Martina Franca & Degustazione – Day 3 at Masseria Montenapoleone

One of the Quirky Furniture Pieces at the Masseria!

I’ve just finished breakfast and in anticipation of my next cookery lesson later today. Breakfast at the Masseria is always a delight, lots of fresh fruit from the farm, croissants etc. Along with the above, a beautiful slice of delicate apple cake was had this morning, and a thin blackcurrant tart, all home made and washed down with fresh orange juice and tea with lemon.

Yesterday was day three of the trip and included a visit to Martina Franca the second most populated town in the province of Taranto, in Puglia. There is some amazing Baroque architecture in Martina Franca, and my ‘hippy chick’ guide Veronica did a great job explaining the importance and relevance of various building and how the town was fortified on a hilltop.

The Entrance to the Old Town Of  Martina Franca
Whilst in Martina Franca I wanted to see the market, which was open today. I am always fascinated by quality of the fruit and vegetables that we seldom see in the UK. When you can buy a Kilo of Beetroot for 0.75 Euro (YES, 75 Euro Cents, which is about 63 pence !!), it makes me want to shout expletives!
Produce you can only dream of!
          
We need this in the UK!
After a light lunch (by Italian standards!), we headed back the Masseria as tonight was the Degustazione, a showcase meal for all the guests, using much of the produce of the farm and we were in for a real treat.
My ‘driver’ interpreter Angelo is a really fantastic guy who I now regard as a great friend. I am the only person doing the cookery course this week as it’s early season and he has gone out of his way to make sure I have a fantastic time, being around in the evenings to make sure I have company as the other guests at the Masseria this week are from Germany and Belgium and may not have spoken English.
I was offered a pre-dinner cocktail, which was accompanied by some nibbles. I have mentioned the massive Capers and Taralli before which are very typical of this region.
The fun started at around 8:30 when  glasses of prosecco where handed out by Giuliano and his fantastic team. there was a table of aperitvo (or h’orderves) such as Focaccia with sun dried tomato enriched with lot of olive oil, Olives, Capers, different types or Taralli, breads enriched with Speck and Ham, Cherry Tomato and home made Mozzarella on sticks. This had all been home made that day by the fantastic cooks at the Masseria.  I recall a comment on Tripadvisor  when I was looking into the Masseria, that one guest didn’t get past this course and I now know why!
We then sat at our tables and more Anti-Pasti arrived, Meats, beautiful Fava bean paste which I had not tried before but will now look out for it as it was beautiful, sliced stuffed Aubergine………The quantity and quality of food was just out of this world and kept coming.
The wine was free flowing, Giuliano make sure everyone’s glass is always topped up!
We then got to the next course, a beautiful risotto which was perfectly cooked and utterly delicious, you can see a theme here I hope!
The Beautiful Risotto….

There were only three more courses to go at this stage and the mention of a marathon bought laughter in the room.

I was sat next to a German couple who had just arrived and as their English was very good (compared to my German which could be described as ropey), we were able to have some really good conversation as the food flowed. The communial nature of the Masseria enables you to interact with people from other countries in a way that would not happen on a typical holiday, which I really enjoy. There was another group from Belgium which I joined later after the food had come to a halt.

The next course had been cooking since 2 o’clock that afternoon and was sublime, braised Veal cheeks, served with some simple roasted potato and a Soffritto (onion, celery and carrot). The meat was very tender and delicate, and the portion size was just right (after the previous courses I was about to burst!). The sauce was a reduced Primitivo red wine, typical of Puglia.

Braised Veal Cheeks…….Delicious

Dessert was a beautiful cake similar to the one I made earlier in the week and lots of fresh fruit, Oh, and the ubiquitous Grappa or Limoncello to finish things of.

We started at 8:30 and finished at about 12:30, the perfect end to another beautiful day at Masseria Montenapoleone

Viva Italia….
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