I first started hearing about Bina Ristorante a while ago; the (Italian) word on the street was that it was refined and stylish and well worth a visit, with ‘e poi si mangia bene’- you also eat well, as an after thought. I didn’t feel compelled to rush over there. It is difficult to eat badly in Puglia, and Italians in general go crazy for anything new which ticks the ‘stylish’ box, whatever the current definition of stylish happens to be. Suffice it to say that the fairy story of the emperor’s new clothes is not widely known here, nor the expression ‘all that glisters is not gold’. Continue reading
Not quite a bun or a cake but softer than a biscuit, the Scarcella is the traditional Easter treat,lovingly prepared and usully given to children, long before the advent of chocolate easter eggs. The original version was almost certainly round, … Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago there was balmy weather, blue skies and I was full of the joys of spring, but things took a decided turn for the worse and the last few days have been cold and blustery as well as wet..
After a day of running errands, with a sore throat and runny nose, I was feeling thoroughly disgruntled, with an evening of work on the computer stretching uninvitingly ahead of me. Maybe a nice glass of warming primitivo while I worked would make me feel better? It might well have done but, as soon as I sat down with my laptop and glass of wine, my cat decided to play his favorite attention seeking trick of walking slowly back and forth between me and the computer screen.Not feeling like playing I brushed him aside, knocking my glass of wine onto the computer keyboard. After this it is fair to say I felt considerably worse… Continue reading
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