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

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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

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

Wine & Balsamic Vinegar Tasting – Poggio San Polo/Radda

Well hello Day 3.

As we begin our morning after breakfast; we load the bus to go to our next destination in Radda. Off in the distance are the Ricasoli fortresses; historic castles dating back to the 12th century and the Ricasoli family. Lots of history here. We start our hike through the woods along a picturesque ridgeline with views of Radda in the distance and continue our trek with our final ascent into town.

We have lunch and I feel like a local, gathering with friends and talking of our day.

The afternoon is spent on our own for relaxation, a spa treatment, a swim in the pool or to explore the hotel and sip some chianti around the fireplace. We shop through the town.

This evening we enjoy a wine and balsamic vinegar tasting before dining at one of Radda’s restaurants.

Radda in Chianti, 53017 Province of Siena, Italy

Dinner:

Carbonara

Hiking options: Villa Route: 4.6 miles; Le Bonatte Route: 5.7 miles; Radda Route : 7.1 miles.

Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene