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Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

do you notice i was replying to bob's position that perhaps "puglia' was the creation of eng language travel mags, etc., by asking him why then those without access to such might love puglia.
two posts where i cite italian friends suddenly become 'several.' i've lived here 15 years and my friends, my contacts are italians.
italy--the subject of these particular threads--happens to have been created by italians and is still. i assumed that local opinions would be of interest to readers.
quite astonishing really your need to torture logic in order to quibble with alternative positions. (personal opinion here.)
will take this opportunity to resign the email option and discontinue chowhound posting. ciao ciao.

Jul 06, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

barberinibee, see above my posts of june 25, 26, on recent puglia trip. i'd come to this board and few other puglia threads to to make notes before travelling.

when i said 'friends and acquaintances' i assumed readers would assume i was talking about people whose judgement i respect, not man on street. puzzles me you'd think otherwise. i do have friends i consider authorities. and yes obviously they were basing their opinions--and recommendations-- on personal experience.

Jul 05, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Eataly Roma

when in nyc i live within walking (carrying) distance of eataly and use it for certain meats and for fruits and vegetables (i do not like their breads or fresh pasta). we are in nyc in winter when greenmarkets (horribly overpriced anyway) have nothing. eataly has excellent produce, items like red or yellow sun-dried tomatoes, various funghi, at prices well below any place around. trompetti di morte for example. eggplant for $1 lb.
i have never eaten there and never been tempted to.
checkout lines are usually nonexistent.
italians flock there. they need their fix.

Jul 04, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

bob96, i wonder why then tuscan friends and acquaintances (italians, i mean) with no access to american travel mag promotion of 'next tuscany' or 'banners in nyc wine shops, junkets' not to mention english language cookbooks, might adore puglia. and have done for years.

Jul 04, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

so i now see a number of threads on olive oil. quick look at one: info and misinfo. can't possibly read through.

Jun 30, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

thank you. never saw that thread. strongly agree with posters about oil in nyc.

one thing not mentioned: new oil can be frozen.

friends here, janet shapiro and stefano maggazzini of impruneta make stellar tuscan oil, called sagittario. organic. they also give dinners in their home for customers and guests and janet freezes new oil in tiny bottles just so she can give people who've never tasted new oil a sense of the intensity.

Jun 30, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

wouldn't argue. above was merely to make specific point (in an endless discussion should one get into it) and in this 'bland' was shorthand, though i did in the context mean bland to my taste.
last year's tuscan oil in most regions was barely green at all, and if so quickly yellow. agreed, there are many 'yellows' and gold is nicer word. let's hope none of us has to go with 'old black fruit.'
i am not at all saying there is only one standard!
have had excellent oil from many regions--puglia, in this case. oil i had in crete last year was excellent.
tuscany happens to be the area i know well. i know how the best oils are harvested and pressed and in many cases which oils actually are the production of the seller. and i always look for organic oils, harder to come by than you would imagine.
most highend stores in nyc have endless bottles with no harvest dates (only sell by or use-by) at exorbitant prices. (coltibouno one of the worst offenders.
gourmet garage sells a nice oil from chile (i think, it's chile) that i happened to try because representatives were offering tasting. cheap. often on sale as well. chelsea markt's italian store has some good sicilian oils.)
for me, it's often a matter of trying to find a recent-harvest oil in nyc by thanksgiving, or in december, january. very scarce.

Jun 30, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

believe me, i know where to shop in nyc.
and i know the bottomless oil deficiencies of even the best nyc stores and have been noting them for years. you are one of few lucky ones who knows what to look for.

Jun 30, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

erica, thanks for linking to the earlier thread on the slow food guides.
concur with the piedmontese that you'd do best to take them with a grain of salt.

Jun 27, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

One week in Tuscany - dining in Florence, Chianti, Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena, Pienza, Montalcino, Montepulciano...suggestions?

i should add that we live in chianti and almost never eat in restaurants. in firenze or elsewhere when we need to get a bite, we stick to simple stuff. (vini e vecchi sapori used to be a strictly local lunch spot.)

Jun 27, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

One week in Tuscany - dining in Florence, Chianti, Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena, Pienza, Montalcino, Montepulciano...suggestions?

since you seem to be from nyc i suggest you go to Locanda Vini e Olii in clinton hill.
a real tuscan, michele, does the cooking. even bakes the tuscan bread every morning--or did anyway.

Jun 27, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

i hope you don't take my tourism-by-serendipity remarks as critical in any way. i realize you are coming (i think a long way) and have specific culinary goals (just reading between lines). our goals are never primarily around restaurants or even places to stay though we do try to end up happily ensconced. i included description of our seat-of-the-pants? technique as suggestions to prospective tourists who might find it congenial. we have usually found luck and openness to change brings great rewards, though occasionally get stuck or eat a magnum bar.
as a new poster, and probably a very infrequent one since this trip is now behind us, i am bit horrified noticing some ambitious itineraries, or wish lists, of some incoming travelers.

Jun 26, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

nicola fasano, owner of ceramics business mentioned, and a 'personage' shall we say in the region, mentioned that he rates bernalda's coppola restaurant 'best meal in the area.' he had had his daughter's wedding at cardillo.
we almost never reserve ahead, just work things out--hotels, restaurants-- as the time comes. i mean we do call from the car or some place to make sure there are vacancies and get price idea. as i say, prices given this way tend to be lower than guidebook prices.
we barely 'stayed' at cardillo since we arrived about 7 pm, dinner at 8, left immed after early breakfast (nothing special). most stunning feature: huge long vault of the communal space.

Jun 26, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

when in nyc i'm shocked at what passes for olive oil in the stores and most restaurants. we have fresh oil from Saggitario outside Impruneta arriving UPS in early December. Eataly, for just one example, has no new oil until february or so (of course they're sending by boat).
but what's in the best stores, sitting there with no harvest dates, is there because people don't know the difference. this in 'the great foodie city' is bit mind-boggling.

Jun 26, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

we ate at cardillo because we were staying there. it's just off the autoroute we were taking home and woman we'd just met in grottiglie was having a dinner party there for newly weds so she led us there in her car--always an excellent solution to 'finding the place.' no menu, set meal, so may not qualify for your purposes. maybe four antipasti, handmade pasta,secundo and dolci. but it would be different on any given night.
since we'd known nothing of Cardillo before arriving, were interested to find it in guides we were carrying and mentioned this at the desk. desk person said, offhand, that the only 'serious guide' is red michelin (which we were not carrying but cardillo is in). they return often unannounced and anonymously, whereas others never follow up.

Jun 25, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

no, i was merely stating preference, familiarity, and also differences in oils and reasons why they are different. when the heat wave last year turned most tuscan olives black before the raccolta (whereas they are usually partially green) it made for blander oil. ligurian olives for reasons stated above (difficulty of hand harvesting) are harvested later in the year--even early the following year--and the oil will never have the spicy or peppery taste that some people like, others do not like.
if you do not like pepperness, the oil will turn blander as it ages. a really new oil is meant to make you cough, for example. tuscans tend to savor it and use the new oil for fettunta, to pour over risotto, ribollita, etc, and use the previous year's oil for cooking. it is one of my peeves about oils sold in the states that the harvest date is rarely on the label and consumers don't know to require it.

Jun 25, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

one of our best friends here is from chiavari near where he farmed and made olive oil. here he makes wine and oil. he disparages ligurian oil saying that because of the terracing they can't really harvest and have to wait for the olives to drop off the trees onto the nets they have to set up on the terraces. as you know, in tuscany olives are harvested earlier, while still a mix of green and black, harvested by hand and taken to mill on same day (if done right). this makes for the spicier oil. (i'm spelling this out for other readers.) i adore the new extremely piccante oil. this past year however oil was blander because of the heat wave and drought. i found the puglia oil had more character than the past harvest of tuscan oil--though this is not characteristic.

Jun 25, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

An Agriturismo Question (Road Trip from Umbria to Piemonte)

Agreed about Arezzo, one of my favorite Tuscan cities. Kiarostami's Certified Copy takes place in Lucignano, although they drive through the countryside, as i recall, on that drive.

Jun 25, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

One week in Tuscany - dining in Florence, Chianti, Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena, Pienza, Montalcino, Montepulciano...suggestions?

i think Beth Elon's 'A Culinary Traveller in Tuscany' is a an excellent guide. She doesn't do the obvious areas, like chianti, but focusses on small indigenous restaurants along several off beat routes, many very simple, though not all. whenever we've eaten at one of her recommendations we've been delighted. she also focusses on small places of interest, to see, or, with food, to buy specialties. she's lived near prato/pistoia/lucca since the early 70s.
not your usual guidebook. true slow food.

Jun 25, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Agriturismo in Tuscany

Greve is not a hill town. it's a valley market town which surrounded by hills on one of which sits Panzano. should anyone want to visit greve (i happen to live nearby) i recommend agritourismo Antico Borgo di Sugame. no restaurant but kitchens, nicely furnished, spectacular setting on organic wine farm.

Jun 25, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

agreed about staying in cities rather than using masserie as one's base to visit cities. though seeing a lovely masseria like lama di luna is mandatory, imo. (you can visit without staying.) great pleasures on our recent puglia trip was sitting and strolling in vecchia bari on evenings when kids and grandparents were out in piazzas sampling foccacia and gelato.
too bad bari hasn't hotels more accessible to the old city. we stayed at the Palace only for this accessibility and it is a very run-down excuse for a highend hotel, but for our purposes location was all. (fortunately, we were upgraded to a suite due to a nasty lapse in their housekeeping. no, not bedbugs.) true, about foccacia in bari!
daytime vecchia bari did not at all seem dangerous, nor did the night in frequented places. but we're nyc veterans and take precautions automatically.
similarly in lecce: great saturday night crowd-watching and staying in central hotel discovered sunday morning 'open cortile' day with palazzi and studios open to public. particularly fascinating, paper mache workshops where artisans demonstrated and explained.
in lecce found very nice food base in Mamma Elvira, small casual sort of eating/wine bar near our hotel, focussed on regional and organic recipes and products. law prevents them from cooking pasta etc on premises so they make do ingeniously. young owners, opened only one year. liked their rusk/tomato/soft cheese thing--like the greek dakos--forgetting the puglian name, something like frise? great salads. eggplant subtly marinated. many more things. and products of all sorts to buy.
in several bari/ lecce/ etc conversations found no love of nichi vendola--either from the right or left. sorry to hear. old story of discouragement. politicians.

museum in taranto. pottery in grottaglie, nicola fasano esp. who has mounted an exhibition in zurich of old puglia pottery he mostly went up to arezzo to buy! we only saw the catalogue but it looks incredible. arezzo, he says, is no longer a source but we can appreciate all the more what we bought there years ago. driving back towards tuscany had excellent dinner at masseria cardillo in basilicata (bernaldo, commune, not the town).
i should mention that we found most pricing of hotels, masserie, flexible. it was not high-high season, but also italy is suffering from lack of tourists bec of euro crisis, gas prices, etc etc.

Jun 25, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Puglia, Basilicata, Molise "report" May 2012 (really long with more negative than positive impressions)

as a tuscan (most of the year) and partial to tuscan oil (and most definitely not a fan of ligurian oil) i have to say i was pleasantly surprised by the puglian oil we tasted. from pietro zito's down to lecce--at Mamma Elvira's on via Umberto, a small restaurant, wine bar and salad sort of place that sells excellent local organic products--we had superb spicy and fresh oil. and fantastic bread.
interesting that there is more pruning of olives--even ancient ones in some cases-- in the tuscan manner.

Jun 25, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

PUGLIA AND MATERA: A Report

we too stayed at Lama di Luna--just one night in early june 2012. worth visiting for the stunning simplicity of the renovation. did not eat there (pietro zito instead) but wish we'd tried it since the organic aesthetic seems so thoroughly authentic. bought some mele cotone preserves to bring home (to chianti). loved breakfast room tables made from (i assume) ends of wine barriques.
lama di luna is very near castel del monte, which should be visited. and trani.

Jun 25, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

PUglia

Masseria Gattamora is an agritourismo very near (15 min?) Otranto, outside Uggiano di Chiesa. Excellent restaurant, nice place to stay as well. Owners are terrifically helpful as well.

Jun 25, 2012
grevegiano in Italy

Crete (Palaikastro, Elounda, Agios Nikolaos) - any recommendations?

i posted on another crete board and won't repeat it all. but i'd say the cheeses were limited, and i was most attracted to the fresh cheese they use on dakos and salads. the one they call their gruyere is less interesting. the local honeys are wonderful and go well on cheese and on the crepe like thing (forgot the name) that has cheese inside. do order dakos.
yes, the wild greens are wonderful. sometimes better prepared than others.

i recommended Istiorloikos restaurant in heraklion (also called heraklion sailing club), the museum in heraklion. milia is a must.

Sep 17, 2011
grevegiano in Europe

Crete - 10 days

a few updates on crete, since we've just returned:
Herakiion.
Syntages no longer exists, but as we searched it out we were sent by man in office across the way from the defunct restaurant to a fantastic restaurant on the port.
he wrote the name as Istioploikos. the card from the restaurant which we took away also said Heraklion Sailing Club. the phone number is 2810228118.
it is rather hard to find--you have to cross a huge parking lot and ask several times. there are other restaurants near it so you have to make sure you get the right one.
the old venetian fort is to the west of you and ferry dock is to the east. you sit right at the water so there's usually a breeze. not touristy. seemed people in the know.
on the menu it says to ask to see the fish of the day which we did. they have an open grill and we shared a large fish in the orata family and grilled sardines. these and everything else we had there was excellent. as in most cretan restaurants, they give you desserts gratis and raki. for four the bill ( with carafe wine) was about 80 euros.

not sure who said the heraklion museum is not worth the time but i beg to differ!
the main museum is being renovated but the small part that is open is superb--worth trip in itself.
creme de la creme.

wherever you are in crete you can order dakos for a satisfying lunch, i would say. almost every version i tried throughout the island was excellent and fresh. it's a kind of bruschetta on that dark rusk you find there, with tomatoes, oil, and the soft cheese on top of that. the rusk softens in the juice and oil.

Milia is a must. food, ambiance, architecture, details: all highest quality. very very special!

Chora Sfafkion:
not as charmless a town (really more of a village) as the excellent alpha&omege site makes out.
the Xenia hotel seems the best bet both for hotel and restaurant. owner giorgio lets you know if he can get frest fish; his charming wife anna raises the vegetables and gets eggs from her chickens. we went to meet friends there for the swimming which is marvelous. many beaches, clearest water. gorges nearby for walking. plant life is fascinating. very inexpensive, everything.

i live in tuscany and found food in crete healthy and wonderfully interesting. from comments on this site i'd expected much less. we went to modest places.
chania disappointed us. it seemed a potentially beautiful city overrun with tourists and visually spoiled by tourist stuff. i did not want to spend time there.

Sep 17, 2011
grevegiano in Europe