When I first came to Puglia I found a great restaurant with tables looking out to sea. The father of the owner sat in a corner of the terrace, cleaning mussels all day, while on nearby tables happy customers worked their way through huge plates of Spaghetti alle Cozze, Fritto Misto and antipasti including Cozze Gratinate – stuffed mussels. Continue reading
It may be the Neapolitans who were historically known as ’mangia foglie e mangia maccheroni’ – leaf and pasta eaters, but fruit and vegetables, whether cultivated or growing wild, have also always played a significant part in the cuisine of … Continue reading
One of the great things about food shopping in Puglia is that you never know what you will come home with; it is fun wandering round the bakery, fish shop, butchers and market and buying whatever looks best that day and there are always bargains to be had.. Continue reading
I always love going to the market in Monopoli, where I live. On one level I feel at home, the stall holders know me and call out hello and the staff in Caffe Roma on the corner of the market square (the best ice cream in Puglia) know that I want a double coffee, still water and a cornetto (pastry not ice cream!) with apricot jam. In another way it makes me feel like I am permanently on holiday, the calls of the vendors still seem quaint, the colour and freshness of the vegetables exceptional, the setting beautiful in a way that says ‘you are in Italy’.
Pettole are crisp, light balls of yeast dough and can be either sweet or savoury. The sweet version is dusted with icing sugar, or drizzled with honey or ‘vincotto’ before serving, the savoury version traditionally has a filling of salt cod or cauliflower, but there are other, tastier, variations such as sliced olive, sundried tomatoes and anchovies.
Today I walked to the market in brilliant sunshine and came back with bags of fruit and vegetables, chosen in the moment because they looked good.. Particularly tempting were the vividly green cime di rape, or turnip tops – tell a Pugliese that in England we eat the turnips themselves, as I did when I first arrived, and it confirms their belief that all ‘stranieri’ are just that, strange. In fact although related to turnips, cime di rapa, also known as broccoli rabe, are something different. Either way, today I am making orecchiette, the typical pasta pugliese, shaped apparently like ‘little ears’ with cime di rape.. Continue reading
Antipasti play a huge part in the Puglian cuisine – possibly as a result of the Spanish occupation (think tapas) or the Greek (meze)… At their best they can be a meal in themselves and never more so than at one of my favourite restaurants, Casa Nova in Alberobello, where you can sample well prepared local dishes in a converted 18th century ‘frantoio’ or oil press. Continue reading
Artichokes were almost certainly brought to Puglia by the Turks, and the first documented mention of their presence in the area relates to Otranto in the 1700s though it is possible they were cultivated much earlier; certainly they were grown … Continue reading
No Puglian breakfast would be considered complete without its biscotti, often made in an elongated plaited shape and eaten fresh from the oven, sometimes dipped in hot milk or cappuccino. Almonds are one of the staple crops of the area … Continue reading
Puglia has been one of Italy’s main producers of durum wheat since Roman times. Different kinds of bread, focaccia, biscuits, cakes and fresh pasta made with durum wheat and water are an essential part of the Puglian diet. Many of … Continue reading