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

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

A day at the beach in Puglia, Italy

Originally we were set to go on a boat ride to see the sea caves but the weather was not cooperating this morning, rain had fallen last night and the wind was still bringing in a chance for rain so we postponed our boat ride for tomorrow.

So off to the beach we went. We went to the White Beach club, set up our lounge chairs and enjoyed a sunny day. At this beach the sand is a mix of tiny shells, a bit tougher on the feet and to enter the water you need to be careful as the shore is spiky lava rock. We enjoyed watching a little school of fush scurry through the water and crabs hide from us under rocks. We gathered shells along the shore, which I love to do at every beach I visit .

We enjoyed pizza at the restaurante

and tonight we had dinner at Grotta Palazzese, set in the cliffs.

This place has a spectacular view, is a romantic spot BUT THE FOOD WAS HORRIBLE! Not even edible and expensive too. So disappointing. We had heard the same reviews but were told there was a new chef so decided to try it. I dont usually give bad reviews but this restaurant needs to step up there game and get a chef that can cook.

The town itself is vibrant with lots of cute boutiques, restaurants and gelato shops everywhere. There was also a vendor street fair and the whole town seemed to be enjoying being out on a Sunday. Definitely worth going to see this cute town but skip the Grotta Palazzese please!

Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene

Puglia’s Green Gold

Day 7:

We begin today’s journey riding bikes along the beautiful Adriatic coast through some of the worlds most ancient and monumental olive groves.

Our first stop is a visit to a local producer of olive oils where we sample “Puglia’s Green Gold“. So called thanks to its golden color and its value ensured sustenance generation after generation. This property has been in the same family since the 9th century, the most antique agricultural arboreal existent landscape. We explore a cave that they uncovered once used in ancient Roman times to extract the oils.

Puglia supplies around 40% of olive oil production in Italy (it is the first region for quantity and quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced per year).The Italian heel also provides around 12% of the olive oil production in the whole world.

After our tasting we hop on our bikes winding through country lanes; and I am in awe of the beauty that I see; getting a different perspective on a bike to view the landscape and smell the fragrances of wildflowers. We stop to taste ripe figs and discover a caper bush. The path we ride on was an ancient Roman passageway and we contine on this path before returning to the coast. After a 20 mile bike ride we are on our own for the rest of the day and enjoy a fresh fish lunch in the fishing village, a gelato of course and meander through Savelletri which is a Province of Brindisi.

Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene

Tuscany Farewell onto Bari

Day 6:

This is the final morning for my Backroads active hiking and culinary adventures. Although I could do one final hike to the hilltop town of Bagno Vignoni; with its hot springs and 12th century castle and tower; I decide to save my energy for the 2nd part of my Italian vacation. Alitalia has gone on strike so I am diverted to a long day of travel on the train from Florence to Rome to Bari. I look around in Florence a grab a bite to eat, then head to the train station to wait for my train to arrive, read and people watch.

Heres what happens when you travel. S..T happens, right! So the train pulls up and someone had smoked in the bathroom so my compartment had the sprinklers going off. Twenty minutes late we leave and I anticipate not making my second train. What to do. So put it in Gods hands and said a prayer. Arrive in Rome and my transfer is in front of me , thank you!! Arrive in Bari and driver picks me and finally After a full day of travel I arrive safe and am ready for a shower and a soft pillow to lay my head. Just a day in my adventures. I meet up with my sister Lisa, niece Ali and family friend Natalie for the coastal second half of my trip; active food adventures in the region of Puglia by www.ItalyinStyletravel.com.

Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene