The Treasure of Pink Garlic

18.10.2021

Nicastro pink garlic is a historical product of the Lamezia Terme area, in the province of Catanzaro. Of medium size, it has a rounded shape, white in color with pink veins.

The excellence of “Nicastro pink” garlic is characterized by certain morphological and organoleptic characteristics, such as the size, the pink color inside, the intense aroma, the slightly bitter taste that lasts unchanged for several months.

The production of Nicastro pink garlic begins with the care of the seedbeds which, fertilized with organic fertilizer, will go into production in the autumn.

Warm colors

The cloves produced in the previous year are planted in the ground where they live until the month of May; afterwards the plants are uprooted and left to dwell for a month in an area of penumbra. This garlic also beats the Spanish one for naturalness, color, flavor, smell.

The “Rosa di Nicastro” garlic is a typical commercial reference to “Made in Italy” or rather to “Made in Calabria”. It is the affirmation of the Mediterranean diet, which is part of the UNESCO heritage of intangible assets. This is due to the fact that production of Nicastro pink garlic begins with the care of the seedbeds which, after being fertilized, go into production in autumn. The garlic is harvested the next June. Packaged in braids, it is left to dry. Although it exhibits an intense taste and aroma, which persists for up to a year after harvest, it remains delicate at the same time, a characteristic that makes it particularly popular in the area.

TERRITORY AND HISTORY

Nicastro is one of the municipal districts of Lamezia Terme, in the province of Catanzaro, of which it represents the most populous district. Until 1968 it was an autonomous municipality. Its history begins between the 9th and 10th centuries and, since then, numerous civil and, above all, religious buildings have arisen on its territory, many of which have been rebuilt following the disastrous earthquake of 1638.

A natural shape

The city of Nicastro has always been known for the fertility of its lands, especially for the production of exquisite vegetables from all over the province. Already in the Bourbon period, on the occasion of the St. Peter and Paul Fair, such richness was exhibited and the pink garlic was the protagonist among the banquets. So much so that in 1826 the King of the Two Sicilies, Ferdinando Secondo, promulgated a decree to allow the Fair to be extended from three to five days.

Despite the difficult periods that garlic production has encountered over the years, today it is still possible to go to the historic Fair of Apostles, held every year at the end of June, and buy it from the few farmers who still cultivate it, since more than hundred years.

White and pink shades

NAME AND FEATURES

Considered a rare product, the Nicastro pink garlic deserved the attention of the Slow Food Foundation which promotes it and contributes to its protection through the Ark of Taste project. It was assured protection due to the delicious Calabrian bulb, rounded and of medium size. Further, despite the intense taste and flavor, which lasts up to one year after harvest, it is also still pleasantly delicate; and it is precisely for this reason that it is particularly appreciated in the area.

IN THE KITCHEN (a recipe)

The intense taste and aroma of this garlic makes it suitable for flavoring many different recipes. Its delicacy, in fact, makes it discreet and never overwhelming, enhancing all the flavors present in the dish.

Good, tasty, delicious

Find herein a typical recipe: “Spaghetti with red garlic, oil and chilli“.

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams of spaghetti,
  • 5 cloves of garlic,
  • 2 red chillies,
  • extra virgin olive oil,
  • salt.

Preparation:

Boil water in a pot, in the meantime heat some oil in a pan with the chopped chilli pepper, add the clean and chopped garlic cloves and brown them, making sure they do not darken too much. Drain the pasta al dente, fry it in oil and serve it hot on the table.

Note well:

Garlic in cooking is a precious ingredient, but sometimes its use can cause unpleasant (and “odorous”) “side effects” on the hands. Cook it without touching the wedges with your hands, simply using a very handy garlic press.

Lamezia Wine: the Phoenician culture of wine

23.4.2021

Traditionally, a gastronomy like that of Calabria does not contain fragrances so intense and complex like Lamezia wine. This wine, with its dark notes of black cherry, plum, cocoa, tobacco, Indian ink and spices, must be considered an exception.

The taste of this wine is balanced and soft, showing dark and red fruits with a little spice. It is quite strange in the panorama of Mediterranean vines finding a cultivation (it is around the town of Lamezia Terme)  both so old, dating back to 2000 BC, when the Phoenicians introduced it along the coasts of Calabria, and at the same time so rich of different grapes. The blend (mentioning only the main presence) is made of approx. 40%Gaglioppo, 40% Greco Nero, and 20% Nerello Cappuccio, all coming from the DOC area of Lamezia Calabria. Namely, the red Lamezia account for the majority of production and is made also from Sicilian red varieties Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio, accompanied by local reds such as Gaglioppo, Greco Nero, Nocera and Calabrese (Nero d’Avola). The white Lamezia uses Greco Bianco, Malvasia Bianca and Ansonica grapes. Finally, the Lamezia “rosato” wine is made from the same varieties as the reds, but combined with some white grapes, which are relatively scarce, making up only a small percentage of the DOC’s output.

THE LAND

There is an interruption in the chain of southern Apennines, and here, after the mountains run almost unbroken for 150 miles between central Campania and Lamezia, there is a vast plain spanning less than 20 miles (30km) between the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts.

This area is relatively flat, when compared with the Sila plateau to the north, which rises to almost 6000ft (1830m), and the winds sweep from west to east, across the Mediterranean, and blow through the narrow gap in the mountains.

Here, the wines are made at vineyards which lie just south of Lamezia Terme, a town near the western Calabrian coast, and these wines, made under the Lamezia DOC, are red, white and rose (rosato).

The sea is near and the proximity of the seawaters of Mediterranean is important to the land, helping to temper the heat and reduce it to such a measure to soften the Calabrian climate and make grow vines in an optimal way.

Further, some Lamezia vineyards take advantage of the slightly increased altitude at the edges of the DOC area, where the hillsides between Maiolino extend up into the hills near Falerna.

Conclusively, despite the long history of Lamezia wines, coming, before the Greek era, from a Phoenician root, they remain relatively unknown, a problem from which other Calabria DOCs also suffer. Surely, Lamezia is a DOC, absolutely recognized in Italy since its introduction in December 1978 (a few months before the Melissa DOC), but its export is minimal.

FEATURES

Apart from a “Novello” (a young wine), only available in the category of “rosso” wines (an early-release, early-drinking style similar to that of Beaujolais Nouveau), Lamezia owns a large spectrum of white, red, “rosé” and reserve wines.

Normally, a “Lamezia rosso” is at least two years old before commercial release, and has spent at least six months of that time in barrel.

TABLE OF MAIN LAMEZIA LABELS

  • Lamezia Rosso is an Italian wine, rated DOC and classified as Red wine, since 1978. Alcohol: 12.0%. Color: cherry red more or less intense. Flavor: winey, fruity, dry, well-balanced, harmonic.
  • Lamezia Rosato is an Italian wine rated DOC and classified as Red wine, since 1978. Alcohol: 11.5%. Color: pink more or less intense. Flavor: soft, clear, dry.
  • Lamezia Rosso Reserve is an Italian wine, rated DOC and classified Red wine, since 1978. Alcohol: 12.0%. Color: cherry red more or less intense. Flavor: winey, sometimes fruity, dry, well-balanced, harmonic.
  • Lamezia Novello is an Italian wine, rated DOC and classified as Red wine, since 1978. Alcohol: 12.0%. Color: cherry red more or less intense. Flavor: winey, sometimes fruity, dry, well-balanced, harmonic.
  • Lamezia Bianco is an Italian wine, rated DOC and classified as White wine, since 1978. Alcohol: 11.0%. Color: straw yellow. Flavor: winey, pleasant, clear. Taste: dry, velvety, full. Main Grapes: Greco Bianco 0.0%-50.0%, Malvasia Bianca B. 0.0%-20.0%, Trebbiano Toscano B. 0.0%-40.0%.
  • Lamezia Greco is an Italian wine, rated DOC and classified White wine, since 1978. Alcohol: 11.0%. Color: straw yellow. Flavor: fresh, clear, dry, harmonic. Main Grapes: Greco Bianco 85.0%-100.0%.