Day three of the food lovers' tour began and ended with much swooning, and it wasn't only for the food but also for the many masters in the kitchen we met - pastry chefs, Italian mammas and chef/restauranteurs. Yes, this is a food & wine lovers' tour, but we also soaked up a little bit of culture during the day. We had a guided walk through the baroque historical center of Lecce and a carta pesta (paper-mache) demonstration.
Pastry Making with Chef Luca Capilungo ~
I think all the ladies, and maybe even Dell, were head-over-hells with our Leccese pastry lesson of pasticiotto and fruttone with the very handsome and charismatic chef Luca Capilungo. He took us into his pastry kitchen where we were again behind the scenes and making the typical pastry of Lecce, pasticciotto. Everyone made a batch, and whenever one of us needed a little help with technique, Luca was quick to take our hands and show us the proper way to work the dough or pipe the lemony pastry cream into the molds.
Luca also gave us a demonstration on making fruttone, another typical pastry of Puglia. It starts out with pasta frolla (short crust pastry) in a mold, just like the pasticcioto. Instead of pastry cream, the pastry is filled with pear marmalata and marzipan, baked and then topped with a chocolate icing. We sampled the finished fruttone and many other of his delicious cookies. He even brought out a sweet wine to dip our quaresimali ("Lenten" biscotti) into. As if the group didn't already adore chef Luca and his pastries, he made many of us happy by posing for a photo with each person in the group. We took the pasticiotti we made with us, and it was dessert after our evening meal.
A Tour of Lecce and a Carta Pesta Lesson ~
Taking a break in between pastries and lunch, we took a giro around Lecce in an antique car - 1935 to be exact. Afterwards we had a guided-walking tour of Lecce where we learned a little about the cities history and its baroque-style facades.
The tour ended with a carta pesta demonstration where the group learned all about how the paper-making technique arrived in Italy, how paper is made, and how the carta pesta figurines of Lecce are crafted. Some of the group also got to make a few sheets of paper themselves.
Lunch with Antonella at Locanda Rivoli ~
Lunch was in Lecce at the very delicious Locanda Rivoli where Antonella greeted all of us with a big smile and countless plates of antipasti. Although we were quite satisfied with the never-ending plates of antipasti, we couldn't leave without having a pasta course, or two. We delighted in the traditional dish of ceci & tria (chickpeas and pasta) with a twist. Antonella adds mussels to the dish. Our other pasta was sagne ncannulate (the pasta that I made with Nonna Vata) in a sauce of fresh tomatoes & ricotta forte. The ricotta forte added a nice tang to the sweet tomato sauce. The meal ended with little cookies shaped in the form of wrapped candies and filled with marmalata. And if we weren't already in love with Antonella and her food, she also gave each of us a gift of olive oil and autographed her recipe that we found in the Puglia recipe book each of us had purchased.
Some of the too-many-to-count plates of antipasti included: tiella, friselle, peperonata, ricotta mouse, spinach & ricotta focaccia, focaccia di patate, grilled eggplant, fagioli in tomato sauce, carpaccio of zucchini
Cooking with Mamma Giulia ~
In the kitchen with Mamma Giulia (photo courtesy of Ylenia)
After only a few days, everyone realized that food never really stops coming on this tour. We had a short break to rest or sit poolside at the masseria, and then we were back in the kitchen for our first hands-on cooking lesson with mamma Giulia who is a quite a wizard in the kitchen. Now, the menu was supposed to be three plates: Pomordori Schiattariciati for the antipasto, penne with a cream of bell pepper sauce for the primo, and involtini (rolls) of eggplant for the secondo. Instead we learned a favorite phrase of mamma Giulia's, "Non buttiamo niente." (We don't throw anything away.) With leftover ingredients and those that others might think of as scraps, she made three other dishes. Take a look at our meal:
If you'd like to see more photos from this tour, you can view them on the Food Lover's Odyssey Facebook page.
Join us in Puglia in 2013! We'll be cooking with our beautiful Italian mamme and professional chefs, and we'll also be eating and exploring our way through the region. There are four tour dates available from which to choose! For more information check out this page: Food Lover's Culinary Tour in Puglia
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