Puglia Italy waterview

Eating Our Way Across Italy, Part I: Monopoli

For the past couple of weeks we’ve been eating good food, drinking good wine, and having a GOOD time. The Keeper team just got home from Italy, and we have so much to share. We decided that we wanted to divide and conquer the country – North, South, East, and West – to find the freshest foods and best Italian cooking.

Part of our team took on the northwest side of Italy, tasting foods in the Italian Riviera and slipping into France. The other part of the team traveled to Northern and Southern Italy and even snuck on over to Innsbruck, Austria. Life’s rough, huh? In Southern Italy, we wanted to find the freshest foods and learn the most from a culinary perspective.

Our trip began in the medieval coastal town of Monopoli located near Bari, home to about 50,000 Italians. Located on the western shores of the Adriatic Sea, Monopoli’s beautiful water and yummy seafood took our breath away! It’s an excellent place to visit for a foodie because of its rich agricultural industry and fresh seafood. We stayed in a small apartment overlooking the water – quite the view, to say the least.

We weren’t about to let a little jetlag slow us down, so straight to lunch! Our first meal was at a picturesque local café called Osteria Perrici.

Osteria Perrici

We enjoyed dish after dish of authentic Italian family-style cooking, all fresh and local to the area. We started with a local white wine, which was light and fruity, but not overly so. This went well with the start of our meal, tomato bruschetta soaked in olive oil. By the time we could take a picture, all had been devoured except for one piece (it’s every man for himself with this crowd)! A perfect traditional start to an Italian meal.

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Tomato Bruschetta

After this, we were drooling at the antipasti...

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The freshness of the seafood was striking. Lightly cooked octopus, steamed clams, fried sardines, fritters laced with fish flakes, sun-dried tomatoes, calamari crudo, anchovies in lemon and oil…what more could a foodie ask for? 7 dishes of pure indulgence later, it was time to wrap things up, right? WRONG! Here comes the second course…

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Spaghetti al cernia with chunks of fish in a tomato sauce

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Cavatelli Cozze e Vongole filled with clams in a garlic based broth

The second course, or Primi, consisted of these two seafood pastas with pepperoncini on the side. The pepperoncini added a nice zing to the dishes. Osteria chefs have to walk only a few hundred meters to the dock to get the fish that they serve daily, like those in our Spaghetti course. The garlic broth of our Cavatelli Cozze dish really enhanced the flavor of the clams. By this point, we were ready to throw in the towel…UNTIL this arrived on our table. Magically, we found room for more!

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Frito Misto - Shrimp, Octopus, Calamari

The Frito Misto was fabulous, including shrimp, octopus, and calamari – all seasoned and cooked to perfection. In a short time, our plates were wiped clean. Full beyond belief, this meal proved to be the perfect start to our trip! We headed back to our apartment to get some shuteye, and we were left to dream of our morning choice of either Cappucino or Espresso.

The next day (after getting our cup of caffeine goodness at Caffe Roma), we couldn’t wait to jump right in and cook some food of our own. We headed to the market to browse all the fresh ingredients that Monopoli had to offer.

Keep an eye out for future posts about the Monopoli market, our own Italian cooking efforts, and our continued travels as “Keeper Conquers Italy!”

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