Visiting a Newhaven wine and food shop

L'Isola Buona

L'Isola Buona - Credit: Archant

Jilly Goolden sets her sights on the Mediterranean, visiting a wine and food shop run by Sardinian siblings

Well, it’s official: I’m going to live to be 100! I certainly hope so anyway, after visiting L’Isola Buona wine shop, delicatessen and cafe in Newhaven. Apparently Sardinia shares with Okinawa Island in Japan the boast of harbouring the greatest number of centenarians of any country in the world. And this they attribute to wines made from the local Cannonau grape, and the bread among other things. In Newhaven I tried both.

L’Isola Buona specialises exclusively in Sardinian delicacies. The address seems unpromising – next to Screwfix in Unit Two of the Bridge Industrial Estate – but the small shop is completely fabulous. Brother and sister Antonello and Lucia, the owners, believe that food, drink and family have very close connections and all should be given equal respect. And their meats, cheeses, smoked fish, pasta and unusual delicacies are all organic, free range and responsibly reared.

Antonello is the chef and I have to say he wowed me with a brilliant platter (actually a large, leaf-shaped cork board) of sliver-thin smoked tuna, swordfish, and freshwater eel on super-thin music bread with three unusual cheeses, artichoke hearts and pickled wild asparagus. His food is unusual and he’s proud of it.

Alternatively I could have gone for the less elaborate Sardinian flat bread with wild boar prosciutto, peretta cheese and truffle oil for £5.50. Or organic folded pizza (made with kamut flour) for £5. The choice is very wide.

Lucia and Antonello’s family have a food and drink business back in Northern Sardinia. For eight years the siblings have been supplying restaurants throughout the UK with niche Sardinian products sourced from small farmers and producers. The area at the front of their warehouse in Newhaven was wasted space and with a hungry local audience out there in neighbouring villages and passers-by on the way to Newhaven they decided to create the cosy (yes, cosy!) shop and café six months ago. They set up their online shop then as well ( Cork is big business in Sardinia and they stock some unusual and amazing cork platters, pictures, wine bottle stands and even small pieces of furniture. See what I mean? It’s a real cornucopia!

For the summer, light, slightly petillant (or frizzante) white wines are perfect. I discovered a delicious one there, at an attractive 11.5 per cent alcohol. The Palmi Alghero Vermentino Frizzante (£10.45) is as fresh as can be and very summery in a slightly violet-inspired way. You absolutely have to have a second glass. Then there is the Cagnulari Isola dei Nuraghi 2014 at £14.48, a big dark fruit compôte of a red wine with a tiny gunpowder quality. Like the delicious food, it’s definitely out of the ordinary.

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