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Pescaturismo and Grilled Fish

You’ve probably all heard about agriturismo, but do you know what pescaturismo is? The photo above might give you some clue, but if you’re still unsure, another hint comes from the word “pescare” which means “to fish” in Italian.

On our recent trip to Sardinia, we spent a day at sea aboard the Pescaturismo Sampey fishing boat with owners Gemi and Ignazina, (and their nephew Davide) as they hauled in their fishing nets and cooked the day’s catch for us and five other people.

You never know what’s going to appear as the nets get yanked from the sea. On this day it was lots of cuttlefish (similar to squid).

But there were also plenty of finned fish, such as red mullet and sea bass.

I was hoping for some octopus, which is what happened when I took this trip with Ignazina and Gemi 12 years ago, but the sole octopus that got snared in the net managed to escape while being hauled aboard.

There were still plenty of other fish for us to eat, and for Ignazina to remove from the net!

Gemi, Igna and  Davide worked on extracting the fish from the net, cleaning and cooking them, as we were moored off the coast of a small island. Note the flag on the boat, which is the traditional flag of the island, featuring the four moors.

While they did all the work, we were free to jump off the boat, swim and snorkel in the beautiful clear, turquoise waters.

We were summoned back on board for lunch, starting with tomato bruschetta.

Several fish courses followed, cooked in Ignazina’s tiny galley kitchen, including braised cuttlefish.

She also made a seafood risotto, sprinkled with bottarga (fish roe) on top.

Ignazina used some of the whole fish for a seafood stew.

Gemi cooked the rest of the whole fish on a portable grill. We couldn’t have had seafood any fresher unless we had eaten them raw while we were in the water. All this accompanied by limitless wine, homemade limoncello and mirto (blueberry liqueur), and fruit for dessert.

If you’re ever in Southern Sardinia with a day to spare and are looking for something unusual to do, try a day out at sea with Gemi and Ignazina. Their friendliness and hospitality are a great calling card for this beautiful island.

Trying to keep the Sardinia glow alive back at home in New Jersey, I found this two pound sea bass at the local fish store, caught that morning off the coast of our summer home. I smeared the aluminum pan with olive oil, added some herbs inside the fish cavity, scattered some lemon slices and onions around the fish, then my husband cooked it on the outdoor grill.

Filleting a whole fish can be intimidating to some, but once you’ve done it, (directions here), it’s not so difficult.

Besides, when you buy the whole fish, you get the advantage of scooping out the fish cheeks (the small piece on the fork, below) – the most tender and succulent part of all.

I may be far from the crystal clear waters surrounding Sardinia, but I can conjure up those memories at home eating grilled fish, while I remember diving off the side of the Sampey boat.

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