The Food and Wine of Puglia
Puglia, the "heel" of Italy's boot, is a fertile land with fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, and meat in abundance, and is Italy's top producer of bread, olive oil, and wine! More than Tuscany, more than Sicily, more than Umbria. And yet, as one of Italy's largely undiscovered gems, it remains an authentic and un-touristy destination. So here are some of our favorite things to eat in Puglia, and the wines we'd pair with them!
Puglia is almost entirely coastal—really, look at the map of Italy!—which means that fresh seafood abounds. Two of our favorites? Cozze (mussels), which are served a variety of ways in Puglia. We like them "alla tarantina," or with a light tomato sauce, which mixes with the natural sea broth of the mussels and forms a delectable juice, perfect for sopping up with some Pugliese bread. But we also like them in a tiella barese, a savory baked stew of mussels and potatoes.
Our other favorite seafood dish in Puglia is, of course, the crudo barese, of Puglian sushi. In Bari you can find a plethora of choices for the "crudo"—not only fish, but sea urchin, shrimp, octopus (pulpe rizz', or curly octopus, is a particular specialty), cuttlefish, and more.
What wines to pair it with? The crudo barese of course calls for a white wine. Try a local DOC gravina. For the mussels? You can go with a red if it's not too tannic, or a rosé: perhaps the famed "Five Roses" Rosato Salento from the Leone de Castris winery.
Puglia has perhaps more indigenous pasta shapes than any other region in Italy. Perhaps it's due to the amount of grain (and therefore flour) they produce, but such archetypal pastas as orecchiette, cavatelli di Puglia, Sagne ‘ncannulate, ciceri, and minchiareddi hail from here. Try the classic orecchiette alle cime di rapa (with turnip greens), minchiareddi ai frutti di mare (with seafood), or Sagne 'ncannulate con pomodoro (with tomato sauce). You won't be disappointed. And for a pairing, crack open a bottle of Puglian red wine!
You can try these dishes and more on a cooking vacation in Puglia. We offer a number of options, including A Culinary Adventure in Puglia, our best-selling vacation in the south of Italy. If you'd like to learn more, just give us a call!
By Peg Kern
Sign up to receive our email newsletter, which includes travel tips, recipes, promotions, and information on our best itineraries.By Peg Kern