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Trulli Foodie Puglia-two weeks to eat through!!!

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May 20th, 2012, 11:56 AM
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Trulli Foodie Puglia-two weeks to eat through!!!

EXTREMELY LONG POST.......

After a long day starting at 6am in london, we arrived via Milan (the airport cafe has amazing bresola sandwiches!) a 40 minute straight-forward motorway drive and a little narrow road with only the odd trulli (its like being in a film, they are quite unique!) at 6.25pm at our very pretty villa in the Valle d'itria (half way between Fasano and Monopoli) to be welcomed by our lovely hosts, treats from the area and a very very much appreciated local shop done for us that the villa offered to provide as well as a gorgeous view out the sea..... its a lovely villa with its own little trulli, we really feel very far away from London here!

(now,i have to warn you, most of this report is going to be about eating an drinking

Apparently there are 53 different varieties of olive oil in Puglia (and you can see why- in just one day we have seen a LOT of olive trees!!), and the owners of the place we are staying at make their own (every other year- the trees have to have a year off as they cant produce two years in a row we are told) and were kind enough to give us a welcome bottle of it (as well as the most amazing sugared almonds and orreciette pasta and local savoury ad sweet almond biscuits!)- it is yummy olive oil, such a powerful flavour and the olives even just from the supermarket are so intense and delicious it puts the ones we get at home in london to shame (why oh why do they taste less good when they have been exported!).

We were so knackered we decided to stay in and enjoy the delicious goods we had. Our hosts also gave us some great reading material about the area and so got even more excited about the foodie treats all around us. We cooked a yummy orreciette pasta (couldn't be any other-c'mon we are in Puglia!) with tomatoes, a splash of red wine, olives, buffallo mozarella and wonderful salty, creamy parma ham added at the very end (it is so cheap here it's not fair!). ....Even though i cook a similar dish at home, it just seemed different here- the ingredients really stand out as being superior. We washed this down with the most lovely red wine we have tasted (again was just 4 euros!) and i thought i hated red wine!! its from the Salento (Primitivo 100x100 Taurosso) and was very light and floral and just yummy really!

After a wonderful night's sleep as it really is very quiet up here, with only little birds and the very occassion odd "toot" in the distance we enjoyed yet more ham with bread (almost sweet tasting here...) and marvellous fresh Italian coffee made on the hob (can't remember the thing's name, but you know the silver flute style coffee maker that just screams that's its italian and for proper coffee!). Even just opening the coffee contained we were blown away with the delicious aroma......We then decided to venture out to one of our furthest planned trips- Santa Maria al Bagna near Gallipoli. We wanted to get one of the long trips out the way and get familiar with distances etc etc. About an hour and a half drive, with just one major mishap- wrong turn through Galatone, which seemed liked a lively town we reached the pretty spot by the sea. It was so very busy already despite only being May! maybe it being a Sunday meant everyone came down the little beach. The water looked very clean and a gorgeous turquoise blue- we were surprised the Italians were in the sea as it was cooler than we expected and so thought for them it would have been way too cold- but no the families seemed to be enjoying to sun,sea and sand already. For lunch we had booked (and glad we did book as it was full, with a big party having booked the whole interior)

http://www.ristoranteartnouveau.com/

We had a lovely table out on the terrace overlooking the sea and a very helpful English speaking man welcome us. Now let the Puglian food fest really start.......

For "starters" (looking around the tables, there doesn't seem to be a clear starters and main format, its just food that you can order any way you like, we saw one table have a platter of seafood followed by pasta and another have the exact reverse ordered items). I had a wonderfully succulent prawns ("cooked on the fire") in a creamy truffle oil infused sauce-hmmmm excellent, the prawns were cooked to perfection (are these 'prawns" i hear myself ask, they seem to have a different texture-the texture of being cooked right i tell myself!) and the truffle was a lovely touch. My partner's muscles were the freshest and tastiest we have had in as long as we can remember. So so yummy, with parsley and white wine (i thought we should be more adventurous but seriously glad we went for these so so flavoursome, it was like the tastiness of salt but without the saltiness of salt- if that makes any sense at all!! We also got plenty of fresh bread which mopped up the sauces...

Next..time to sample some pasta cooked by the Italians!- i had a wonderful tomato based home made pasta with a twist (i forget the name but like long thin penne that has been twisted in the middle) with a lovely meaty fish chunks throughout (again so sorry i forget which fish- it was a dish called macronchini or something similar!!). It was perfectly al dente and tasty without being too heavy and was very very nice. My partner had a gnocchi- very large basil green gnocci which tasted of pesto even though it was not pesto as we know it but just seemed like it as all the ingredients of pesto seemed to feature with such intensity so i thought of it as being the meal pesto tries to mimic This too was yummy but very very filling!! we wanted to order more as we saw loads of wonderful seafood on the surrounding tables (boy the Italians can eat, the couple next to us had course after course after course!!) but we were absolutely stuffed. (On the way back we even had to stop mid road as my partner needed a breather after all the food being so filling!!). We finished off with the the one caffe (expresso- apparently u do not have cappucinos after breakfast in Italy or it's a big clue you are a tourist!). The kind waiter also offered us a lemonchello/lemon sorbet which we unfortunately had to decline (driving/full!) The restaurant was very nice, with a lovely setting and great food and one we would reccommend. The coated squid we kept on seeing (not skinny onion ring style but rather wide very lightly coated golden pieces) must be good as everyone seemed to order it and it seemed we were the only non-italians/locals there). We also saw a lovely looking fish cappaccio and a family of 6 all order a greta looking vongole...slurping away at it in silence-it must be good!! Total 53 euro- not bad! - this was one of our more expensive planned options so were pleasantly surprised, although if you wanted to stretch your purse strings some of the seafood could have you tempted!!

Now, seem as we've had pasta, the evening was screaming out for pizza.....we were told that I'l Tronco just of a tiny slip road near the villa served the best pizza in the area puglian style (thin and crispy!) so we gave it a go. We were warned that dinner is from 8pm and even then thats considered early...but excited an ridiculously too keen for pizza that we turned up at seven.....hmm we should have listened!! 8pm it was as the whole place was deserted and chefs were arriving at 8. Quick drive a long the coast, past yet more olive trees, caught a glimpse of Monopoli edging it's way out from the coast (tomorrow's visit!) even came across a mini fun fair with your british style burger vans (they have burger vans in Itlay!!-shock horror) and back again (7.50pm but we were too keen to wait much longer!!). Suddenly it has livened up, there were even people inside ordering. We were ushered to squeeze up to the car in front (oh dear how will we ever get out of this space!!) and then it was decision time....130 pizzas, a whole list of those with tomato and cheese, a whole list of those with just cheese, a whole list of those with neither tomato or cheese (hmm).....we were typical brits and picked both with the cheese and tomato base. We watched them being made (interestingly no tossing, just rolling.....have faith we told ourselves) and in and out of the oven literally in 4 minutes!, in which time we had been given a nice little appertizer of foccacia which oozed with peppery olive oil and was perfectly fluffy!! Yum! We had planned to do take out as we had some of that wonderful red wine left so we rushed to the car with our steaming pizzas.........drove home and quick as was legal via the trulli tiny bends (trulli suroounding tightly either side- we were back in Harry Potter again!) and then enjoyed the most delightful thin and crispy proper Italian style pizzas......the mushrooms while fresh had the gorgeous flavour you only get from the dried and soacked stuff an home (c'mon no fresh mushrooms in UK actually taste of much), the gorgonzola.....hmm wow so full flavoured and the most yummy salami piccante with the perfect amount of silky mozarella base and thin layer of t pomodoro. We literally ate this "hmm"ing al the way through. We decided we had to go and eat in at least once while we were here......
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May 20th, 2012, 11:56 AM
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more tomorrow.....
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May 20th, 2012, 11:59 AM
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Mmmmm more please!!
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May 20th, 2012, 12:15 PM
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hey jamikins-will do, hopefully try and report daily
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May 20th, 2012, 04:24 PM
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Oh my! This is fabulous!
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May 20th, 2012, 11:08 PM
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Hehe glad u enjoyed willow......Thank you

I just read the pasta I ad was cavatellii, it was pasta that woman used to sit outside and make by wrapping the past,a around a long pole several times and then chopping into little pieces and was a little social occasion for neighbours to catch up.....
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May 21st, 2012, 01:24 AM
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Yeah, Puglia rulez! ^__^

Vito
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May 21st, 2012, 04:05 AM
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You've arrived! Can't wait to hear more!

Did Art Nouveau have a sea view from the terrace? What was your impression of the town of Sta. Maria al Bagno?
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May 21st, 2012, 04:11 AM
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Also, Can you post the link of "your" villa so we have a mental picture as we read along?

Thanks so much and happy eating!
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May 21st, 2012, 06:54 AM
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hi eks (and vito-it sure does!)

no probs. We are staying at

http://www.villapulia.com/ca-del-fico/

which is surrounded by olives groves and the odd trulli (including its own). It is lovely and great as has a beautiful view out to the sea. We have just braved the pool and was lovely and refreshing

yep Art Noveau did have a sea view across the little road that drives through the village and the sea was looking very pretty and calm when we were there. We really liked the little waterfront village, it had a nice little beach- already busy and a nice promenade with trees lining it either side. When we arrived at 12 it was fully of people driving through but soon quietened down as lunch time arrived. It wasn't huge but bigger than we expected and e hadn't realised there would be a beach as such so were pleasantly surprised. If we were staying nearer the area we would most definitely go back to the restaurant.

Ok off for a siesta, luch again has tired us out!! more on that later
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May 21st, 2012, 07:18 AM
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Be still my heart!
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May 21st, 2012, 07:23 AM
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This is wonderful! Thanks for reporting.
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May 21st, 2012, 09:07 AM
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Wonderful so far and waiting for more! Have bookmarked the villa, looks divine.
Love your food descriptions, I'm hungry now!
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May 21st, 2012, 09:20 AM
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Looking forward to much more!
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May 21st, 2012, 09:50 AM
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My mouth is watering at your meal descriptions! Looking forward to reading more!
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May 21st, 2012, 01:43 PM
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hehe thanks all, my mouth has ceraintly been watering at each and every menu!! ok so just back from dinner (we braved driving in the dark!!) and before i sleep and give my stomach a chance to come to terms with the unusual amount of yummy food, its only fair to keep you updated...

So after another round of itlaian coffee bread and pruscuitto in the morning (this has to stop, we just cant cope with all this food and breakfast is going to have to be the something to "give") we ventured into Monopoli via the coastal road. The turquoise sea looked truly guidebook picture gorgeous and we enjoyed the short 15 minute drive (the roads seemed empty today). Now we were not expecting huge things from Monopoli simply as as far as we knew it wasn't a huge tourist spot but we were really quite pleasantly surprised. The centro storico is very nice and white and clean with a beautiful cathedral and very quiet white stone streets and houses. It was pratically deserted, we only saw 2 other tourists while we were there and the old little car toot through the tiny toy like lanes. There was plenty of washing hanging in the narrow lanes between houses and it felt a tiny bit like a small white dazzling naples but with little to no noise- locals were cleaning the stone ground around their houses which explained why it was all so shiny looking. This place looked how I imagined Puglian harbour towns to look, white and blue with the odd dash of pink. We really liked it and loved the waterfront fortress style walls with its little castello at one end with the harbour on the other side and the wide promenade between stone and sea. There was the odd sun bather by the waterfront too.

We stumbled across a square with a fruit market and bought some deep red tomatoes and some soft peach peaches and a little basil plant (when in rome and all that...) The stall holder didn't speak any English but we coped just fine with out tiny italian we had picked up (ok so we pointed on occasion!). There were also a huge variety of oranges of all shapes and sizes and dozens of crates of shiny courgettes and 1000s of deep red cherries- remind me why we don't have fruit markets like this at home?!?! We also found a little gelataria which had delicious looking gelato which we vowed to come back to after lunch as each and every flavour looked creamy, rich and delicious (we never made it, i blame the tiramisu!). There was a small cheese shop we visited via the hanging bead entrances (oh now what if behind those long beads is not the shop it said it was but a scary unknown world- we were brave and entered in!) We picked up some more creamy proscuitto and some gorgeously intensely flavoured hard crumbly cheese like a parmesan but a much deeper orange ("typico de puglia") which we have no idea what it was called as there were jus loads of mini wheels of it with no lables (by the time we got home it was well and trully sweating its intensity out!) and of course some gorgonzola. Don't get me wrong i adore french cheese but gorgonzola has got to be in my top 2 cheeses world wide only behind the to die for 'brie du melun' (not meaux-melun!) but il save that for a French trip report!. There was no way i was going to skip my number 2 cheese especially when in Italy. Everything we looked at the shop owner offered us a sample (again we tried desparately to understand the italian as he told us about the cheeses but we failed misserably!- oh well at least taste has no language barriers-everything we tried tasted divine so we took some of all we sampled-2 large cheese wedges, some tiny mozarella balls "mozaRELLa" and proscuitto -all for just 8 euro!! and when cutting the proscuitto they moved what must of been a 10inch diameter moradelli sausage. We vowed to dine in tomorrow and feast on cheese and ham Italiano style and maybe seek out some more of that scrummy fruity red wine We were starting to worry the samples might fill us too much before we even got to lunch so moved on...

Given how quiet the streets were we were surprised to find another couple already settled inside

http://www.lavecchiataverna.it/chi_siamo.htm

just down from the cathedral. It is a tiny place ran by a nice couple with a lovely arched stone ceiling, pretty blue table cloths and pretty pictures of Monopoli from times gone by with only a scattering of tables. Apart form the one other table we were the only ones there but we didn't mind, made us feel more special! Vito the owner came in after 5 minutes and was very nice and welcomed us to Monopoli "Arhh Miss 'elen" (i had booked-really no need at the moment as very quiet in this town on a monday at least). We settled in and were given a little bit of pan and pomodoro (Italian words just sound more romantic right!) to try- the tomatoes small and sweet on crunchy bread as well as a huge basket of soft bread (we resisted, we learned from yesterday bread can be dangerously filling here!). This time i was the boring one- seen as we have salad caprese at least once a week a home, i felt i had to sample the real deal at least once while we were here ad glad i did- the mozarella was so white and stretchy and with a delicate flavour- the texture was perfect and the tomatoes were ripe and juicy. Drizzled with olive oil and a tad of salt and some basil leaves, it was simple,light and refreshing (how will the ones at home ever compare now- although i do have a secret extra-raw garlic!) My partner ordered cheese and salami which thankfully they were out of salami so he instead was recommended a wonderfully presented, prawn, mozzarella and aubergine dish that was a little parcel beautifully on a small base of tomato sauce. You would not think prawns and cheese would go, but they did so so well-the aubergine was not at all stratchy/chalky but lovely and soft and well cooked-delightful!. To follow we managed to resist having pasta again (very tough since we avoided pasta for two weeks before out trip so were still dreaming of more after yesterday's feast!!) as we felt we should take advantage of the fabulous coast and what it had to offer. He had prawns cooked in lemoncello, which were fleshy pure white, fresh and yummy (no curled up tough stuff here!)- It seemed like they had soaked some breadcrumbs in the lemoncello and then grilled the prawns in this coating-we saw them rush over the lemocello bottle so knew was all done to order (plus we could hear the sizzling in the distance). I had octopus and cuttlefish which was extremely meaty and filling and grilled and which i drizzled with a squeeze of lemon they provided- It tasted fresh and the octopus in particular had a very deep unique flavour but this is the real deal- where you know it is an octopus on your plate with the little suckers bursting out at you (as it should be but sometimes a shock to some!)- got to admit was a battle to finish as so filling but was certainly very nicely excecuted.

We thought we were stuffed but were too tempted by the Tirimisu to go without dessert-(again we are Italy, so how could we possibly say no!) it was light (maybe too light) and creamy with not too strong a coffee flavour and despite asking for a small portion was quite substantial (it all got gobbled up so they knew us better then we knew ourselves). To finish off we had "due caffe" and then were offered home made lemoncello on the house- which i took (partner having to do all the driving as i don't drive so felt quite guilty as he loves the stuff!) and wow it packed a punch!!.

We were reminded we were in Italy by how relaxed things are, lunch is important here and can easily go on for a several hourse, but the naturally cool interior was also a nice break from the midday sun !!! We were told from june 1st they had a terrace over-looking the sea which sounded lovely... went off back to rest after all this food (although sad not to sample the gelato we had spotted earlier-we were way too full) and maybe just the odd sugared almond (they are almost all gone -arhh what will i do!!) to keep us going till dinner...(if i could resist that gorgonzola which last night's pizza had me craving again)........

After our little sleep and a swim we ventured out again- this time to a little Masseria near Ostuni. But this was quite a feast which defeated us (we took our desert home, our bellies literally could not take another spoonful of food) and i think i need to recover before i can tell the tale of the delights that were victorious against us. We have promised ourselves a lie in in the morning so will report on this in the morning
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May 21st, 2012, 01:54 PM
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oh and apologies for all my typos, i am usually a little sleepy when i am writing these from all the food.........
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May 21st, 2012, 02:05 PM
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Omg loving this report - cant wait for more!!
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May 21st, 2012, 02:41 PM
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Mmmmmm I think one of the highlights of our two weeks in Umbria was " cooking in" and shopping for groceries, even when we just went to a supermarket. And cooking with the local olive oil was inspiring. It will be fun to hear about your culinary creations. Sounds like Puglia is a reason to plan another Italian adventure.
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May 21st, 2012, 02:46 PM
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uhoh- yep for sure, we love staying in and trying out the local ingredients and not to mention it saves on meals out. We learned today that two big restaurant meals in one day was just that bit too much.......still cant move...not even a yummy sugared almond can tempt me right now!!

Our main reason for picking puglia was for food and so far it has proved a great choice......
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