Friday we boarded a plane bound for Bari and just forty-five minutes later we were driving across the southeast side of the “boot” surrounded by olive groves and almond trees. We arrived too early to check-in to the hotel which was located in the heart of the town just off the main piazza, Piazza del Popolo. Our room was not ready so we headed out for a walk through the small village filled with Trulli. These dwellings date back to the early 17th century and are a fascinating attraction in this area of Puglia. Remarkably, many are still inhabited today. We were able to visit one occupied by a family graciously excepting visitors.
After a bit of wandering through the winding roads looking at all the different features of these dwellings we headed back to the main piazza for lunch. We settled on Miseriaenobilta, a restaurant serving typical dishes from this region. We started with a calamari stuffed with ricotta and herbs and a delicious octopus salad on a warm bed of potatoes.
For our second dish (yes we ordered too much food but…) we ordered Orecchiette with sausage and zucchini and Strascicate with shrimp and scallops. Both pastas, which mean “little ears” because of their shape, were very good. I really preferred the Orecchiette with sausage and zucchini. The sauce on the Orecchiette was extremely light and tangy which paired nicely with the earthy flavors of the sausage. It was not over dressed with too much sauce or sausage. Mine on the other hand was a little heavy but super fresh. One note worth mentioning is that my pasta with seafood also had toasted walnuts in the mix which was unexpected but quite nice; adding an interesting texture to the dish. There are an abundance of walnuts in this region so it makes sense that they have found their way into all types of dishes including ones with seafood. We drank Punga Rosa, Cantina Rivera, a rose from the region, which went perfectly with both dishes.
After lunch we headed across the piazza to our hotel and checked in for a brief but badly needed afternoon nap. We were up just in time to catch the Territory Museum which is located in a group of connected Trulli. This museum covers the history of the town and some small exhibits of artifacts and photographs related to the area. After the museum and a little more strolling we were ready to call it quits and head for a glass of wine or two. Our dinner reservation was not until eight o’clock so we had some time to relax and get ready to go out once again.
Dinner was at a small restaurant, Favola in Tavola, situated on one of the main streets which divides the town between a tourist zone and a residential zone; both still populated with Trulli. We arrived a little early and were greeted by our hostess who was also our waitress. She seated us in a small intimate alcove with a fireplace all made of the local stone which resembles limestone. This was the perfect spot to unwind after a long day of travel. We both started with a smooth cabbage soup dotted with mussels and covered in a shroud of shredded celery and arugula. Both of us agreed this was really delicious. I will be sharing my verison of this dish shortly. Again, it is really simple ingredients but combined with care and attention to each one.
We then ordered sea bass studded with herbs over roasted beets and and a seared tuna with a chopped celery and herb mix. The tuna was the most successful of the two dishes. The sea bass was overpowered by the beets. We also both agreed that the two flavors, fish and beets, were not particularly great together. My dish was well executed in both flavor and preparation; not too rare and not too done.
We shared a bottle of “Il Selva”, Cantine Albea. This, is a local dry white comprised of Bianco Verdeca, Bianco D’ Alessano and Faino varieties paired nicely with both dishes.
Our meal at Favola in Tavola was a nice ending to a day of adventure and sites. We returned to the hotel and started planning our next stop in this beautiful region of Italy.