Any foodie worth their salt (no pun intended) will find a little bit of paradise in the heel of Italy. Easily the culinary capital of Italy, Puglia will delight your tastebuds with fresh produce and food full of flavour and love. All of it complemented by some of the best wine the region has to offer, of course.
Puglia’s culinary authenticity thrives under the Cucina Povera syntagm, roughly translated as poor cooking. Due to the lack of rain, the Pugliese people had to rely on the little they had. But what they lacked in diversity, they made up for in flavour.
So let’s dive in to a virtual tasting of the culinary adventures on our Dolce Vita Experience.
Pasta Making and Cooking Class
You’ll head over to a Masseria, a traditional farmhouse, where you will be initiated into the art of Italian cookery. Here you will make the pasta from scratch, using a few simple ingredients, just as the Pugliese ancestors used to do. Under the careful eye of your Italian chef, your hand-eye coordination will be tested in making the traditional orecchiette, ferrocelli, and quattroditta.
The simplicity of the cuisine also comes from the re-purposing of meals. With the scarcity of produce, nothing went to waste and could be incorporated into a brand new delicious dish. This is the case of cialeda and polpette di pane where the main ingredient is, surprisingly, stale semolina bread. Mixed with fresh vegetables, sugar, spice, and everything nice, it will turn into a brand new meal you won’t wait to devour.
When all is said and done, relax with a glass of wine while the chef adds the final touches. Then, it’s time to tuck in your own creations. Buon Appetito!
With the semolina bread being the unassuming star of the previous evening, it’s only fair to see exactly how it’s made. At the family-owned DiGesu Bakery, the workers start the bread-making process at dawn. It is all hand-made, and when you arrive, the bread is happily baking inside the heavy-duty ovens. By the time the tour ends, the smell of freshly-baked bread will have surely enticed you enough. Not to worry, you will get to taste all of the bakery’s inviting products.
Besides the traditional semolina bread – warm, fresh out of the oven, it goes without saying – the Pugliese foccacia is not to be missed. Resembling a pizza, the pita is thick and puffy, sprinkled with fresh tomatoes and a flavour to die for. Don’t get too greedy, though, and make sure there’s enough room for dessert. We have biscuits on the menu, and the traditional taralli, a sort of cracker that can be glazed with sugar or flavoured with sesame, poppy, or even onion.
Bari Street Food Scene
Even though Puglia produces about 80% of Europe’s pasta, it’s not all about it. In Bari, you’ll get acquainted with the other side of the Southern Italy cuisine: street food. Heading into Bari Vecchia at dusk, the lively local atmosphere will welcome you. All you can do then is give in and join the chaos. Get a slice of the local flavour at one of the snack bars (our favourite is Cibo’). Here, you can try the famous panzerotti, mini versions of calzone, arancini, deep-fried balls of rice and bread crumbs, or the fried polenta, sgagliozze.
On your Bike Tour you will dive even deeper into the mastery of Southern Italian cooking. Watch as the Pugliese mamas expertly make the pasta, and tuck in a bowl of freshly made orecchiette con salsa di Pomodoro. Delish!
And if all of this makes your mouth water, go check out our Dolce Vita Experience. All the foodie magic happens here.
Written by Oana Moldovan, Untravelled Paths