Not surprisingly, many of our favorite memories of Italy involve food – fresh, scrumptious, creatively prepared and beautifully presented dishes. I’ve posted about some of those experiences in Emilia-Romagna and Puglia already, but there’s much more to share.
In Ostuni (“The White City”), one of the picturesque hill towns of Italy’s Puglia region, we stayed at Masseria Il Frantoio where exceptional gourmet multi-course dinners were served in its lovely courtyard. Masserias are countryside lodgings in former farm house communities, unique to the Puglia region. We’ll talk about more about them in future posts.
Surrounded by colorful bougainvillea, lush plants and trees blowing in the balmy breeze, we enjoyed each course, paired with fine wines from local vineyards and described to us by owner Armando Balestrazzi and staff.
Armando’s wife, Rosalba, runs the kitchen, constantly creating new recipes. The ingredients for the dishes are all sourced locally, most from the masseria’s herb and vegetable gardens, and expansive ancient olive groves with centuries-old trees.
The short version of the meals (basically five courses, instead of seven) were served over a two-hour period, the full dinner extending the meal about another hour. It was a luxurious dining experience under the skies.
Would you like a taste?
Panzerottini con ricotta e bietoline selvatiche
Fried pasta with ricotta and wild swiss chard
Verdure de’estate assise in cesto di pecorino
Wilted summer vegetables in a basket of sheeps cheese
Polpette di melanzane alla menta
Little balls of eggplant (aubergines) with mint
Alici indorate e fritte e alici marinate in rosso con aneto
Fried anchovies and marinated anchovies with wild fennel sauce
Nashtri integrali con zucchine, fiorilli e salsa allo zafferano
Handmade noodles with zucchini, zucchini flowers and saffron sauce
Dolce amaro al caffè
Sweet and bitter cake
Sorry, I took a bite before taking the photo. Who could resist? The cake was accompanied by one of 35 special liquers made at the masseria with diverse, exotic flavorings.
After such a delightful meal, a good night’s sleep would seem in order. Or perhaps a festival. More to come.
For more information about the inn and restaurant: Masseria Il Frantoio
Our thanks to Puglia Promozione for hosting our Puglia experience.
Wow, what a really nice experience, and those samplers, yes I definitely would love to try them, now how do I get my cyber sample?
That’s got to be the next think in cyberspace, Noel — taste samples!
Cathy, the noodles, vegetables on bed of sheep cheese and fried pasta look amazing. I’m not usually much a desert eater (every now and then) but that sweet and bitter cake looks amazing! I would have absolutely tried that! 🙂
When I’m home, I don’t usually have dessert after dinner (after lunch is another story). But on this trip, I couldn’t resist.
In Italy, it’s all about food, isn’t it?
Everything looks fresh and light and appetizing and so beautifully presented.
Thanks for linking up this week, Cathy!
The presentation was wonderful. It was also a nice change to have the dinner so leisurely paced so that we could really savor the dinner.
What a lovely place and the food looks delicious
The setting was certainly a big part of the experience.
Zucchini and pasta – lovely combination!
Pasta goes with just about everything, don’t you think? 🙂
I do! I do!
Fried pasta with ricotta and wild Swiss chard please! But it all looks delightful, she says contemplating two ryvita with cottage cheese for lunch.
I could have had another helping of the fried pasta dish — maybe even a third helping.
Glad I could convey that with these pics. 🙂
Not fair. I put myself on Weight Watchers today — just to get into fighting (er, eating) form for our trip to New Mexico at the end of September. Everything looks amazing (and in reasonably sized portions) — except I might have skipped the anchovy course. Or maybe I would have given them another try just because of their presentation. Did they say how old the olive grove was? Those trees look like they’ve been around for awhile.
The average age of the trees in their grove is about 700!! The oldest is about 1000 years old. I was totally surprised.
OMG! I think I just gained two pounds reading this post. Yummy it must have been. That town looks like our kind of place!
Jackie, I think you’d love that whole area — the towns, people and the food!
I am in awe of ancient trees, especially olive trees because they produce for such a long time. Even when times are poor they sustain the people. The courtyard at night is my favourite photo – I want to teleport myself there.
That courtyard was a lovely setting for lovely meals. I was really surprised about how old the trees are (avg 700 yrs old) and that they actually produce so long. Very cool. 🙂
What can I say? I am practically licking the screen to get a taste of all that fabulous looking food ! :):)
LOL — you and Noel (comment above)! We’ve got to figure out a way to provide cyber samples.
I have read about Masseria Il Frantoio but never stayed there. Now I wish we had!! Dinner looks superb
Would love to read about where you stayed.There are quite a few masserias in the area I’d like to try, too.
Delicioso! I’d especially like to try the eggplant fritters and the cake. And so glad you got to attend so many festivals when you were in Italy! They really are the best way to connect with the local culture.
Our experiences in Italy — north and south — were wonderful. What a trip!
Oh my. I was already hungry when I started reading this. Now I am starving! Can’t wait to have a similar experience when I visit Italy next year.
Hope you have a fab time!!
My mouth is watering. Those dishes look delicious, and it must have been so fresh with the ingredients grown so near by. I’m also impressed that they make so many flavors of liquers at the masseria. Now, I have a hankering for some authentic Italian food.
Before heading to Italy, I expected to have some fabulous food, but I was pleasantly surprised by how absolutely fresh everything was — pasta, vegetables, fruits, seafood, etc. ……
Eggplant balls! I need to make these a part of my life.
Indeed, you should, Scott! 🙂
What a time you had in Italy. Thank God I at least had the odd lobster roll on my travels – but no meals that looked like anything you had. I’d be gaining weight on a trip like this as I wouldn’t be able to say no to anything. I’ve never heard of fried pasta before but it sure looks yummy.
Believe me, I did gain weight on this trip even though we were very active every day. — I’m not complaining. 🙂
Hi Cathy, I’d love to stay at one of the masserias! Looks beautiful, earthy and atmospheric — and such a gastronomic heaven! I just finished dinner but your tasting makes me drool. I should tag along with you next time. You seem to find all these places with great eats!
We had some excellent help in preparing our itinerary. The concept of the masserias was new to me — they’re unique to the Puglia area. I’d love to experience more of them.
All the food looks beautifully made. I love Italian food and I’m sure I will enjoy these. I’m jealous now 🙂
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That food looks divine… YUM!
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