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Truffles in Puglia

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Amazingly, Puglia, deep in the heel of Italy, is relatively unknown. For ten years travel writers have been calling it "the new Tuscany", but it's fame is still somewhat muted. Those that do know it may know the trulli, the funny cone shaped roofs, the olive oil, the Primitivo wine. Maybe even orecchiette, little ear-shaped pasta.

But very very few will know that Puglia also produces truffles.

There's ntruffle huntingot too much that I can share with you on this post, as I was sworn to secrecy on much of what I learnt during my meeting with The Truffle Hunter last week. But I can say that there are truffles down here. And lots of them. … view more »

Trullo Solari Holidays

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

I admit it. It's hard not too. The holidays that we run at Trullo Solari - in addition to the self-catering holidays - are all directly based on what I'd like to do. There, I've said it.

The first individual holidays that we offered were yoga holidays. "Yay, I can do yoga every day!".... "no, you can run yourself ragged catering for lovely yogis after their relaxing sessions :)"

Undeterred, we dreamt up Gourmet Puglia. Stemming from our desire to share the best culinary experiences that Puglia has to offer, we put together our dream itinerary for the Gourmet Puglia Tour. Picking weeds with farmers who know their dandelion from their thistle, hunting for truffles (with… view more »

Tideswell School of Food

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

It seems another world; I was working a short term contract in Derby last winter and the highlight of my week was an evening cookery course. About filleting fish. I left the office as early as I could, given the journey ahead and the forecast snow. The address was plugged into the sat nav, and there were various routes, given that I was heading into deepest Derbyshire. Tideswell is a pretty village in pretty countryside that had me peering in awe from the car, through the dark and the snow. A call to the receptionist at the Tideswell School of Food reassured me about the journey, and not to worry about my impending… view more »

Olive Oil Tasting

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Last week we enjoyed one of the most informative and intriguing afternoons to be had here in Puglia. A brief history and biology lesson of the olive tree, followed by a tasting and palate education at the beautiful Masseria Brancati. Corrado, the warm and entertaining owner, guided us around the masseria, the 3000 year old olive trees, the centuries old olive mill and finally, patiently, tested and teased our sense of smell and taste with good and bad olive oil.

Most of us have heard that much of the olive oil industry is corrupt, that bad oil is sold as good oil, industrial standard oil is cut with a little extra virgin and sold as the real thing. … view more »

Kitchen Skills Holiday

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

We are so excited to finalise the details of our Kitchen Skills holiday. The wonderful chef Joe Hunt will join us from the UK to lead classes with hands on opportunities to practise and improve your kitchen skills such as knife skills, butchery, fish preparation, and bread, pasta and cheese making.

I first met Joe on a Fillet-a-Fish course at the fantastic Tideswell School of Food in Derbyshire. He's entertaining, knowledgeable, patient and passionate about good, local food. I was delighted when he agreed to come and join us. As well as the hands on sessions we'll explore some of the best that Puglia has to offer. And Puglia is famous for it's food… view more »

Wild Asparagus

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

With the spring blossom comes the promise of almonds, cherries and other soft fruits later in the year, and the increasing warmth turns our minds to planting seeds and seedlings for the feast of tomatoes, peppers and aubergines in summer. Our anticipation is rewarded by the sight of our first foraging opportunities - wild asparagus. It can be hard to find. A spikey, fondy plant grows usually sheltered by a wall or a tree trunk and the asparagus shoots appear - somewhere within the vicinity. The thin, wavey shoot can easily elude you, but once you get your eye in they are fun to find. Simply feel down the long shoot to the point where… view more »

Mushroom Marathon

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Through half of spring, and all of summer and autumn, my kitchen is generally backlogged with produce waiting to be preserved. Fruit for jam, tomatoes for saucing, veggies for putting sott'olio, the pressure is there to preserve before time ruins them. One of the few good things about winter is that there really isn't much to preserve, and I relish that freedom. Why then do I already seem to be adopting other people's gluts to fill the gap? The other day I stopped at a roadside seller to buy some oranges and he offered me a crate of artichokes. It's one of the few things that K doesn't enjoy, and given the amount of work… view more »

Osteria Gia Sotto L'Arco

Monday, September 17th, 2012

We only popped in to make a reservation for Trullo Solari guests. But we were seduced by the beautifully serene interior and calm, welcoming service so that we decided to stay and eat. Just to check that the quality was up to scratch, you understand. Osteria Gia Sotto L'Arco is indeed a treat, somewhere to reward yourselves - and hey, we've had a busy summer. Greeted by Teodosio, the owner and maitre d', we felt like we were old friends. The grandson of the original owners, he has created a haven of culinary bliss, along with his wife Teresa who runs the kitchen. The restaurant overlooks the main piazza of Carovigno, which is known… view more »

Lessons in cheese-making

Friday, August 31st, 2012

This morning we were guests of one of the fantastic Masseria Didattiche, local farms that offer tours or workshops with the mission to educate and re-connect children and adults alike in how our food is produced. We opted for the cheese-making experience, naturally, given my new source of goat milk. By the time we had sorted our own livestock out and got to the farm, the milking was already done and the "paste" for making mozzerella on the slab ready to go. In a small steamy workshop, two cheeses were in process; curds being separated from whey to make cacioricotta, and mozzerella being stretched into knots, plaits, balls and burrata.

Cacioricotta is a simple cheese, the milk is… view more »

Acquasale, Ostuni

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Of all the restaurants in Ostuni, Acquasale must surely be one of the most beautiful. Built into the white walls of the old town, the garden and terrace are densely planted, creating an oasis from the bedlam of tourists outside. Pretty glass pendants and fabrics are cleverly used to extend the luxurious finish. Inside is twinkly, in an extravagant but tasteful way. The service is equally charming, on a visit last week in the height of the season, the waiters were calm and patient, practising their excellent English, and our table was visited by the owner to make sure everything was to our liking.

And then there's the food. We shied away from the antipasta… view more »

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