Aglianico 20% Off, Taste of Puglia Dinner

Spring Sale Continues: Aglianico 20% Off

This Friday (5:30-7:30) and Saturday (4:30-6:30) the Vino staff will be pouring 5 Aglianicos featured in our Spring sale.

We’ve overstocked and need to make room for May arrivals! These bottles will be available at 15% off in store and 20% off on our website.

You can browse all of our current web offers by clicking here.

Don’t wait too long — these bottles are going fast!

Friday and Saturday tastings at Vino are FREE.
To register for the free tastings, please send an email to events@vinosite.com.

The Vino staff will be pouring the following wines.*

Click on the links below to learn more and/or to order.

*Wines subject to change depending on availability.

* * *

Delectable Lecce
by Michele Scicolone

Taste of Puglia Dinner
with Charles and Michele Scicolone

Wednesday, April 18, 7:30 p.m.
Ristorante I Trulli
122 East 27th St.
five wines, five courses
$125.00 (inclusive)
Limited seating
To reserve, please send an email
to events@vinosite.com.

Or call events coordinator Jeremy Parzen at 212-213-8772.

Italy is the number-one European travel destination for Americans but most don’t go beyond Rome, Florence, and Venice. If you have already been there and done that, consider Puglia, the region that makes up the heel of the Italian boot, for your next trip.


In November, Charles and I spent a week in Lecce, a small city in central Puglia characterized by its distinctive baroque architecture. We stayed at the Hotel Patria Palace, located in the center of town. The hotel shares a piazza with the Duomo, a spectacular 16th-century church whose ornate golden facade changed endlessly with the light of day. It was a perfect base from which to explore the area.

Every day we drove out to the nearby countryside to visit the neighboring towns, winemakers, and olive oil producers, returning most evenings to have dinner in Lecce. Historically an agricultural region, the food of Puglia is based on simple ingredients: grains like wheat and farro (or emmer wheat); legumes, especially fava beans and chickpeas; leafy greens such as chicory and turnip tops; almonds and other nuts; seafood; lamb and goat meat and cheeses; and, most of all, outstanding olive oil. The fruity oil is even used in baking pastries, cakes, and cookies which turn out tender and moist. Pasta is completely different from the delicate egg and soft wheat pastas of the north. In Puglia, pasta is made with hard durum wheat flour and water and is usually shaped into small pieces like orecchiette (“little ears”) and maccheroncini. The texture is chewy and satisfying.

Puglia’s finest wines are all red and made from native grapes including Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Uva di Troia. Good producers included Conti Zecca and Rivera. There are also some excellent whites that are well suited to the region’s seafood. Look for wine made from Greco and Malvasia grapes by Botromagno. Conti Zecca makes a very good Malvasia bianca. For a dessert wine, try the Moscato di Trani by Rivera.

At Alle Due Corti (Corte dei Giugni 1, tel. +39 0832 242223) our meal began with a variety of antipasti that included pizza di patate, two layers of mashed potatoes surrounding a filling of tomatoes, onions and herbs; roasted peppers with toasted breadcrumbs and capers; and a spinach frittata. Next we had our first encounter with orecchiette, the iconic pasta of Puglia. Here the little disks of handmade semolina pasta were named for Santa Ronzo, the patron saint of Lecce, and served in a tomato, eggplant, and mozzarella sauce.

Restaurant Picton (Via Idomeneo 14, tel. +39 0832 332383) is located in a Renaissance palace with high ceilings and an enormous fireplace. We started with locally grown farro braised with miniature cuttlefish, and a pignatello, or small crock, filled with octopus, tender white beans, and tomatoes. A refreshing orange crostata ended the meal.

There were many wonderful meals, but a favorite was one we enjoyed at Osteria degli Spiriti (Via Cesare Battisti 4, tel. 0832 246274), where we had numerous vegetables including cauliflower in cheese sauce, sauteed peppers, and a potato focaccia, followed by ceci e tria, a chickpea stew mixed with short strips of both boiled and deep fried pasta (think of the crunchy noodles you get in Chinese restaurants).

Here is a recipe for ceci e tria that appeared in my book 1,000 Italian Recipes. Charles suggests you enjoy it with a glass of Salice Salentino from Conti
Zecca
.

Ceci e Tria
Chickpea Stew with Crispy Pasta
Serves 4

3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped tomato
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 cups water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
12 ounces fresh fettuccine, cut into 3-inch lengths

1. In a large saucepan combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the onion, celery, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the chickpeas, tomato, parsley, and water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook 30 minutes.

2. Set out a tray covered with paper towels. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of oil over medium heat. Add one-fourth of the pasta and cook, stirring, until it blisters and begins to brown lightly, about 4 minutes. Remove the pasta with a slotted spoon and drain it on the tray. Repeat with another quarter of the pasta.

3. Bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, then the rest of the pasta. Stir well. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente, tender yet still firm to the bite. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water.

4. Stir the boiled pasta into the simmering sauce. Stir in some of the cooking water if the pasta seems dry. It should resemble a thick soup.

5. Add the fried pasta to the pan and stir. Serve immediately.

Copyright 2001, 1,000 Italian Recipes, by Michele Scicolone (Wiley).
ISBN: 978-0-7645-6676-9

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