ORECCHIETTE WITH BROCCOLI RAAB
You can see nimble-fingered ladies making and drying orecchiette or "little ears" of pasta in the labrynthine back streets of the old town of Bari Vecchia. Traditionally cooked with broccoli raab, known as cima di rape or turnip tops. Simple yet sensational.
DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) BREAD FROM THE TOWN OF ALTAMURA
Only six bakeries are allowed to make this bread from semolina, warm water, salt and a mother yeast produced from a vegetable enzyme. Every step of the process is proscribed (as it is a protected product) and the bread may only be sold in Italy. It is crunchy on the outside, soft inside yet with great mouth feel and flavour. It oozes history. See panificiolamaggiore.it
RICCI OR SEA URCHINS
In the ricci season from the end of March to May and then the end of August to the end of September , La Rotonda da Rosa perched on the water's edge near Savelletri di Fasano is crowded with multi-generational families feasting on only ricci, olives, bread, white wine and water.
(Strada litoranea per Savelletri, Savelletri, Brindisi)
These prosciutto-wrapped or crumbed morsels of thinly sliced pork surrounding melted caciocavallo cheese are sold at butchers and also as street food. But many butchers will cook them too, or are part of a restaurant where your choice is weighed out as in a shop, then cooked and brought, wrapped to your table to release a tantalising aroma. Try Braceria da Matteo in Triggianello.
(Via Donato Forlani 6, Triggianello)
Seductive with an oozing centre, burrata is made from only cow's milk, salt and hot water, the curd is flattened, then filled with grated straciatella (shredded mozzarella) and cream then formed back into a ball and tied. You can watch a demonstration at casefici (cheese shops) throughout Puglia such as Caseficio Crovace Oronzo in Fasano.
(Via Lecce 38, Fasano)
The signature biscuits of the region are small and circular, made from the prolific grain from Puglia, boiled and then baked to crispness. They can be flavoured with fennel, black pepper, salt or olive oil and are sold in delis and served with drinks in every bar.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Is used for all forms of cooking. Puglia is the major olive oil producing region in Italy. Trees have been carbon dated to be up to 2000 years old and still producing. Masseria Brancati near Ostuni is a living museum where 800 of the 1000 trees are recognised by UNESCO as "monumental" and not only individually numbered but tracked by satellite to prevent theft. See masseriabrancati.it
Lyndey Milan, food and wine author, radio and TV presenter is hosting a tour to Puglia in early May 2018. See southernvisionstravel.com