Pure as water falling from a mountain, pure as home-made wine, pure as the love of a mother, pure as the food I will find in my homeland of Puglia. That’s right, food in those parts of Italy is not corrupted, it is natural, produced locally, zero distance, not handled by too many hands, not manipulated, nor injected with hormones, antibiotics, silicon, sprayed with chemicals or washed with bleach.
This is an area where people still eat homemade bread and pasta, animals live free, eat good grass and are happy; this is where fish taste like the sea, ice cream contains real fruit flavors and various natural ingredients, but most of all, it is a place where family still eat Sunday meal together.
I took a group of Americans at Novecento Restaurant in Bitetto to enjoy food they will remember for a life. Chef and owner Rocco Violante could not have been more hospitable and gracious. He is the creator of simple local food presented with such elegance to give his plates the appearance of magazine food. Eating Rocco Violante’s food is a pure burst of flavors, a feast in the mouth, a real return to pure simplicity that deserves a 7 stars, even though they don’t exist. At restaurant Novecento (the name takes after the year it was built in 1900) the traditional Puglia cuisine is revised with creativity and married to a family atmosphere environment.
This is art in cooking while breaking the rules in making new combinations of flavors.
The whole evening was one surprise after another. On each table there was a crochet bread basket. We started with a focaccia and homemade bread olive oil dipping accompanied with a chilled La Cerina white wine. Followed a mash of fava beans with field chicory and baked cherry tomatoes enclosed in a shaving of toasted bread crust. The homemade pasta that followed was made with burned wheat. You must know that in Puglia farmers collected burned wheat after completion of the harvest, then the ground was burned to regenerate the soil. With that burned wheat they produced home-made pasta. At Novecento that evening we went back in time. Savoring burned wheat orecchiette pasta with shrimps was a pure expression of an ancient land.
The waiter poured a renowned Puglia red wine with mastery of elegance. It was Nero di Troia and accompanied the rest of our dinner: a taste of eggplant parmigiana, then cod-fish fillet on a bed of spinach and cherry tomato. Dinner came to an end with a fruit dessert served on a black slate stone, bubbles and coffee. The experience was a pure pleasure, an act of love from Rocco Violante.
I hope you get to experience traveling to Puglia with me. Check out her next trip coming up Sept.1-12, 2016 – https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-2
Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
As a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, my native land, it is my intention to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. I want to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism and through stories of art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, I want them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia! Check out my books on