Locorotondo, el peyote and more cooking – Day 5 at Masseria Montenapoleone

The philosophy behind Giuliano and the Masseria Montenapoleone is to use everything and waste nothing.

Whilst I was waiting for Veronica yesterday afternoon, who was taking me ‘on tour’ again, Giuliano passed by and beckoned me to join him to show some of the inner workings of the Masseria.

Alessandro was in the ‘Atelier’ or workshop and produces some amazing work that can be seen inside and outside the Masseria. See if you can guess what the two lamps below started life as?

Veronica had arranged to pick me up to show me more of the sites of Puglia, and an added bonus of a surprise wine tasting too!
We drove back to Alberobello to visit the most important Trullo, the only one that had two floors. Its a UNESCO listed building and apparently has probably the 1st mortar based staircase.
Trullo Sovrano – Alberobello
We also visited the historic center, I may have mentioned Veronica is also the lead singer of a band, an everyone seemed to know her as we traveled around which was quite amusing as I kept on winding her up about being a pop star!
Touring complete it was of to meet Angelo for dinner, tonight we were going to one of the best pizza houses in town and we were not disappointed.Very thin, very crispy and only to be eaten by hand!
We finished the night at Angelo’s ‘club’ Doppio Passe, the Fasano (town we were in) hand ball team had lost their match tonight and had not enough points to remain in the league so spirits were lightly muted, which did not prevent everyone from having a good time anyway.
This morning I was up earlier that usual, before my next cookery lesson, Angelo was taking me to the fruit and veg wholesale market as he had to pick up produce for his own restaurant. The selection available was the best I have seen with massive peppers, chicory (not the sort we see in the u.k.), globe cucumbers and a whole host of other ingredients was an eye to behold. This is not on the normal cooking school itinery but a special treat for me, thanks again Angelo.
So back to the Masseria for the next cooking lesson.  Anna-Rita was going to show me how to cook;
  • Polpette Di Carne
  • A traditional Stock for Risotto
  • Artichoke Risotto
  • A traditional Tomato sauce
  • Torta Della Nonna
Polpette are small meat balls made of Veal mince, we prepared two versions, one in breadcrumbs and one without, which was served with the traditional tomato sauce. I have tried to make Risotto once or twice and not been pleased with the result. Anna-Rita took me through the stages and I now know where I went wrong, Thanks Anna-Rita.
Mixing the Polpette Ingredients under the careful eye of Anna-Rita 
Torta Della Nonna, or grand mothers cake, was another triumph.  It used slightly different ingredients for the pastry, and was one of the desserts we had at the Degustazione tasting meal the other evening.
Frying the Polpette on the Professional Cooking Range

The Risotto was made with parboiled Risotto rice, and took between 15 – 20 minutes to cook. What surprised me was the high temperature that was used to cook the rice, and the amount of time the onion/rice and artichoke mixture was cooked in oil/butter before the first ladle of stock was added.  That first stage is critical to ensure that rice does not absorb moisture too quickly and produces an ‘Al Dente’ or ‘to the bite’ firmness in the centre.

Dinner is Served
All the desserts so far have been variations on a theme, adjusting the ingredients slightly to produce subtly different textures and flavours, Torta Della Nonna was no exceptions and was a fantastic end to a utterly delicious lunch.
Here’s to this evenings trip to Olificio and Ostuni, with dinner at a fish restaurant on the coast.

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