Enjoying the Fabulous Food and Wine of Puglia
When you think of travelling somewhere in Italy with a real "foodie" focus, one of the places you should consider is the lovely region of Puglia. Holidays that take you to the southeastern coast, in what is considered to be the spur and the boot of the country, can give you the best of Italy in one single region - Puglia. Holidays here include a good dose of history, beaches, food and wine, and this area is one of the most archaeologically rich in the country. The lush landscape is an agricultural dream and the region provides much of the country's pasta, a great deal of its olives and, in recent years, it has begun to focus on creating wines of an exceptional quality.
The Fabulous Food
When it comes to dining well in Puglia, holidays to the area will reveal that the simple food is often the best. If you have a liking for freshly made pasta, this is the region to visit! On the streets of many of the small towns and villages you may happen upon cooks out in the street making homemade orecchiette, which are the ear-shaped pasta shells - perfect for soaking up the simple sauces, often made with broccoli, garlic, tomato and ricotta. Other types of pastas to try are the cavatelli (small boat shaped) and the longer, twisted I fricelli, all of which are specialities of the area. You should also sample the more-ish snacks called frisella and taralli. The frisella are durum wheat rolls cut in half and baked again until very dry and crunchy - perfect for a snack, often dipped in salt water to soften them a bit. The taralli are a great snack for eating on the road, and these small cracker-like biscuits can be either sweet or savoury. Much like tiny versions of bagels, they are briefly boiled before being baked, giving them a distinct crusty texture and taste.
For many centuries this area has been able to produce an abundance of wines (about 17% of all of Italy's grapes are grown here), but it was only relatively recently that the quality has become a more central focus. When visiting Puglia, holidays with a focus on wine tasting will be well rewarded. With its relatively flat lands, constant sun and gentle sea breezes, the region makes for rich growing grounds. The area now boasts some 25 DOC regions for their wines, which means that no matter where you go, you will be within reach of a well-made glass of vino - perfect for matching with the simple and elegant cuisine of the region. Almost exclusive to this area, the Negroamaro grape is used to produce some of the best wines. You should also seek out the Primivito, which makes a strong and full-bodied red. If you like white wines, you can find high-quality ones here too - try varieties from the Bombino Bianco grapes - but for the most part (80%), this is a red-loving region.