Elba is not just an island, it is a different ecosystem, with a different balance between man and nature. You will realize it as soon as you leave Portoferraio and start to explore the island by riding its tricky roads. As its nature is still a bit wild and its people is still a bit rude, its cuisine seems to be a bit simple. But, actually, it is just an impression due to its tight connection with traditions of the locals: miners, farmers and fisherman.
Another peculiarity of this cuisine is that it is made just by goods from Elba. Especially outside Portoferraio you will have just what there is! It could seem to be a sort of restriction but, in the opposite, it is the guarantee that you will eat just daily-fresh food.
As you all can guess, in Elba 80% of all typical dishes comes from the sea, but as the island is very close to the mainland, the meat is now also part of the traditions. However, here I want to give you some tips to try the original cuisine of Elba, not just generic Tuscan food. And, to immerse deep in Elban traditions we are going to suggest a different type of wine for each dish, but all made with local grapes.
The most typical starter I invite you to try is gurguglione. Gurguglione is, basically, a dish of crostini with a lot of different sautéed vegetables, very tasty! With this starter, I offer you to drink “Elba Rosso DOC”.
My pick for the first dish goes to a light panzanella elbana, this particular bread salad is the queen of the beach in this hot summer, and local people use to prepare it while they are on the seaside. Inside you will find tuna, anchovy, crackers, tomatoes, cucumbers, baby onions, peppers, basil and so on… an explosion of flavors! You can eat it with white wine “Elba Bianco DOC”.
After a starter made of vegetables and a light first dish, I know you are waiting for the “big gun”, and I won’t let you down, so let me introduce you the main course – stoccafisso alla riese. Dried cod is very popular all over the Leghorn coast, but every village has its own version. This particular version adds to the famous stoccafisso alla livornese some more ingredients like onions, olives, anchovy and some pine nuts, to give to it more character. In combination to stoccafisso alla riese I suggest two different wines, according to your personal taste: “Elba Ansonica” or “Elba Rosato”.
Other good typical courses of the island are: riso al nero di seppia – rice with squid ink, totani ripieni – stuffed squid, cacciucco or a soup of fish and sea food, polpo lesso – boiled octopus, zerri fritti – very small fried fish, sardine ripiene – stuffed sardines.
If you still have a little space in your stomach, don’t miss all the typical sweets of Elba (they are very proud of them), like sportella, schiaccia briaa and so on.
Last but not least, you just cannot come back from Elba island, without taste the famous sweet wine “Aleatico Passito dell’Elba”, the one and only DOCG of Elba. It is one of the few red sweet wines of Tuscany, with a very limited production and a lot of admirers around the globe. The legends says, also Napoleon Bonaparte, during his exile in Elba, has been a great admirer of Aleatico.
Top things to do in Elba island (part I)