PUGLIA, ITALY: Why you must visit & the BEST PASTICCIOTTO in LECCE
Hi, friends! So one of the best things about living in London is its proximity to all of the other incredible places there are to visit in Europe! I’ve got friends in Italy, so I found myself twice there already, hanging with Maria and Nicola, and of course Connor, in the north of Italy, in Friuli, at Nicola’s family’s gorgeous vineyard. (Comelli wines shout out!) Last week I was in southern Italy, warmly welcomed in Lecce, by Jeremy, Michelle and Domenico. The people of Puglia are proud of their specialties, from local coffee Quarta, to how they make their bread, “Here it’s hard outside, and hard inside.” To their beloved pasticciotto. Here are my top 5 highlights. Number one: the beach! From a damp, gray London, this felt like heaven. We went to Punta della Suina, near Gallipoli. Number two: the gelato! Here, I had pistachio with fondente, a.k.a. dark chocolate. Number 3: linguine alla vongole. My favorite dish that I had in Puglia, from the restaurant L’Ostrica Ubriaca. This is Ciccio. He’s the pal of Michelle and Dominico, and she showed us a delicious time at his restaurant. Number 4: the history. The local limestone, the cathedrals, the Roman amphitheatres, the stories of what happened in that very spot thousands of years ago. And number 5: THE FOOD. This is kind of redundant to number 3, but c’mon, we were in Italy! And ALL of the food was so good! And Dominico’s family welcomed us into their home, and we had a feast! And, of course, pasticciotto, which takes me to our dessert adventure. Pasticciotto… It’s funny, the first time I tried it was like, “Ehh, I don’t know…” But you have to find the right pasticciotto, and it’s delicious. The best pasticciotto in Lecce, Michelle says she knows where it is, it’s not in a touristy spot, it’s right behind me: Caffè L’incontro. This bakery is a family-run business. Let’s meet the family! – Tonia – Simone – Noemi – Laurio Pasticciotto is the undisputed king of pastries in Salento, which is this part of Puglia. Chef invited us into the kitchen to see how it’s done. Thankfully, I had Michelle with me to translate! He went on to say that he’s from Lecce, that he’s eaten pasticciotto for as long as he can remember, and he’s been making pasticciotto since he was 15 years old. And lucky for us, he shows us how it’s done. This is a creamy custard, which is then piped into the shortcrust pastry, and topped with another oval of the dough. He then seals it over top and removed the excess dough. You can tell these fingers have been doing this a very long time. They’re then brushed with an egg wash for a beautifully browned top, and they’re ready for the oven. Laurio, the head pastry chef, is at the helm of the oven to determine the exact right moment to take them out. The time is right when they’re beautifully golden on top. This bakery serves them still warm, straight from the oven. You wouldn’t be able to find pasticciotto very easily in Rome or Milan, you’d have to go to a special Pugliese pastry shop to find them. They have so much pride for the pasticciotto, as they should! It is a creamy, warm, buttery delight. Let’s eat! So good!! It’s really good. Big thanks to Michelle for being translator extraordinaire and pasticciotto navigator. Where else in Europe do you want to see me go? I want to go so many places and I would like YOU to help me narrow it down. Ok, leave a comment below please, thumbs up this video if you liked it, and as always, keep it quirky!!!