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No trip to Italy could ignore the intensity of flavours, the mouth-watering smells and the smooth, delicate wines. How then does Puglia add to the wonderful collections on the Italian menu?

In keeping with the tranquil land within the crystal Mediterranean ocean a normal Pugliesi table consists of very simple yet exotic flavours that once experienced will have you longing for more. In fact, many basic elements of the Italian kitchen originate from Puglia. A vast amount of Italy’s fish is caught in the renowned clean waters along it’s coastline, it produces two thirds of the country’s olive oil, at over 250 million litres per year and the region provides around 80% of Europe’s pasta.

Whilst we strive to buy ‘organic’ foods, sort out in small pockets of our supermarkets, the Puliesi would have to search to find non-organic food. Everything placed in front of you is farmed organically and an Italian would laugh if you were to ask if the food were organic - “Is there any other way!?”

Indeed, much of the land is still cultivated by hand, following in the footsteps of their forefathers. The area is a hive of agriculture. Every corner will see an Italian tending to his land. Dark sun drenched skin, bright white smiles and almost leather-like hands that look like they have seen countless work over the millennia. Ageless faces, giving the impression they have been here forever - it’s impossible to tell a persons age as they are so healthy and fit. It is said that this dates back to the extensive use of the olive, using it not only as food, but also to rub the rich oil into their skin as a cleanser, a tradition followed also by the ancient Greeks, with scents extracted by flowers.

Their experience as they tend their crop is second to none, passed down from generation to generation. And what makes it so special, if you take some time to stop and spend a moment with these wonderful people, they will gladly chat and offer you a taste of their bountiful produce. There is no better way of tasting a fresh olive, delicate peach, sweet cherry or vibrant grape, walnut and almond. The list is endless, simply perfect.

It’s not so much a way of eating, as a way of life in Puglia. Dishes are simple, with plump fruits and muscular vegetables freshly picked from their own supplies and exploding with flavour. Fish is as fresh as a sea breeze, with a variety caught according to seasons. Meat is almost thrown on the plate, cooked in a traditional wood oven and delicately seasoned with sweet smelling herbs, avoiding over use of sauces that hide their flavours. The Pugliesi say that it is not necessary to complicate matters; ‘simply combining the superb, fresh ingredients of the region, allows the dishes to create themselves’.


History sees Puglia known as ‘the wine cellar’ of Italy, thanks to an abundance of rich red wines that were often used by the northern regions to mix in order to produce the perfect taste. Now though, Puglia has established itself as a fine wine region in it’s own right, producing far greater quality wine and gaining international recognition. It now produces more wine than any other region, with over 17% of the national total

As an industry, wine is understandably produced professionally and with high level of technology, but look carefully and the old magic is still on show today. You can watch the preparation with original tools as it was done all those years ago, three generations of a family working to complete the full flavoured wine and give you a clear understanding as to the skill involved in creating the wonderful flavours as they were generations ago; A real treat.

There are 25 DOC wines, 52 reds, 28 whites, 22 rose, 17 sweet and 9 ‘spumante’ available to savour and a whole host of local wines to try on your stay in the region. Our favourites are the smooth well-balanced Primitivo reds, the easy drinking Locorotondo DOC white and a sparking white wine that is a surprisingly true summer treat.

In short, we think it would be nearly impossible to find a wine you do not like to accompany your antipasti, ‘primi’ and ‘secondi’. Not to mention the home made Limoncello, mixed with Mandarin oranges as a tasty and refreshing finish to your evening.

food and wine puglia

Dolce - Sweets

It would be criminal not to mention the host of ‘dolce’ or sweets available in Puglia and we strongly suggest that you try as many as you can.

The joy of the taste experience, is that each of the sweets are available as miniatures in the café’s, so you can choose a plate full whilst you enjoy a ‘café’ and then take your favourites back to the Trullo in a beautifully wrapped, decorated carton to enjoy as an afternoon snack (with a cup of tea if you still savour the old English tradition). So many different tastes on offer with rich chocolates, fresh creams, fruits and alcohol, pastries, tortes and the ‘semi-freddo’ (half icecream) cakes are adorable.

If you are a chocoholic, then do not fail to try the hot chocolate drinks in one of the bars in any of the towns you visit. In some places, you can turn the cup upside down, and the chocolate won’t drip out!!

Not to miss

Cheese is wonderful in Puglia. Tasting a fresh Mozzerella, made from either sheep or buffalo milk, dropped in your hand by its maker is like no other taste in the world, so creamy and warm. ‘Burrata’ is a wonderful cheese with a sweet creamlike centre. The ‘Ricotta’ is beautiful, and the ‘Cacioricotta’ (a hard, aged ‘Ricotta’) is perfect, and so fresh when grated over pasta, a subtle difference to the usual grated Parmesan. Saying that, ‘Parmigiano’ is not to be missed, and a such low prices is often slung on the table on wooden board, accompanied with a knife to tear off larges pieces and enjoy with beautifully ripe tomatoes.

An enjoyable ‘Antipasto caldo’ (warm starter) is ‘Mozzerella’ wrapped in ‘Prosciutto’, baked in terracotta pots in the oven. Another welcome and refreshing ‘Antipasti’ is melon draped in ‘Prosciutto’. For a fish experience, try the ‘Cozze’, mussels topped with breadcrumbs, ‘Parmigiano’ and olive oil and then baked in the oven.

‘Orecchiette’ (‘little ears’), are small round, concave pieces of pasta representing the traditional pasta of the region. It appears in a variety of different ways, sometimes with mixtures of whole-wheat and regular flour. Size variations produce different names, ‘Chiancarelle’ for the smaller type and ‘Pociacche’ for the larger. The pasta is served up with a variety of different vegetables, garlic, onion, hot red pepper, sweet pepper, ‘Fave’ (beans) and various sauces. Our favourite is the meaty tomato sauce with a sprinkling of ‘Cacioricotta’.

Other traditional pasta’s include ‘Traccoli’, a square Spaghetti made with a special rolling pin consisting of circular blades and ‘Strascenate’, small squares of pasta dough rubbed over a ridged board to create one side with a ribbed texture.

A wonderful, yet simple traditional meat dish is ‘Tagliatta’. Excellent cuts of Veal are cooked in a wood oven, sliced into strips and then covered with ‘Rucula’ (Rocket leaves) and ‘Parmigiano’. It’s finished off with rich olive oil and often served on a wooden platter. The best restaurant for this dish is ‘Paradiso di Puglia’ where the owner will take pride in serving his speciality dish.

It goes without saying that you cannot visit Italy without having a pizza. I have visited many different regions in Italy, spanning from north to south, and yet to find a better pizza than the ones prepared in the age old traditional ovens of the south. Gorgeous topped with the traditional ‘Salsiccia’ (sausage), ‘Funghi’ (mushrooms), ‘Cipolla’ (onion) and baked or served with fresh ‘Mozzerella’, ‘Rucula’ and ‘Pomordoro’ (tomato) to give an explosion of clean flavours.

There are so many different flavours and smells to relish in Puglia and you definitely won’t be disappointed in the food and drink on offer in this capital of original Italian cooking. We urge you to sit down, relax and allow yourself to experience a taste of a lifetime.