with breadcrumbs, rosemary, parsley and lemon.
As you explore the Marche, you will also find speciality cheeses such as
Casciotta, a cheese made from a mix of sheep’s milk and cow’s milk,
that Fred Plotkin says was Michelangelo’s favourite cheese. Apparently
the great Renaissance artist used to eat keep supplies of casciotta
handy so he could eat it while he sculpted. Michelangelo liked it so
much he eventually bought land near Urbino and grazed sheep on it, so
that he would always have casciotta to eat. Other traditional cheeses
from the Marche are Formaggio di Fossa, a pecorino cheese stored in
caves, and Pecorino Sotto le Foglie di Noci, a pecorino cheese wrapped
in walnut leaves.
In Italy for the Gourmet Traveller, Fred Plotkin suggests restaurants
where you might like to eat when you visit the Marche. He also provides
some recipes for classic dishes of the region. This recipe for Shrimps
Wrapped in Prosciutto, which appears here with permission, is a
speciality of Ristorante delle Rose in Marina di Montemarciano. It uses
prosciutto from the town of Carpenga, but if that is unavailable you may
substitute it with prosciutto from Parma or San Daniele. Prosciutto
from Carpegna is saltier than the others."