By Mr. TWS
There’s so much to post about the fabulous food in Italy that it’s hard to know where to start. So we thought we’d introduce you to some of the fresh seafood specialties we enjoyed at Balnearea Beach during our road trip through the Puglia region of southern Italy.
When we decided to head to Puglia, I was excited for many reasons, especially the thought of beaches and seafood, both in abundance there. On two occasions, I was able to get both, including the experience at Balnearea Beach in Otranto that really stood out. The beach was beautiful and I was able to spend several hours in the Adriatic Sea, though it was quite windy and cool, not the best beach weather we had while in Puglia.
Balnearea Beach also had a very nice restaurant with a patio dining area on the second floor, providing a great view of the beach and the Adriatic. The use of the beaches in Italy is interesting; there are many private beaches all along the coast, each with their own color of identically-colored umbrellas. I really liked the way the hundreds of umbrellas for each location looked. I never tired of these scenes of the almost-white sand, the beautiful blues and greens of the Adriatic, and the patches of identically-colored umbrellas common among the 700km of Puglia’s coastline.
But back to the meal itself. It was a wonderful treat and one of my favorite food experiences in Italy.
Fish, fish, and more fish
We were served platters of tuna, salmon, mussels, calamari, Puglia red shrimp, shrimp, sea bass, and scampi — and I’m sure I’m missing some. It was all fresh and mostly prepared raw, often with fresh tomatoes and arugula. The fish was locally caught, so “fresh” meant less than 24 hours. The food came dish after dish and in my enthusiasm to devour everything, I unfortunately took only a few photos and no notes. I do remember the wonderful presentation and believe that the descriptions below are correct.
The newest item for me and most interesting were the scampi dishes. They looked like large prawns with the heads on except they had lobster-like (but thinner) claws. They were served both fresh (raw) and grilled and they were awesome. Our local driver/guide, Carlo Romano, convinced me to try sucking the meat of the head part, but I didn’t find it particularly good or bad, so didn’t try it a second time.
Among the dishes was this sesame crusted fish with pepper sauce. I believe it was sea bass. Sesame is one of my favorites and was a perfect complement to the fish.
The following dish was raw fish with tomatoes and arugula, all very, very fresh.
Although it wasn’t local, this poached salmon was beautifully prepared, with strawberries as a nice unconventional garnish.
Fresh, raw tuna with arugula was another of the tasty seafood dishes.
It’s not all about fish
We were also served healthy portions of bread with fresh tomatoes and burrata, a special mozzarella common to Puglia (seen in the assortment photo above). I took only one small bite of bread and cheese to save room, but Sweeney pulled up the slack on these items.
Always room for dessert
After all of this, I amazingly still had room for dessert — fresh fruit and a slushy lemon sorbet.
It was a wonderful day with three of my favorite things — a beautiful beach, fresh seafood, and Sweeney — not necessarily in that order.
This is just an introduction to our Puglia experience, made possible by Puglia Promozione. There’s more to come about this region’s memorable food, people, places and events.