It’s almost like Puglia is designed for foodies. This agricultural region, right on the heel of Italy’s boot, is the perfect landscape for growing incredible produce. There’s lots of sun, rich fertile soil and a battalion of farmers who tend to the land and ensure a bountiful harvest, season after season. Whilst local and seasonal are buzzwords for the best restaurants in Paris, that’s just the way the world works here. Fresh cheese, fish, and of course fresh vegetables, which in our experience tended to be the star of the show, are just de rigueur. As well as all this though, Puglia is famous for its olives. This tiny region manages to produce around 23% of all of the olive oil in Europe; that’s staggering when you consider just how small it’s footprint is! So without further ado, lets dive straight in to our foodie tour of Puglia. Knives and forks at the ready!

Stay at Masseria Salinola

Masserias are popular places to stay throughout Italy, as it gives you more of a flavour of true local life than a grand hotel ever could. Our guesthouse was completely charming, an immaculately renovated farmhouse, set in grounds of mature olive groves. We felt right at home at Masseria Salinola, but one thing puzzled us. I tend to leave my hat on the pillow in the evenings, as I don’t need it in the midday sun. Upon coming home every evening my hat was always neatly hung on the back of the door. I asked our hosts about it after a couple of days, it turns out that an unusual superstition that many Italians hold is that it is bad luck to leave your hat on the bed, as it can signal the arrival of a doctor. Our lovely hosts had simply been protecting us from any bad luck coming our way! Other than our funny misunderstanding, this was without doubt one of the most friendly and welcoming houses that we have been fortunate enough to stay at. A real treat to stay with such wonderful hosts in such a beautiful setting.

Eat Burrata

We’ll start off, not with a specific restaurant recommendation, but with an absolute order. Eat Burrata. This creamy cheese is probably Puglia’s most famous cheese export and there’s a good reason. It is delicious! It’s very fresh, similar to mozzarella, but even creamier in the centre. It’s milky richness is best cut with nothing but a sprinkle of herbs, a drizzle of high quality olive oil and some crusty bread to mop up the juice. Luckily for you, good, fresh burrata is everywhere, so pop into any cafe or restaurant and sample some. It’s pure unctuous deliciousness, you are guaranteed to be delighted.

Eat at Restaurante al Trabucco da Mimi

First on the restaurants list is Trabucco da Mimi, named after a specific method of fishing. Mimi was the original head of the restaurant here, but since his passing, his family have taken over and thankfully the quality of the food remains as good as ever. Make yourself at home on the veranda which juts out above the sea and watch as your lunch is quite literally caught before your very eyes. The focus here is on freshness rather than frills, so don’t expect anything cooked sous vide, or served in a smoking bowl of liquid nitrogen, rather just revel in a fresh piece of fish and some glorious salad. Sometimes the classics don’t need any altering and Trabucco da Mimi proves that.

Eat Orichiette at Trattoria Terra Madre

As mentioned earlier, the vegetables in Puglia are hard to beat, and Trattoria Terra Madre has realised this. This restaurant operates a true farm-to-table ethos, where absolutely everything is sourced either from their garden, or from their couple of acres of land just outside the town. Everything is organic, fed with compost from food scraps at the restaurant and it shows in the taste. Vegetarians can enjoy a three course menu of ‘just vegetables’ from the garden, which are heavenly little plates that showcase the punchy flavours that we sometimes forget about, being so used to bland plastic wrapped vegetables from the supermarket. Perhaps the tastiest dish on the menu here though, is oricchiette, or ‘little ears’. This shape of pasta is specific to Puglia and is perfect for holding onto delicious sauces. The sauce that is offered at Trattoria Terra Madre will change seasonally, but when we visited we were delighted to be able to sample a sauce made with very traditional cime di rape, olive oil and fresh herbs from the garden. Perfection.