Liquid from the gods: a dinner in Alghero

The view from my table at Quarte Sayal, Alghero, Sardinia

I sat on one of their chairs outside with only one purpose – pacify my growling stomach. A flight always makes me tired no matter how short or long the trip was. It was already 7pm and my last meal was seven hours ago. I did not expect to be satisfied neither be amused by the view. But dining in Quarte Sayal, opposite the boardwalk of Alghero city center gave me a totally different experience.

Quarte Sayal is separated from the beach by a busy motorway. If you don’t mind including passing cars in your view of the palm trees, the mountainous backdrop and the gorgeous sunset, then dining here can be considered a beautiful experience.

Locals gathering in the restaurant during sunset. That’s the manager chatting with them.

I was at first a bit hesitant when I saw a group of young people, some with tattoos and dressed like rockers, smoking by the door. It might be my prejudice against untidy people but when they hang out in front of a restaurant, customers will naturally think twice. But the waiters were very attentive. I did not have to wait for 30 minutes before somebody comes out of the main dining hall and take my order.

The selection of pasta was very limited with only about 5 choices but the pizza was extensive that it occupies two pages of the menu. It’s safe to say that pizza is the restaurant’s specialty.

Unfortunately I am not really a fan of pizza so I opted  for a simple courgette and prawns penne. Like I said, i did not have high expectations. Of course, since I was in Sardinia, I only wanted to drink Sardinian wine.

I am totally ignorant of Italian wine makers so I let the waiter decide which one to pour me. He came back with my wine but he didn’t pour it in front of me so I did not know what variety it was.

Nothing beats a beautiful sunset with a glass of white wine.

Slowly I sipped from the chilled glass, not expecting to be delighted. But it was such a delicious surprise when the the alcohol began touching the nerves of my  mouth.  Borrowing the words of French food blogger Paolo Westbeek –  that Sardinian white wine was like liquid from the gods! Flowery, sweet, smooth and just a pleasure on the tongue. It reminded me of the dessert wine at Restaurant Raven, only that it was an Argentinian dessert wine.

I abstained from gulping the whole glass in one go and decided to focus my attention on the setting sun. My food arrived shortly, exactly 12 minutes after I ordered it. From a few meters away, I can smell the sea behind the covered plate.

Like the wine, the penne was a revelation. The pasta was still a bit hard but I don’t know if that’s they way  Italians like to cook it. The courgette are nicely chopped in small pieces and it was a challenge forking it out of the plate. Meanwhile the prawns was cooked like how I prefer it, unpeeled, the head was separated from the body but still included in the dish.

The meal was cooked simply, it was stripped off any sauce or fancy side dish or plating. The ingredients were probably just tossed into a wok with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and with a bit of wine. I felt like eating a home-cooked Italian meal. With a price of 9 euros, I don’t think anyone would complain. It was a delicious, feel-good meal.

When the waiter came back to ask me if my food was nice, I took the chance to order a second glass of the white wine and asked the bottle to be brought to my table.  The culprit of my food ecstasy was a wine called Argiolas Costamolino – produced from the grape Vermentino which is grown in Sardinia. I asked the waiter to pour me another glass and took mental note of the wine for a later trip to the supermarket.

Can you tell by my smile how I’m enjoying my wine and my simple dinner?

Slowly I enjoyed my second glass of Argiolas Costamolino while watching the golden sun hurriedly sinking behind the mountains. Despite the cars swiftly crossing the road, my view was beautiful and I felt incredibly happy.  I’m sure it was just the changed of scenery and the slowing down from my hectic work schedule but somehow being in Italy, seeing the beach and watching the faces of people enjoying the Mediterranean weather relaxed my mind. Or was it just the courgette and prawn pasta and the delicious Argiolas Costamolino?

Vanilla-caramel ice cream on a plate of powdered sugar.

I wrapped up my dinner with a vanilla-caramel ice cream and a shot of Italian espresso.  The locals started gathering in other tables, smoking cigars and drinking their wines. A mother of two girls joined me in my solitary space and I exchanged smiles with one of the adorable children. I wanted to order another glass, even contemplated on a whole bottle, but I needed to get up early the next day.

I left Quarte Sayal with a happy heart which did not have any idea of the horrors of travel she will be facing the next day. At least I was well fed and enjoyed very much that decent meal – my only meal in the next 48 hours..