Contributing Monkie Aria Alpert
Published on July 23, 2012
Photographer: Aria Alpert
If my life in Italy wasn’t envious enough for you… and me for that matter …I’m gonna break down my days here in Lecce. Around 10am we all meet at the café for our morning espresso drink of our individual choosing. I first started out with an Americano but since it is so freaking hot here I have moved onto the iced espresso with the almond milk I talked about in my previous post. Oh and since I am being so honest with you all, I must admit, my one shot of espresso has moved onto two! It’s a pretty molto bene way to start the day, I gotta say.
So, after we all slowly enjoy each other’s company mixed with the gentle kick from the caffeine, we walk down the road to the famers market and buy all of our fresh produce and ingredients for lunch and dinner. After shopping we walk back to school in the hot summer sun and start our prep to cook lunch. Also, if we are making pasta, we will make 2 different shapes and we’ll enjoy one shape for lunch and the other for dinner.
This is the first time in a long time I have enjoyed eating pasta. It’s fresh and dense and chewy and light and hearty all the same time so less is more, which means you don’t need to eat a mound of it to feel nourished and get satisfied. And since it’s a blend of unprocessed whole grain barley and semolina flours, it gives it tons of fiber, which makes for lovely regularity for this traveler. Sorry…I’m just saying…
Ummmm…before I mention what we prepared, I just want to give a shout out to a very special particular G Monkie who informed me that I am the first and only one blogging on this site who is writing about non-vegan dishes. Thank you for allowing me to share my non-vegan ways!
For lunch we started with our primi of Le orecchhiette con le cima di rape or ear shaped pasta with broccoli rabe. It’s one of my favorites. We chopped the rabe, added garlic, red pepper flakes, sea salt, olive oil and cooked it so it became like a thick sauce. Then after we boiled the pasta, we added a little of the pasta water to the rabe cause the starch from the pasta helps thickens the sauce and all the flavors become one. Yum.
Our secondi was Coniglio con olive verde e timo or, brace yourselves, braised rabbit with green olives and thyme. I know. I felt the same way. But I tasted a little and gotta admit, it was kinda great. That’s all I’m gonna say about cause I don’t wanna think to deeply about it, if you get my meaning… :)
And for the docli was had Fresh Green Figs with a lovely not too sweet desert wine.
For wine we had a red Negroamaro from Salento called Santa Maria Del Morige, 2007
Lunch normally ends around 3pm and we have at least 2 or 3 hours before we have to come back and prep for DINNER!!! I know. An abundant amount of food and wine. Very decadent I am these days. And loving every minute of it…
First of all, I just wanna express to you all, that am not the kind of gal who drinks in the afternoon and every night so this wine twice a day thang takes a few days to get in the swing of, or, I shall say, the swagger. But the swag definitely comes quick when you are here in Lecce, I must say. Cause all I gotts ta do is saunter on down the road to my B&B, take my shoes off, put on some Maria Callas, lay down on the bed and take a nap. Damn. This cooking school eating, drinking business is hard work. What I find the most fascinating though is that after my nap I somehow am, not only sober but ready and roaring to go make and eventually eat dinner and drink some more WINE!!
And now…the dinner menu.
Our primi was Ciceri e tria, which is a slowly cooked thick chick pea stew with flat pasta cooked 2 ways. 1st way boiled, 2nd way fried in olive oil so it’s crispy and soft. Wonderful textures and tastes in this dish and it’s one of the most beloved dishes in this region. And for you vegan’s out there, this one is for you. Back in the day, the fried pasta was originally meant to mimic the texture of meat so…there you go! And, now, you must forgive me when I write the secondi dish.
Our secondi was Salsiccia fresca, which is homemade grilled pork sausage with dried figs. I warned you! This is the one and only dish I wanted nothing to do with, as I am sure you can imagine…so we shall just leave it at that. But we did grill a bunch of eggplants and bell peppers before the sausages, which were yummy. Grilled and finished with olive oil, sea salt and freshly chopped herbs.
The wine we had was a red primitivo de manduria called Moi. Smooth as silk.
And the docli is now one of my new favorites so if you are my friend you will probably be getting this for your annual holiday homemade treat! Just make sure you let me know if you are allergic to almonds!!! It’s called Le Cupeta, otherwise known as almond brittle but unlike any other almond brittle I have had. Blanched almonds, raw sugar caramelized and a rub of a lemon over the hot sugar when it gets poured over the almonds to set. It’s sublime with an intoxicating essence of lemon. Mmmmmm so so so damn good.
And that, my friends, it that…
Hope you enjoy.