How to survive Italian Bureaucracy?

bureaucracy1.jpg One word PATIENCE!

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Sunday Lunch/Pranzo della Domenica

DSC02818.JPG       Sunday lunch is HUGE here in Puglia. A gathering of family and close 
friends for a feast!

My ex mother in law  would start preparing this feast  early in the morning, I would watch and learn from her. For a very special occasion we would make Lasagna,   however most Sundays  we would make Orecchiette pasta and lay it out to dry, then getting out her largest pots and pans, a tomato sauce would be started. Next on the agenda, braciola would be prepared. Braciola is a thin piece of meat that is stuffed, rolled, tied, browned and then simmered in the sauce. It can be stuffed with a variety of grated cheeses, prosciutto,  breadcrumbs and herbs. No two cooks make them the same. She also added  meatballs to her sauce. Believe it or not we also had time to walk to the local church for Sunday mass, returning home by 12.45pm, family would arrive for Sunday lunch at 1.15pm…bringing a tray of pasticcini (pastries) for dessert!

The family and often friends would gather around the table to enjoy the feast. First antipasto of cheeses and cold cuts, then  pasta would be served with the sauce, and of course a generous helping of the local freshly grated cacioricotta cheese. Next would come the meat that had been simmered in the sauce. This would be accompanied with a large loaf of crusty bread to wipe up the sauce and juices on the plate.  The meat  would be served with a small lettuce and tomato salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar along side. Last but not least, coffee and wonderful Italian pastries would be placed on the table. Sunday was a day of laughter and good food that I remember fondly.


Puglia Vacation!

Puglia Vacation!

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Puglia has it all, mild climate,  history,  beaches,  beautiful landscape, picturesque villages, nightlife,  bars,  gelato, last but not least the incredible food and wines of Puglia!

Stay at http://www.villamagnoliaitaly.com . Set in the heart of Puglia, Brindisi between Bari and Lecce, a short drive to Ostuni and Alberobello, 10 minutes to the nearest International airport.  Villa Magnolia  XVIII century noble ‘casolare’ set within 8 acres of land, ancient olives trees, almonds, fruit trees and a large vegetable garden. Manicured gardens, a large salt water pool and spa.  Privacy and exclusivity,  Villa Magnolia is suitable for couples only,  a full house is (and always will be) just 4 couples!

All bedrooms are air conditioned,  have WIFI and extra large modern walk in wet rooms. Breakfast is served from 8 am to 10am (flexible for late risers). Guests have complimentary mineral water 24/7 and can help themselves to tea or coffee any time of the day. Pool towels, beach mats and umbrellas are provided. Guests can use our bicycles if they wish to go for a  bike ride.

Massages can be booked too as we have a qualified masseuse who has worked here for the last 5 years, specializing in Ayurveda Massages. Perhaps you’d like to learn how to make some pasta or pizza or some other local recipe that you’ve tasted…just ask you never know you may end up in the owners kitchen cooking together!

A hire car is necessary to tour the area, however if you like to have a glass or two (or three) with your dinner, we can arrange a taxi service for you, or feel free to finish that nice bottle of wine you had at the restaurant  here at the Villa, we’ll provide you with the ice bucket and wine glasses too!

http://www.villamagnoliaitaly.com  Contact info@villamagnoliaitaly.com

 

View of Villa Magnolia

Food and Wine 4 Day Extravaganza!

2016 Dates: June 7th to 11th or September 8th to 12th 2016, suitable for couples!

Day 1: Arrive at your luxury accommodation http://www.villamagnoliaitaly.com,  settle in unpack,  when you are ready, enjoy an aperitivo or a glass or two of Prosecco with a few light snacks. Relax amongst the ancient olive trees or by the beautiful romanesque swimming pool. Later in the day the food and wine extravaganza commences! You’ll enter the chef’s large rustic kitchen and gather around a cosy island where you’ll participate in a fun packed hands on cooking lesson. A few of the culinary treats you’ll learn, are making the local  orecchiette pasta,  the tomato sauce,  and more!   The cooking class will culminate in sampling your efforts in  a four course dinner, with wine pairing for each course.  At the end of the meal… no need to drive anywhere as you’re just a few steps away from your comfortable bedroom.

Day 2: Breakfast al fresco, so relaxing that time can escape without notice.  A new adventure begins  at 11 am as you make your way  to a fabulous and informative a wine tour,  with wine tastings and lunch at the local winery. Of course you are welcome to bring back wine from your tour to enjoy here at the Villa. Then late afternoon back in the chef’s kitchen for a lesson on how to make Limoncello and our famous Mandarin’cello’  (tastings included)  In the evening   free time to explore the area and enjoy an evening meal at recommended restaurants.

Day 3: Start the day of sunshine and brilliant blue sky with breakfast under the pergola.  At 11 am  you will make your way to the local cheesemaker where you can watch  Mozzarella and Burrata being made. Later you may want to stop at the local panificio (bakery) for a loaf of oven fresh bread or a few “rosetta” rolls. The aroma of the freshly baked bread is so enticing it’s difficult not to sample some on  your return to the Villa. Tables  will be ready back at the Villa  for you to set out your fresh local  bread, wines and cheeses, take a walk through the garden and pick some of our organic vine ripened tomatoes and  rocket (rucola),  help yourself to our EV olive oil and balsamic vinegar,  perfetto!  After lunch a walk down the jasmine covered colonnade takes you to  the roman style salt water pool area where you can relax, read a book, sunbathe or enjoy a relaxing  Ayurveda massage in the temple area.  Late afternoon,  you’ll notice smoke coming from the olive wood, burning in the restored  stone pizza oven. This is the sign something special  is going to happen! Time to enjoy a few drinks before the fun begins. You will participate in a fun filled pizza making evening, plenty of food and wine whilst dining al fresco.  

Day 4: After your leisurely breakfast,  free time to explore many of the interesting sites in the area (Alberobello, Ostuni, Lecce etc). Late afternoon return to the Villa , enjoy some homemade bruschetta (made with our own organic tomatoes and olive oil) a glass of wine then sit back and enjoy the show of  the traditional Pizzica dancers by the swimming pool!  Then get ready to tour a magnificent antique Masseria (Farm House) where you will enjoy an  incredible eight course organic dinner with wine pairings for an evening that will leave  you a lasting memory.

For more information and availability contact info@villamagnoliaitaly.com

Wine time? Wine Tuesday is the new Wine Wednesday (at least until tomorrow).

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One of the best ways to discover Puglia’s wines for yourself is to sample them at your leisure, ideally take a tour of the vineyards and cantina’s  participate in a few wine tastings then bring your favorite wines back to the Villa, enjoy them anytime during your stay here at http://www.villamagnoliaitaly.com!
Puglia
is “the heel” of the boot of peninsular Italy. It is bordered by both the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, giving it one of the longest coastlines of any region in Italy. Puglia is also one of the most fertile regions in all of Italy. Olive trees, wheat, vines, fruits and vegetables cover the territory of Puglia like a colorful patchwork. Most visitors to Italy are not familiar with this region, or the wonderful food and wines on offer. Puglia where some of the best Italian wines come from. Most Puglia wine is red, full-bodied and will pair well with a wide variety of foods. Producers in Puglia have focused on making great red wines like ; Primitivo di Manduria, Nero di Troia, Negroamaro, Aglianico, Susumaniello, Malvasia Nera, Aleatico, Bombino Nero,  Salice Salentino.
White wines;  Fiano Minutolo, Moscato, Bombino Bianco, Verdeca, Greco di Tufo.

Remember, if one glass of wine is good for you imagine what a whole bottle can do!

Italian cured meats

coldcuts                                                                                                                                    Italy was traditionally an agricultural country, so almost every rural family kept a pig and cured every part of it. From spout to tail to provide food for the family throughout the year. In any Italian larder  a range of home cured hams, sausages and bacon would be found hanging from the ceiling!

Wherever you travel in Italy you will find regional variations on the same theme. Martina Franca (TA),  which is a beautiful town not too far from here, is famous  for their excellent  affettati  freschi ( lunch meats—also known as cold cuts)  Capocollo/Coppa Martinese. We always buy local lunch meats and have never been disappointed.  Most of these cured meats are served as antipasto before a meal:  Prosciutto crudo, Prosciutto cotto, Pancetta, Speck, Bresaola, Coppa, Mortadella, Salami To name a few !

My mother in law was originally from Camigliatello/ Spezzano della Sila – Calabria, I remember traveling  there to meet her Calabrian relatives, our first stop was Cosenza, then up the mountains to  Camigliatello. We arrived at a small  pig farm belonging to one of my mother in law’s  7 sisters!  We were immediately fed with some delicious cheeses and hams, homemade bread. The family sat around talking for hours, at that time I didn’t understand much Italian so I had a walk around the farm and saw (for the 1st time) a slaughtered pig hanging upside down with a large bucket to collect the pigs blood. When we  (eventually) left, the family loaded the boot of our  car with local cheeses, pancetta and lard cured in salt, last but not least plenty of local home grown Calabrian potatoes and some wine!

 

 

 

Artichokes in Puglia

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As mentioned in a previous post, I arrived in  Puglia many years ago, it was winter and my mother in law was fond of artichokes  she cooked them in a variety of ways. I had never eaten one until I came to Puglia, truth be known back then I didn’t know what they were!  At first I really didn’t like artichokes, but as time went by I began to enjoy eating them. Artichokes are grown abundantly in Puglia, they are one of the tastiest vegetables around this time of year. Not only good to eat, this diuretic vegetable is good for you. Artichoke has excellent nutritional value, aids digestion, strengthens the liver, the gall bladder, and reduces cholesterol levels, which diminishes the risk for arteriosclerosis and coronary heart disease. There are many many ways of  using artichokes, in risottos, with pasta and stuffed artichokes, fried artichokes and frittata.  VIVA IL CARCIOFO!