A Culinary Tour of Italy
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Extra virgin olive oil is ubiquitous in the region's rustic, hearty cooking—it's drizzled on everything from fresh seafood (caught in the Adriatic Sea and Gulf of Taranto) to vegetables (including pickled lampascione bulbs, wild arugula, and greens). Pasta here is eggless and hand-formed into orecchiette and cavatelli (although the names change from village to village). Bread is always baked in wood-burning ovens, and is often elevated to an art form. Finding native wine varietals like Primitivo and Nero di Troia requires a bit of legwork, but the payoff is well worth the effort.
Gastronauts visit Monte San Michele, situated on the Gargano spur of the Italian boot, to experience the unique flavours of Taverna Li Jalantuumene. Its cucina places a high premium on local ingredients such as fava beans, cheese made from Podolica cows' milk, and extra virgin olive oil. My favorite dish is the orecchiette with vegetables, almonds, and Parmigiano. After dinner, take a tour of the extensive wine cellar, which is located under a well in the piazza.
Further inland near Foggia, the tiny medieval village of Orsara di Puglia has become a popular culinary destination, thanks in large part to the efforts of Peppe Zullo, whose restaurant, cooking school, and Tuccanese vineyard (a traditional red varietal) all work in concert to promote the virtues of the local cuisine. Another great stop in Osara is Pane e Salute, which bakes its bread in a straw-burning oven that dates back to the 16th century. Diners can watch the baking process before or after consuming a high-carb lunch.
Fornello da Ricci, a restaurant farther down the coast near Brindisi, is considered one of the region's finest. Its dining rooms, replete with wood beams and stone floors, complement the cucina's rustic menu. Standout dishes include handmade pasta with eggplant and mint sauce, flourless ricotta gnocchi, and roasted spring lamb and kid. The wine selection is nothing short of spectacular.
Ristorante Peppe Zullo
Località Piano Paradiso
Orsara di Puglia (FO)
Taverna Li Jalantuumene
Piazza de Galganis (Largo le Monache), 5
71013 Monte Sant'Angelo
Pane e Salute
Via Caracciolo, 13
Orsara di Puglia
Al Fornello da Ricci
Contrada Montevicoli, 71
72013 Ceglie Massapica
Closed Monday evening and all day Tuesday, all of February, and all of September.
All credit cards accepted.