The second day of our trip to Puglia was focus on the discovery of the favourite local producers of one chef. We were divided in 3 groups: one going to the north of Puglia, one in the south and us in the Itria Valley.
Leading our tour were Chef Stefano D’Onghia from the A’Cr’Janz restaurant in Putignano and the author of the restaurant guide, M. Francesco Biasi. We had 5 producers to visit in a day plus the visit to the restaurant where the chef would cook us a traditional dish. You cannot imagine a better day! We visited:
- A cheese maker (mozzarella)
- An organic vegetable garden
- An organic winery
- An olive oil fabric
- A butcher that will show us how to prepare the capocollo (pork cured meat)
First stop was to a cheese maker in order to show us how to prepare the mozzarella. The process seems quite simple but the practice is different.
- The mozzarella is prepared from milk that has been placed with a mozzarella from the previous day during a few hours called innesto (meaning cutting like the branch you cut to create a second tree).
- They bring the milk temperature to 36ºC.
- They add hot water (90ºC) and stretch the cheese.
- They shape it though a machine.
- Finally they put the mozzarella in water with ice to harden the cheese.
The mozzarella can be presented in 3 shapes: the typical bowl that we all know, a braid (called treccia) or a knot. In all the visit and meal we had during our trip the mozzarella was presented in small knot as presented in the video and the next picture.
Eating the fresh mozzarella still warm from the cheese maker, what an absolute delicious thing. It’s creamy, warm and soft. I can still fill it in my mouth! (As you can understand it is an experience I particularly recommend! 😉 )
We discovered another very famous cheese called Caciocavallo which name comes from its shape: 2 cheese balls hanged by a rope to the ceiling. It represents the legs of the cavalier around the horse. This cheese is produced from “podolica” race milk cow. A particular cow race that is bred like sheep eating aromatic plants that give the special taste of the cheese. This cheese is very tasty and its texture is similar to Gouda for instance.
The second stop was the vegetable garden. 2 brothers own this garden. They have created it last year because of the economical crisis (I assume they lost their job because of the economical situation). They produce the necessary vegetables for different restaurant of the area. We were lucky enough to see: turnips, aubergines, chilies and more…
Apparently, 90% of the Apulian soil is cultivated for food growing purpose. It should make the region one of the biggest gardens of Italy.
Keep reading the blog! The next articles will tell you all about the wine, olive oil, capocollo and the delicious dish that Chef D’Onghia has prepared us!