Temperatures have been reaching 30 deg+ over the past couple of days, interspersed with the odd thunderstorm which clears the air nicely!
Following the cookery lesson today I had a couple of treats in store. Ostuni Oleificio Cooperative is an Olive Oil producing co-operative based in Ostuni, and was the 1st stop on our early evening agenda. The co-operative was formed on 11th June 1959 and consisted of 20 members. Today that number has increased to 400 members cultivating 3800 hectares of land and producing 40,000 ‘quintals’ of olives a year of which 6,500 is olive oil, 5,000 is extra virgin and 800 is DOP (Protected Denomination of Origin). The have trees in they co-operative that are over 1,500 years old!
Veronica, my superb guide and interpreter had arranged a tasting once we finished the tour and it was interesting the process of tasting olive oil. We were informed that the tip of the tongue picks up the sweet notes, the sides of the mouth, the floury notes and the back of the throat, the spice. Using a similar method to wine tasting, sucking the oil into your mouth with a load of air, you really did get the three sensations in a much more intense way, of the four we testing particular hit the back of the throat with an intense pepperyness, WOW!
Following the Olive Oil factory we continued to the old part of Ostuni and as the sun was low in the sky, the buildings took on an immense deep orange colour which was really beautiful.
Highlights included the statue dedicated to St. Oronzo. a baroque column made out of solid limestone in 1771 by an architect called Giuseppe Greco the La Cattedrale (Cathedral), and the still remaining walls of the town built in 1350.
Ostuni is a magical place steeped in history, if you get the chance please come and visit, the best time is definitely late in the evening when the sun is softer and a more intense orange (its also cooler)!
Dinner this evening was by the sea in Savelletri which is not far from Fasano, at La Taverna D’umberto. I thought i was getting used to the considerable marathon that is eating Italian meals but i was proved wrong. The anti pasti consisted of the following;
- Insalata Di Mari
- Insalati Di Polpo
- Carpaccio Di Melanzana
- Cozze Ripiene
- Alici Marinate
Phew! My good friend Angelo, who had taken me to the restaurant suggested a fish based pasta dish for a main course but after all that I had eaten that day, we shared a ‘Fritto Misto’ of various fish, squid, prawns etc.
One of the anti pasti was so seriously tasty we went to ask the chef how is was prepared. The ‘Carpaccio Di Melanzana’ is a simple dish made of aubergine, cured like a ceviche. Prepare a mixtures of 75% Vinegar to 25% Olive Oil and some salt. Remove the skin of the Aubergine, slice as thin as you can on a mandolin, and quickly place in the curing liquid for 20 sec’s on one side, and then 20 sec’s on the other. Remove from the liquid and place on a place with some fresh mint. To serve place on a plate with a drizzle of olive oil, but leave the mint.
Tomorrow morning I am of to a cheese factory which I m really looking forward too, and then a walk around the historic center of Fasano.
Thanks Angelo and my ‘hippy chick’ guide Veronica for a fantastic day once again.