My husband Tom is a foodie. As evidenced by his blog, The Palladian Traveler, he loves to photograph and write about Italian food and wine, so when we moved to Puglia from the Veneto, I wondered how the local fare would satisfy his palate. Would Tom enjoy his new diet?
Well, I need not have worried. The food here in Puglia is consistently the best I have ever tasted. Being a peninsula, surrounded by the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, the fish is so fresh, it’s almost leaping out of the abundant display cabinets in the supermarkets and pescherie (fish shops) on a daily basis.
The cheese counter is likewise an abundant affair with creamy burrata being a great favourite of mine. It is even used to place on top of a plate of pasta, where it melts enticingly down the sides, like snow melting on a roof.
The local pasticerria in Ostuni is heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth. And judging by the scores of people who frequent Ciccio, for their morning fix of cappucino and a pastry, there are plenty of those around!
Likewise, the fruit and vegetable shops are bursting at the seams with wholesome, freshly picked fare. No problem getting your five-a-day here; the rich, red soil yields its vitamin-filled bounty with gusto.
Cows and sheep are bred on the higher parts of the Murgia; the plateau which reaches from north of Bari to the White City of Ostuni. At the lower end of the Murgia is the Valle d’Itria (Itrian Valley). Martina Franca is the highest town in the Valle d’Itria and is famous for its Capocollo di Martina Franca. Capocollo is a traditional dry-cured cold cut made from neck of pork. (Collo means neck in Italian). It is, typically, sliced very thinly and is absolutely delicious.
Most restaurants have a choice of meat or fish depending on whether you are up on the hills or down on the coast. Polpette (meat balls) are a great favourite.
Order a simple salad…..
…..or wander into an ordinary bar and order an aperitivo. You will be amazed by the amount of food that is brought to your table.
Bombette are a specialty of the Valle D’Itria. A bombette is a well seasoned piece of pork wrapped around a piece of cheese and cooked on a grill. It is often served as ‘street food’ and arrives in a bread roll.
Cime di Rape (turnip tops) with orecchiette (little ears) pasta is extremely popular too. For me it needs quite a hefty sprinkle of parmiggiano, but you can find it on many menus here.
Feast your eyes on some of my foodie photographs. Let’s start with a couple of antipasti…..
…..followed by pasta…..
Now for our fish course. Just run your cursor over the photos for a description.
And the wines?
Full bodied and interesting there is wine here for every palate. Tom particularly enjoys a rosato, but here are a few of our favourites.
If you want variety and a true Mediterranean diet at its most delicious and fresh, just head to Puglia on the stiletto heel of Italy.