Remarkable Places to Eat - Puglia - Channel 4

Fred Sirieix is joined by top foodies and chefs who are revealing their favourite spots around the world to eat in Channel 4’s Remarkable Places to Eat.  Joining the people behind the scenes, it is an experience that won’t be forgotten. This week Fred was joined by TV and radio presenter Dermot O’Leary as they headed to Italy’s deep south into the region of PUGLIA! Forming the heel of Italy, Puglia is fast becoming one of Europe’s most talked about food destinations.  

Follow along as Dermot treats Fred to some of his favourite restaurants in Puglia, uncovering the concept of cucina povera (poor man’s cooking), sampling some sensational seafood, pasta cooked to perfection and the joy of Italian dining.  

If you missed it, you can watch the series now on Channel 4.

a man standing in front of a building 

 

“I fell in love with the place. It’s the sense of authenticity, it’s the seafood and the pace of life – it’s my happy place.” 

Dermot O’Leary, Remarkable Places to Eat on Channel 4 

Restaurant 1: Il Bastione

After crossing the mesmerising Taranto Bay by boat, Dermot and Fred arrive in Gallipoli, a fishing port that dates back over 3,000 years. One of Puglia’s culinary capitals, it is a real jewel showcasing the fishing and seafood that dominates the area. The fish market here is always bustling first thing in the morning as the locals come to get the catch of the day. 

Dermot takes Fred to his favourite restaurant, Il Bastione which showcases the historic food culture that has been firmly rooted in the peasant tradition, cucina povera. The food doesn’t cost a lot of money, but the taste is perfection. Il Bastione enjoys the most beautiful views from its position high up on the old city walls.  

This family run restaurant has been owned by the Quintana family for nearly 30 years earning its reputation for having some of the freshest seafood in Gallipoli with local prawns, urchins and crudo taking pride of place on the menu. Fred and Dermot enjoyed a raw seafood platter for starters which include langoustines, prawns, mussels, sea urchins and local delicacies. The prawns are famous here for their red colour and intense flavour that just melts in your mouth with an almost sweet taste. The urchins also have a really powerful, intense flavour and as much as it is strong, it is delicate at the same time.  

For their main course, the duo enjoyed the fruits of the sea, zuppa di pesce (fish soup) with a side of gamberoni rossi di Gallipoli sotto sale, the famous red prawns baked in salt. The diversity of the fish is cooked to perfection and full of flavour – heaven on earth! In the past, fishermen would add stones from the sea to add flavour to the soup if they didn’t have enough fish. Adding the water from the sea is so unique as the salty water and the freshwater combine to make a different flavour and that is the secret of Gallipoli.   

Where to stay?

Enjoy a stay in Lecce with our handpicked hotels below: 
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Risorgimento Resort, Lecce
  • Located in the centre of the historic town of Lecce
  • An elegant hotel with luxurious accommodation and contemporary design

Restaurant 2: Masseria Le Stanzie

The next stop for the pair was Masseria Le Stanzie in rural Puglia to taste the cuisine of the land with a traditional Puglian dish showcasing a different side to the food of this area. Just 20km from the coast, the landscape changed completely as they arrived at the 600-year-old fortified farmhouse that remains a working farm today and is home to Le Stanzie Restaurant, famous for its cucina povera. Every effort has been made to preserve the history of this farmhouse and stepping through the door is like stepping back in time.  

The farm grows much of the food they serve in the restaurant and keeping with Puglian tradition, they work the land with their hands like they did in the past with nothing treated with chemicals. A real symbol of Puglia’s rustic cucina povera is turnip tops, le cime di rapa. The farmers collect the most tender leaves, and the harvest is done with such care and precision.   

Puglia’s most iconic dish is orecchiette con le cime di rapa and you can buy the pasta anywhere today, but it actually originated in the 13th century in Puglia and is still shaped by hand at Le Stanzie by combining just two ingredients – water and flour. 

The people of Puglia have been growing vegetables and making pasta by hand for years, keeping traditions alive. They are firm believers that not everything that’s good in the world is new.  

To make this iconic dish, the cime di rapa is blanched with a pinch of chilli flakes, oil, and a few scoops of pasta water to create a sauce. It is then topped off with a sprinkling of well-seasoned breadcrumbs toasted with garlic and olive oil. After all, Puglia is the largest producer of olive oil in Italy!  

Orecchiette con le cime di rapa is a dish synonymous with cucina povera containing locally grown ingredients that have been lovingly and respectfully transformed into a meal that has sustained the people of Puglia for centuries.  

Where to stay?

Enjoy a stay in Otranto with our handpicked hotels below: 
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Tenuta Centoporte, Otranto
  • The best of both worlds with countryside and lively towns on the doorstep
  • Located in the heart of Puglia
  • Beautiful rooms with private gardens and modern amenities
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Baglioni Masseria Muzza, Otranto
  • Beautiful natural stone walls and decor
  • In the heart of the Salento countryside
  • Enjoy the tastes of Puglia at the three onsite restaurants

Restaurant 3: Gustavo's

The last stop on their culinary tour of Puglia was Gustavo’s located on the outskirts of Galatone. Opened in 2004, this restaurant offers creative Puglian cuisine and is real destination for those in the know. Combining food and hospitality, Fred and Dermot were treated to a coccolare – a big hug with food. There’s no set menu at Gustavo’s and guests eat whatever Gigi, the owner, cooks on the day starting with antipasti. It feels like the ultimate Italian dinner party, but in a restaurant. It is open seven days a week for dinner and lunch on Sundays. 

The philosophy here is to use products located around the restaurant to really promote zero-kilometre cooking. Offering a personal experience, everyone feels like a treasured guest and is treated as part of the family.  

Fred and Dermot started their feast off with pecorino salentino con mostarda al mandarino, a pecorino cheese with a homemade orange relish, verdure di campagna crude pugliese, a vibrant zero-kilometre salad, and crostoni salentini, stracciatella capocollo and sundried tomato crostoni. 

For the second course, the pair enjoyed risotto di forma di caciocavallo, a rich risotto served in a rind of local cheese topped off with toasted hazelnuts and rosemary.  

For their main course, the duo were treated to a bowl of comfort food, tagliata di lonzetta – a loin of pork with mash and roast potatoes paired with seasonal vegetables. For dessert, they enjoyed the classic Italian dish of Tiramisu.  

 

All recommendations made in this article are by Channel 4. 

To start planning your holiday to Puglia, give our Italy Experts a call today on

Destinations in Puglia

 
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