Puglia’s Gastronomic Emergence
By Francesca Spizzirri
After centuries of staying quietly under the radar, Puglia is experiencing an emergence as Italy’s new ‘IT’ summer destination and its gastronomic fair – traditional and authentic, just like its people – has food enthusiasts abuzz.
Sitting on the sunbaked heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia is perfectly situated on five hundred miles of Adriatic and Ionian coastline – mountains in the north, plains in the south – its stark, unspoiled beauty is home to some of the brightest blue seas, historic little towns, colorful folk traditions and mouth-watering food.
Puglia’s agricultural heritage and ever changing landscape provide the ingredients for a variety of culinary treats. Try the sumptuous burrata, a fresh mozzarella casing filled with shredded pieces of mozzarella and salted cream. Afterwards, indulge your sweet tooth with a pettola, a fried dough ball drizzled in Vincotto (cooked wine).
This region produces 40% of Italy’s olive oil, the perfect companion to the region’s delicious bread baked in wood-burning ovens. Famed for their orecchiette pasta, little ear-shaped shells that are still produced by hand, Puglia has 200 types of pasta. The maccheroni al forno are also a must try!
With its spectacular coastline and long fishing tradition, Puglia serves up a superb selection of fresh local fish: red prawns, mussels, anchovies and sea bass are featured in the many restaurants that line the beach towns of Gallipoli, Otranto and Taranto.
In the region’s mountainous interior of Cisternino and Valle d’Itria, meat reigns supreme. Visit the rosticceria butchers and enjoy a fabulous glass of wine; reds are especially good, as your meat is cooked in a wood-burning oven or hot charcoal grill.
Wherever you go, expect great food – perhaps some of the best in Italy. Stand out restaurants in Puglia include the award-winning Osteria Del Tempo Perso that has been serving delicious Apulian specialities in the old town of Ostuni for over 30 years. At Specchia Sant’Oronzo, witness one of the most spectacular sunsets in the region at this beautiful restaurant/bar overlooking Polignano a Mare’s old town. Afterwards, enjoy a passeggiata along the pebble cove to take in the view of the caves and the old town built into them.
With a rich and ancient culture, brilliant seas and incredible food, Puglia is definitely a place worth visiting on your next trip to Italy!