Photos From Puglia, Italy

Photos From Puglia, Italy Recipe

I figure that after yesterday the last thing people need is another recipe - so I've posted some photos from my trip to Puglia, Italy instead.

I was in Puglia (think heel of the boot, pronounced Pooh-lee-yah) last week for Olivita, an Oldways Conference focusing on the cuisine and culture of Puglia, and the benefits of olive oil and the Mediterranean diet.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Oldways, they are a Boston-based food issues think tank doing very interesting work. They are behind the Whole Grains Council and the increasingly visible black-and-gold Whole Grain Stamp program adopted by hundreds of companies like Bob's Red Mill, Kashi, and Lotus Foods to help consumers identify products that are whole grain. I'm also looking forward to their cookbook (next month?)...I'll be sure to highlight it when it is available. At any rate, keep an eye on them they are doing important work on many fronts.

The first thing I noticed as my plane descended into Bari was the vast green carpet of olive trees that stretched from the sea all the way inland. I've never seen anything like it - the perfect welcome mat to olive oil country.

We stayed in a small coastal town not far from Bari named Bisceglie. In the middle of the night from my hotel room you could see a single line of lights equidistant from each other on the barely visible black on darker-black Adriatic horizon. As the sun would start coming up in the morning the lights would start moving in toward the harbor until you could see the tiny one or two man boats on the water. I put my sneakers on early the first day to go out and explore the town and harbor area and found this guy and his fisherman buddies pulling in the days catch.

This guy is an olive picker at Spagnoletti Zeuli (as is the red sweatered guy in the photo way up top) - Piccolo Antionia and Lorusso Pasquale. We visited a number of olive oil facilities ranging from growers to producers to bottlers - both conventional and organic. A surprising (to me at least) percentage of the olive growers in the region are organic.

The food in Puglia is stunning. Lots of simply prepared fresh (and preserved) vegetables, beans, bitter greens and lentils. Wonderful cheeses, nice everyday wines, and plenty of vibrant, often wonderfully pungent, flavorful olive oils line shop shelves. All very affordable. One wine store I stumbled on in Bisceglie only sold Puglian wines - at least 100 different producers - and most of the bottles were in the 4 - 9 Euro range. You had to look hard for anything over that. The picture up above is the fresh mozzarella we were served (along with just-made orecchiette pasta and about 90 other delicious traditional dishes) at one of the most jaw-dropping lunches of my life at Masseria Barbera. I hope someone writes up that specific lunch in detail, because it was amazing and I was too busy eating to take many notes/photos.

This is hot-out-of-the-woodfired oven focaccia bread at the Beppe DiGesu's bakery in Altamura. See the glow of the oven in the background? There are dozens of loaves in there. Harris goes into more depth about the bakery, their techniques and tradition here.

More bread at DiGesu. Some of those loaves are HUGE. Over a foot-and-a-half in diameter huge. Perfect crust, perfect color. And below a picture of me not sixty seconds after walking into the bakery with a monstrous piece of focaccia in my mouth (its hard to shoot and eat at the same time!). Photo credit : Beppe DiGesu.


Gallery of larger (full-frame) photographs, here.

If you want to see more photos, here's a link to a slightly larger gallery of photos from the trip. I ran into a man in Bisceglie who had a "studio di arte e restauro" next to one of the old churches. He fixed up religious relics - mended angel wings, broken Jesus arms and worse. Some of the shots in that gallery are from the inside of his workshop.

Josh at the Food Section, as well as Nicki and Oliver at Delicious Days have posts/pics related the conference/trip as well.

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Comments

  • ahhh ... the romance that is Italy!! you lucky girl!!

    Snehal Roy
  • That was uplifting. I've lived in italy too before, and you've just reminded me how much I need to return. The place takes your heart and keeps a part of it so that you're always willing to hop on a plane and even more willing to try to disappear into an olive orchard somewhere... Thanks!

    Anonymous
  • Wonderful... Ah, I feel SOOOO homesick................. Ok, stop complaining.. Your pictures are gorgeous, especially those of the restoration studio. Thanks :)

    chemcookit
  • great descriptions & photos, makes me want to go. good to know there's an organization right hear in Boston plugging for whole grains. it's frustrating whole grain products aren't easier to find given the abundant health info in their favor.

    CookingChat
  • Good site! Thanks! More cookies recipe please!

    Cupcake
  • nice photo..... i like it very much

    genalyn
  • Wonderful post Heidi, as always! I love learning about other cultures and their food. :)

    Ari (Baking and Books)
  • Italy is transforming. It gives new meaning to having passion for food and eating. I was swept up more than 20 years ago now, and though I live in NYC, I still work there teaching cooking. I feel so blessed every time I take a sip of coffee there or drizzle my bread with olive oil good enough to make you cry, or dive my fork into a pasta that was rolled out by hand. (long commute, but worth it) It inspired me to write my new book, FAYEFOOD. I couldn't have done it without Italy. To have a sneak peek, go to lulu.com, enter FAYEFOOD in the search, and select preview.

    faye
  • Wow that focaccia looks amazingly beautiful!! I think I would go to Puglia just to get one of these too . In October I was on Crete and also like you in Italy was amazed by green carpet of olive trees vineyards.

    home cook
  • Viva bellla italia!

    marcu
  • I lived in that providence of Italy for a year 30 years ago, and even had a son in Brindisi. It was great seeing the pictures and having the memories. dp

    Anonymous
  • Thanks for letting us see Italy with you! I'd sure have loved to have a postcard from there! I collect them. =-) I loved seeing all the breads and all the beautiful people. Wouldn't it be nice to live where you could get all that fresh stuff? Wow,i'd be in heaven.

    Judy
  • That was a very interesting read. I am awfully hungry after a photo!! :) ....mMmMmmm

    Sedu H.
  • Wow, I can only imagine how fresh mozarella taste like... Great journey and thanks for the report:)

    gagatka
  • Thanks for letting us travel vicariously. What a wonderful trip that must have been! Great human interest images.

    Joyce
  • That was a very interesting read, and lovely pics. The stacks of breads look awesome.

    Pritya
  • Color me *green* with envy! I can hardly contain myself. What gorgeous photos, and what a wonderful trip!

    Jennifer Jeffrey
  • Sounds terrific. When's the New Zealand trip?

    Pat
  • YAY for all the photos! Thanks for sharing, Heidi! And I looooove the shot of you eating. JEALOUS! :)

    matt
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