Contributing Monkie Aria Alpert
Published on July 26, 2012
Photographer: Aria Alpert
Yes, friends, this is almost it. The Awaiting Table is coming to an end. It’s been so lovely but, I gotta tell ya, I am f-ing filled to the brim with food and wine. I need to stop f-ing eating and drinking! Ahhhhh… 1 dinner and 1 lunch to go…I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…okay…twist my arm…. :)
The temperature keeps rising here so we wanted to create the least amount of heat in the kitchen while making dinner. That was the plan anyway. But as you know, plans don’t always go as planned. Somehow I volunteered to make the eggplant over the hot stove. The dish shoulda been called eggplant with essence of Aria from all the sweat I dripped making them. And right next to me, Ted was sweating a big pan of yellow bell peppers and next to him Giuseppe was sautéing a pot of string beans…I mean…come on guys! This was probably the MOST heat we made in the kitchen!
The only thing that wasn’t creating any heat was a classic Leccese dish. It’s basically a bread salad with fresh vegetables. The difference is that they use a local dense hard bread to do it called, Frise Integrali. It’s cooked like a biscotti so it’s very hard and the only way they eat it is by soaking it in water to rehydrate it and then eat/use in recipes when soft. Am I the only one who finds that strange? I mean, why not just keep it soft in the first place? Well, I asked of course, and Silverstro informed me that this particular type of bread has been around for years and originally was eaten by field workers and those who travelled long distances because it doesn’t spoil. So they would pack the hard bread in their bag and when they got hungry travelling along the countryside, or working in the fields, they would forage some wild onions and tomatoes, what ever they could find and soak the hard bread in the fresh stream until soft and managia (that’s eat in Italian)! Well, I’ve tried it both ways and personally, I like it better crunchy. But then again, I’m American, so what do I know… :)
We had a few Antipasti: Eggplant with essence of Aria, olive oil, sea salt, red pepper and fresh mint. And a caramelized yellow bell pepper with olive oil, sea salt and finished with breadcrumbs. This is the simplest and one of my favorite dishes we made. Yes, I know. This was a surprise to me as well. Oh, for those of you who don’t know, I am not a fan of the bell peppers. But cooked this way, I do believe I have been converted.
The primi was the Capunata, which is the bread salad I wrote about above. So it’s the crunchy bread, tomatoes, cucumber, capers, olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, fresh mint, parsley and basil.
The secondi was Coniglio e Pollo con verdure alla griglia. Yes, this is grilled chicken with a raw marjoram lemon olive oil sauce. I just wanted to express that all the meats used were organically and humanly grown. So, as these dishes may not be vegan, they sure are Green. I’m just sayin’…
The docli was Pesche al vino, which are roasted peaches in wine and raw sugar. We served it chilled with a sweet vanilla sugar ricotta.
We had 2 different wines. One was a Rose from Salento called Girofle, 2008. And the other was a red Negroamaro from Salento called Brindisi, 2008.