Tasting the rarest pasta in the world

We decided to stop at another agriturismo on our way from the east to west coast of Sardinia. A two-night stay at Testone  Agriturismo certainly took us off the beaten path and we had the good fortune of sampling what is said to be Italy's rarest and most endangered pasta, the filindeu or threads of God. It was traditionally made for pilgrims traveling the 33 kilometers from nearby Nuoro to the village of Lula for the Feast of San Francesco every October. The tradition goes back more than 300 years and only in the last 100 years have non-pilgrims been allowed to taste the delicious soup that features the special noodles.

We had no idea that the Testone agriturismo and the town of Nuoro had become famous in the culinary world due in large part to a recent visit from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Our host at the agriturismo , Matteo Secchi, showed us a video clip of Oliver attempting to learn how to make the pasta from one of the very few  women who have mastered the very difficult technique. The skill  involves creating a weave of exactly 256 threads of pasta that are wound together with amazing artistry. Only five women in the world know how to do it and they all live within 15 minutes of this particular farm. It was our serendipitous good fortune to be at the farm when the special dish that is based on the pasta was to be served. The special soup is made from mutton broth and filled with the filindeu pasta and sheep's cheese (pecorino). 

The farm is nestled in the mountain plateau of Sa Serra in the heart of Sardinia. The winding, steep roads are not for the feint of heart. Having found their way there during our 2-night stay were two Italian couples, the American owners of a California winery, an older Dutch couple and a young German couple with their 6-month old baby. We felt like campers thrown together for communal dinners and no evening activities other than talking and drinking from pitchers of homegrown Sardinian wine. The end result is that we made new international friends very quickly and have the WhatsApp numbers to keep our friendships alive.

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