Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sperlonga Seafood Festival

I've been going to Sperlonga for over twenty years; it's become our seaside home away from home. It's an easy drive to get there and an even easier, more relaxing train ride. The whitewashed centro storico is lovely and beautifully maintained. It spills down to two beach areas: one is the side with remains of Emperor Tiberiuses residence and a small museum featuring the spoils from his villa (sculptures and artifacts). The other beach side below the centro storico is the more recently developed commercial area of Sperlonga, with its shops, alimentari and small hotels which are all family owned and operated. The seafood festival was mostly below this side of the centro storico.
The seafood festival takes place every year and features local artisanal products and hand-crafted items. There are a few extras like music every evening, an art show and various seminars on local seafood and the sustainability issues facing Italy and its surrounding bodies of water. The latter, sadly, was the most poorly attended part of the seafood festival. People want to have fun, eat well and put on blinders for gthese other issues. most people in Sperlonga, country folk by and large engaged in agricultural activities, just don't get how endangered our oceans are and how depleted seafood has become.
In sperlonga's favor are the pride the residents and municipal management take in their town, its cleanliness, the cleanliness of the waters. The seafood served (free of charge) to everyone was a frittura of the most sustainable fish in the ocean: anchovies, sardines and other local, tiny fish.
I love this festival and issues confronting our oceans aside, fully enjoyed the frittura and community spirit this week-end.

Local volunteers worked tirelessly flouring and frying up all the fish for hundreds of people on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening.

Fish were served atop a slice of oil-drizzled bruschetta, made with local casareccio bread. I stayed around long enough to have several servings of fish. Such simple fare, but the freshness of the fish, the simple preparation of  a dusting of flour and then a quick fry in fresh, good quality oil made for a more than satisfactory dinner. Local white wine was served with the fish: house wine, but perfect with the fish.

The beautiful port area, which loops around Sperlonga, was lit up each night and full of stands selling other local foods and artisan goods. I could have left after our little fish fest, but decided to move along to other stands and try out some other foods.

What meal is complete without pasta? In Italy it's almost a must. Never mind that we had our pasta following our main course; it certainly didn't affect our enjoyment of this seafood and tomato pasta dish.
After our pasta, a stroll and gelato we headed back to our house with full bellies ready to sleep and enjoy the following day on the beach.

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