Arrosticini in Macalusa
The day was extraordinary to say the least. How, when a comment was made by my man “Pepe”, to stop in Popoli at Diffusion Beer & Wine Spirits in order that we might sample some Genziana, did I end up in the original absolute most authentic mountain top tavern/pizza restaurant in Abruzzo. Macalusa is located at Piazza del Borgo 57, Civitella Casanova, Italy. Civitella Casanova is considered the home of arrosticini, to confirm, first hand, this is notified that in the town hall are the first licenses for the sale of arrosticini dating back to 1819, the province of Pescara or other surrounding provinces. Civitella is defined as “the country that invented the arrosticini“. Make reservations when you are in the area, or even if you are not, get there…
Popoli is a beautiful town; we had stopped to visit a cousin of my husbands, then followed through on information shared by our tour guide for all spiritually important places to go and things to do. Popoli is smack dab in the middle of Italy, located in the region of Abruzzo.
A town in the province of Pescara, the area around the springs, which are the source of the Pescara River. The river basically runs through the middle of the town, or I suppose the town was founded on the availability of the rich mountain mineral water source so conveniently located, it only made sense to establish a historical rich town here.
It was relaxing watching the waters flow as we anticipated our guest of invitation and our guide for the evening, to enjoy with them the best arrosticini ever! The oldest part of town is situated just below the Cantelmo Castle, in the north-east, today it is an important industrial center.
The springs of the Pescara offer wonderfully clear vibrant mineral water, after traveling approximately 30 days through the mountains. This fresh mineral water is commonly used for the therapy of rheumatic pains, and of course the foundation of making excellent beer. The medicinal value of the water also contributes to the great taste of Feudi Genziano that is made by our friend Giovanni Paolini.
The tradition of char-broiled grilled lamb on wood skewers or kebabs, over an open wood coal fed grill BBQ style has been popular in Italy for years. When you google arrosticini in wikepedia, you will find it originates from the food consumed by shepherds and other inhabitants of the mountainous areas in Abruzzo within the villages of Civitella Casanova, Carpineto, and Villa Celiera.
Rostigrill has made this culinary experience available to Americans as of 2014. This Italian tradition should be offered in every restaurant, tavern & pub, as well as our homes for an evening meal, or a family style BBQ on our patios, and around the pool, the same as we do in Abruzzo Italy. Served with fresh bread generously drizzled with local extra virgin olive oil and a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (rosso) red Italian wine, you have a meal you will always remember. It never gets old, I eat this natural wholesome mountain raised grass fed lamb meat regularly as I know it is healthy and good for me, cooked with the method of preparation the Italians have used for BBQ for years.
The best part, is the easy preparation of the skewers using the cubo, can be as fun as eating them. No forks or knives are needed; pull the pieces of meat from the wooden skewer (called “ceppo”) with your teeth – that technique is an art all of it’s own. I have enjoyed arrosticini so much, and wanted to duplicate this experience, at home as well as when I am abroad.
Rostigrill has helped me to accomplish this in the United States. Grill-ware of traditional Italy, hand made and imported to North America has continued to inspire the opportunity of sharing skewer/kebab bbq grilling Italian style in the United States. Every menu in Abruzzo Italy has arrosticini on it, they are as common as hot dogs, hamburgers, or chicken nuggets are to our children in America.
The idea and purpose of sharing this cultural culinary BBQ skewer grilling art of sorts, is to bring the family together, sharing good nourishing food at the table, and create great memories at the same time. I wish everyone could visit the mountains of Abruzzo, knowing well that isn’t probable, Roberto & Cynthia Pizzica will help continue to introduce and share this great family tradition from Italy with America. I personally adored this experience from the first time I tried eating lamb from a skewer, char-grilled over the all natural lump wood coal, there is nothing I can compare to the unique taste and flavors of arrosticini.
Remember, the Genziana sampling was what got us here to this occasion.
I must take a moment, and explain, Genziana, it is a deep straw yellow colour, of average alcohol content, and with the typical aroma and taste of the gentian, which are intense and easy to identify (yellow flower, & root which is extracted, dried and allowed to continue life). The plant, with its typical yellow blossom, grows only in Europe, in Italy it will only flower in specific Alpine and Central Apennine zones, at an altitude of 1,000-2,000 metres.
This liqueur is part of the ancient custom on the Abruzzo Apennine of producing small amounts of wine aromatized with gentian roots, used as an excellent digestive drink. Bottom line, it absolutely works, for what it is made to do, assists in digestion.
Time to embark on a journey that seems never ending, as the winding road leads up the mountain and do not stop. The sun is gradually disappearing behind the mountain range, yet this endless sky blue lingers above as the colors won’t release a sunsets vision for several hours during the summer. As a back seat driver in the car, I am no good, bless those that recognize it is best to sacrifice the front seat, as a roller coaster needs to see the horizon as it goes up and down, or it gets rather turbulent, well I do any way. All is beautiful, traveling North on SP40, from Popoli, past Scafa, Nocciano, and finally arriving to our destination, Catignano Casanova. Other than a few area’s where the road was missing, (the workers simply place some brightly colored cones close by, suggesting you better stay clear)…the ride was a breeze, in the front seat of course.
Arrived to Macalusa, incredible! The place is packed with people, young, old, children, families, all of it. People travel similar as we did, from miles around to enjoy the individual charm and authenticity of this specialty way to make and enjoy a specific type of Italian food. The aroma of char-broiled, grilled lamb, arrosticini, beef steak, pork, meats of any type, grilling on this open face all natural lump wood elongated BBQ maker is such a unique way to cook and enjoy sharing with family and friends outdoor, or indoor for that matter, carne (meat) .
A firewood coal oven positioned directly next to the large canal style skewer/kebab grill allows easy access of additional wood coal distribution as needed, braised and ready to score some more meat.
Thank-You for joining me on this days journey, check back soon, as there are lots more stories and experiences to share.
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