Culinary Puglia, eating out – eating in, it doesn’t get any better

Simple, home-made cuisine. Permeated with the ancient Greek culture and Arabian traditions. Then add Spanish nuances and French delicacies and you begin to experience the delights of Salentine cuisine.

Eating out, eating at home in your holiday villa whether you cook yourself or pre-order/collect lunch or dinner from a local restaurant, there is so much to enjoy. And why not try a cooking class with a local Italian housewife and learn even more about the tastes of Puglia?

Pugia Cjuisine Peperoncini fresh from the marketMediterranean aromas and flavours are characteristic of the Puglian table. From rosemary, basil, mint, sage, thyme, to hot peppers and more. The aromas wafting from restaurants as you stroll by, tempt the taste buds and excite the appetite. Local olive oil, rich and full of flavour, can only enhance the cuisine of Puglia.

Puglia has been known for it’s abundance since the arrival of the Phoenicians and Greeks who found that the land was already populated with competent farmers. Recipes have been handed down for centuries from mother to daughter, “Cucina Povera”, the “poor” cuisine of the peasants’ but rich in creative intelligence, inspiration and authenticity. Making best use of seasonal available produce, whether it’s fish from the Adiatic, fresh flavours from the vegetable garden, newly made bread, pasta – whatever your taste you will be spoilt for choice

Puglia Cuisine Seasonal Eating Zero Food MilesLocal cooking is based on seasonally, locally available produce. Housewifes will shop in the market and the small local stores, the days menu is based on what is available that morning. We try to do the same, loving the seasonality of the vegetables. When it’s nearly carciofi season you will see fields and fields of them just waiting to be harvested and taken to market. Puglia and, in particular, Brindisi is famous for them. Arthichoke risotto, deep fried artichokes, artichoke dip … just a few of my favourites. .

Vegetables figure prominently in pastas, soups and salads. So it’s not surprising for vegetarians to find a wide choice. Carciofi (artichokes), zucchini (courgettes), melanzane (aubergines), roasted peppers, finocchi (fennel), sedano (celery), rape (turnip greens), rucola (rocket) and the fava (broad bean), queen of beans, are used extensively. All imaginatively put together in a variety of dishes – you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Look out for bruschette with anchovies and sharp ricotta, orecchiette (pasta ears) with tomato and rocket, or traditionally with rape. Great meat and regional fish dishes vie for your attention. And all can be accompanied with local wines, white, rose and red.

For prima piatti, the home-made pasta made of durum flour, in many different varieties.

  • Orecchiette – small pieces of ear shaped pasta (literally “little ears”)
  • Maccheronicini – kneaded with a kind of knitting needle and turned with the palm of the hand
  • Sagne Ncannulate – strips of pasta, skilfully twisted

Served in so many ways, with fresh-home made tomato sauce, with local cheeses …. how do you decide?

For the secondi, fresh fish from the Ionian and Adriatic seas. Grilled white bream or sea-bass and giltheads. Mullets from Porto Cesareo, baked in paper. For the more adventurous, sea urchins brought in by the fishermen, octopus cooked in the characteristic terra-cotta pot.

And to finish, spuma di cioccolato fondente!

Bar Zoki, Torre San Gennaro

Yesterday we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Bar Zoki, Lido Felix, in one of our local sea-side villages, Torre San Gennaro. Bar Zoki can be found just past the piazza, perched on the edge of the Adriatic. With a covered deck open to the sea on one side and the beach on the other it has long been a favourite, for coffee, pre-lunch beer and evening aperitivi.