Adventures in the Pugliese Kitchen

Day 15:

Last full day of this absolutely incredible vacation. Today we venture even further south, to Gallipoli. Gallipoli is a coastal town in Apulia, southern Italy. The historic center, on an island off the mainland, shelters churches like St. Agatha’s Cathedral, with its ornate facade. Nearby, the Church of St. Mary of Purity has a maiolica tiled floor. Gallipoli Castle includes the Rivellino tower, standing apart from the main building. Across the bridge, on the mainland, is the Greek Fountain, dating from the Renaissance.

We meet for a day of cooking with Anna Maria.

We go to the market to select the ingredients for our class and then proceed straight to the kitchen for a hands-on cooking lesson. I’m in heaven. Here our new friend shares the secrets for preparing some of Puglia’s most beloved dishes.

We prepare a dessert with custard which is a traditional salento cake. This has to sit and chill before going into the oven.

We cut up zucchini and cherry tomatoes for our antipasto. The zucchini sautes in a pan of garlic and olive oil.

Natalie loves fresh zucchini.

The calamari and tomatoes for our appetizer.

We mix semolina flour and water together and roll our dough into a ball where it will rest

Once rested we roll and cut into orecchiette.

Dessert out of the oven.

Now that the meal is prepared it is time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Fresh pasta with cherry tomatoes and olive oil.

We sit together to enjoy our beautiful meal and some outstanding local wines to accompany our lunch. Buon Appetito!!!

Love and light,

Jeanine on the Scene

Day of Leisure in Italy

Today was a day to relax, no scheduled trips or tours. We decided to go to the beach even though everyone said it was supposed to rain. We headed to the Ionian sea where the water is crystal clear and light blue. You can walk and walk out into the water and it stays about waste deep. The warmth of the water and salt coating your skin feels like a warm blanket.

After lunch we head back to our Masseira where we are treated to a private tour that takes us under the road to ancient roads uncovered that were built in Roman times. A tower stands, that has been rebuilt from stones collected as it once stood, holding carrier pidgeons, where there eggs were collected. They also used there feces for fertilizing the olive orchards. I imagine myself in those times, the hard labor, the stones set by hand and the intricate and precise work done without current and modern tools.

We dine tonight on rabbit and lamb created by the chef and watch the thunder and lightening in the skies.

Another blessed day in Puglia.

Love and light,

Jeanine on the scene

Lecce, “Florence of the South”

Day 11:

This morning we visit Lecce. Lecce is a city in Italy’s southern Apulia region. It’s known for its baroque buildings. In the central Piazza del Duomo, the Cattedrale di Lecce has a double facade and a bell tower.

The Basilica di Santa Croce features sculptures and a rose window. Nearby are the Sant’Oronzo Column, a Roman column topped with a bronze statue of the city’s patron saint, and the sunken Roman amphitheater.

The city boasts amazing Baroque masterpieces and treasures of Italy. We take a fascinating tour of this city which is rich in history, architecture and culture. From the Roman amphitheater to the noble palazzi, the city is brimming with imposing sites.

Lecce is also known for its pastries; so we must try some of the famous “pasticiotto leccese”. They also have a yummy caffe called “caffe Leccese” which is espresso with a shot of almond syrup poured over ice and stirred. I wanted a large one but they look at you like your crazy. No to go cups here.

After a pastry or maybe 2 but who’s counting we are ready to shop at all the boutique shops. I mean whats better than that after some sugar. Well there is a little something better but we will get to that, trust me. We shop and shop and stop for lunch. We order with the help of our guide appetizers of eggplant, beans, and chicory which is bitter but unique. Also potatoes with arugula, olives and whole peppercorns. Our main dish arrives, a stuffed calamari which is fresh and delicious.

In the afternoon we take a visit to one of Puglia’s most renowned wineries – Li Veli. We receive a great tour with the vineyard’s expert oeologist (Oenology is the science and study of wine and winemaking; distinct from viticulture, the agricultural endeavours of vine-growing and of grape-harvesting.). Very interesting indeed. We are treated to a private wine tasting over-looking the ageing barrels of wine. See I told you there was a little something better . What more can a girl want; espresso and pastries, shopping, lunch and wine tasting = HEAVEN!

Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene

Ceramic Artisans of Grottaglie

Day 10:
We leave the ancient cave dwellings of Matera and journey to Grottaglie; which is a famous center for ceramics. Grottaglie is a town and comune in the province of Taranto, Apulia, in southern Italy. Imagine a town that has survived for hundreds of years on making beautiful hand-made ceramics. Add a twist of Southern Italian charm, workshops dug into soft stone to form grottos (grottaglie – that’s where the name comes from) and hundreds of artisans turning clay into pots, jugs, plates, cups, saucers, statues and other works of art – then you would have Grottaglie. There are many workshops and beautiful aritists’ showrooms that we meander through.

My niece making her vase.

And while Grottaglie is called “citta della ceramica” it is also called “citta’ dell’uva” (of the grape), so we had to taste some of the table grapes and of course the wines that they make, from Primitivo, Negroamaro, Fiano and other varietals. We enjoy lunch, so many foods. Zucchini blossoms, carpaccio with figs, focaccia, tuna and then pasta as our secondi. So much food that they eat. Its no wonder why they nap ftom 1 -4 every day. We then head to our beautiful countryside retreat for the next three nights. Masseria Palombara.

Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene

Sea Caves of Polignano a Mare

Day 9

This morning we are headed to the striking cliff top town of Polignano a Mare which hosts the annual Red Bull Cliff Diving Championship. This event will be LIVE on September 23 at 12:30 PM CEST (10:30 AM GMT) on www.redbullcliffdiving.com. The birthplace of Domenico Modugno, writer and interpreter of the world famous song “Volare” (flying), is part of the province of Bari, Puglia, and inhabits just a little more than 16,000.

A modern skiff (boat) takes us into the spellbinding sea caves where many a smugglers traveled. The beauty of mother nature of water and wind that have created these caves. We experience the colors and light that play off the water.

The smell of the ocean water and breeze that blows into these caves settles into my mind and heart and great gratitude of being able to see this magical spot. I thank God for allowing me to see this and many other special places I have visited on this trip.

We are able to stop and dive into the beautiful Adriatic sea and cool off before boarding the boat for a glass of Prosecco and some snacks.

We return to explore this quaint town and eat more pizza and pasta. Wow its all so good.

Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene