Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dinner Parties

There have been alot of dinner party menus flying around blog land lately and it got me thinking about how much I miss the dinner parties we used to have back in NZ where we could be creative with food.

I find in Italy when I am entertaining Domenico's family and friends (mainly from Napoli) it is not quite the same and I don't get the same satisfaction. They are stuck in such a rut where the concept of food is concerned and they can't see beyond their way of cooking.
Don't get me wrong I have alot of respect for the traditional recipes that have been passed down through generations, but it isn't the 'be all and end all' when it comes to food and I wish some of the Italian buddies would see this, perhaps it is more of a Southern Italian mentality. I get so frustrated when I am told that you can't put this with that and that a certain food can only be cooked a certain way! What happened to a bit of fantasy.

For me food is like art, a chance to play around with flavours etc, you wouldn't give an artist a plain canvas and paints and expect the same picture time and time again, the same applies to food.

Anyway enough ranting, it doesn't stop me from cooking the way I want to cook even if the finnochio does gets picked out of the arugala salad or I am told that you can't put apple sauce with roast pork.......

Our last guests were treated to the following, on this occasion I did Italianise a bit.

Marinated Alici
After they were gutted and beheaded and before they were dressed with White Wine Vinegar, Lemon, Garlic,Olive Oil and Parsley

Unfortunately I forgot to take a pic of the final dish before they were woofed down.

Followed by :
Roast Pork with Apple and Sage Sauce, and Caramalised Onions
Braised Leeks wrapped in Proscuitto (before)Barbecue Grilled veges tossed with Balsamico, Olive Oil and Basilico
I usually cheat when it come to dessert and pop down to the Pasticceria for some mini pastries and cakes, though ocasionally I make a Lemon Tiramisu with a full bottle of Limoncello, its lethal!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Puglia in a hurry!

We have just arrrived back from a whirlwind visit of amazing Puglia.
Domenico decided that due to the unreliability of the courier company he was using that he would personally deliver the barbeques that were ordered at the Bari Homeshow himself.
We piled the barbeques into the truck and off we set for a weekend on the road.
Puglia is a beautiful part of Italy, unlike the other regions it is set apart with its mix of Arabic, Greek and Baroque architecture, a totally different Italy.

Unfortunately due to our lack of time we had to whizz around, passing through countryside made up of mile after mile of olive groves.
We have decided to take another trip to really absorb the region and to take more photos when we have more time.

Olive Groves

The Pugliese are truly lovely people, everybody we came across was very friendly and helpful. Their generosity really showed through when we did our final delivery in Metaponto, near Taranto. We asked the guy Andrea if he knew of an agriturismo in the area. Unfortunately there was a shortage of accomodation, though he insisted that we stay at his friend Aldo's holiday apartment for the night as it wasn't being used.

He then took us and Aldo to a restaurant in the town, where the food was absolutely amazing.
We started with marinated anchovies, octopus salad and tiny frittered pesce, this was then followed by fresh homemade pasta with the most succulent vongole, and mussels. They were smaller than usual though much tastier.
Puglia is famous for its fresh seafood in fact most is eaten raw, I was suprised to see plates of raw sepia (squid) being eaten.

We were so full after the pasta that there wasn't any room for a Secondo, though they insisted on fruit and dessert followed by homemade Meloncello liquer. This was similar to Limoncello though a bit thicker.
Fresh Pasta with Vongole e Cozze

When we finished our meal our new friends refused to let us pay for accomodation or the restaurant meal and the next day before we headed back home they came by with a large crate of grapes from their vineyard, and tubs of olives and mandarins.
Such generosity. I am definetely looking forward to our next trip.