Puglia Food and Drink

Food and Drink in Puglia

Apulia, or Puglia in Italian, covers the idyllic ‘heel’ of South East Italy. A promontory between the Ionian and Adriatic Seas, Puglia boasts a stunning tapestry of Olive groves, gentle hillsides and sprawling farmland, not to mention the extensive, sun kissed beaches. It is a region bounded in a rich and varied history, having played host to the boots of numerous foreign invaders over the centuries, (including the Normans, Swabians, Turks and  Greeks) each of whom have left their own influences, creating a culture that is uniquely Puglian.

 

But let’s focus on the real reason you’re visiting Italy.

 

Yes the culture is fascinating, and yes the landscape and seascapes are breath-taking…but even more important than all of that, there’s the food and drink; specifically in this case, food and drink in Puglia.

 

As a country, Italy is renowned for her cuisine, and Puglia is no exception to the rule, boasting a long tradition of culinary mastery. Largely an agricultural region, Puglia produces approximately 40% of Italy’s olive oil, not to mention a sizeable proportion of its wine.

 

Much of Puglia’s land is designated farmland, both crops and livestock, providing a cornucopia of fine local produce including; olive oil, salami, peppers, artichokes, mushrooms, durum wheat, tomatoes, grapes and much more.

 

Many of the locals still grow their own produce as well, which, over time, has given rise to the now legendary “cucina povera” (peasant cooking) which has helped to rocket the fame of food and drink in Puglia.

 

Naturally, as a coastal region, seafood also plays a significant part in mealtimes in Puglia, and dripping treasure troves of red mullet, sea bass, cuttlefish, anchovies and gilt-head bream are hauled fresh from the seas and into the restaurants and shops daily.

 

Then, of course, we must mention the pasta. You can no doubt find all of your favourite pasta dishes that your local Italian restaurant does so well…but Puglia will probably do it better. Puglians take great pride in their hand-produced “orecchiette” (little, ear-shaped shells) usually served with one of a variety of delicious sauces. Another regional speciality is “maccheroni al forno,” essentially a maccheroni pie, and highly recommended.

 

As with the pasta, Puglian bread is made using the local durum wheat, and is a mouth-watering accompaniment to every meal. Altamura (South-West of Bari) is home to the delectable “Pane di Altamura” (Altamura bread), which is renowned throughout Europe.

 

The region’s cheeses are largely of an ovine persuasion, due to the vast flocks of sheep that inhabit the land. A local historic delicacy, “burrata di Andria,” dates back to around 1900 and its origins can supposedly be traced to the Bianchini farm in the city of Andria. Puglian pecorinos and ricottas also come extremely highly recommended for cheese-enthusiasts.

 

Local favourite dessert options are largely sweetened ricotta cheese-based delights, or equally pleasing almond-based sweets.

 

So in a region so packed with outstanding cuisine, where can one go to enjoy a meal which reaches or even exceeds the gastric standards of a land inhabited by the food-lovers elite?

 

Recommended Restaurants for Food and drink in Puglia

 

Al Focolare da Emilio (at the hearth of Emilio) is a busy, friendly restaurant located in Bari’s bustling city centre. A family-run establishment (the Veronoli family), Al Focolare da Emilio offers a nice selection of traditional Puglian dishes as well as a short, but high quality wine list. Though widely known for their seafood options, you are sure to find something for all tastes.

 

The Baccosteria Restaurant is the place to be for all seafood aficionados, although it is advisable to book well in advance due to its popularity and the fact that it can only seat 25 at any one time. Using only fresh ingredients, the Baccosteria offers numerous speciality seafood dishes and is as much enjoyed by locals as it is by visitors.

 

Grotta Palazzese is a stunning and renowned hotel in Polignano a Mare whos restaurant could represent “idyllic” in the dictionary. Nestled into a cavern, or grotto, overlooking the Adriatic Sea, the breathtaking and romantic restaurant (which includes a bar and lounge area) serves excellent, traditional Mediterranean cuisine. Although specialising in seafood dishes, they also offer a range of land-based options to suit even the fussiest of palate.

 

La Chiusa delle More is a 16th century farm-house, converted into a delightful Inn and bed & breakfast. Situated just over a mile outside of Peschici, near the Gargano National Park in exquisite surroundings, the kitchen provides a buffet breakfast of locally picked fruits, fresh breads and pastries and more. Then at dinner, outstanding, traditional Puglian fare adorn the tables with speciality meat and seafood dishes. Aesthetically charming and ventrally pleasing, La Chiusa delle More is a must visit.

 

Borgo Egnazia is Puglia’s most prestigious resort, a village in its own right, with a plethora of amenities and pleasurable distractions available. The main restaurant, Due Camini, is a serene, relaxed place to get better acquainted with the traditional food of the Pugliese. There is also a barbecue and buffet restaurant in the Borgo, La Frasca, which has a pleasant garden spot for the children. While in Trattoria Mia Cucina, one can enjoy watching their food prepared before them, and socialise with other culinary enthusiasts at the group tables. Borgo Egnazia is truly deserving of its glittering reputation.

Regardless of your choice of venue, we can assure that food and drink in Puglia will not disappoint. Just make sure to save space for dessert.

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Five Festivals In Edinburgh You Won’t Want To Miss

“Edinburgh Festival Fireworks” by Edinburgh Blog licensed under C.C. by 2.0

Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital and home to a plethora of her most well-loved festival events. Whether it’s arts, music, culture or comedy that tickles your fancy, there is a festival for everyone to be found in “Auld Reekie.” Here are five festivals in Edinburgh that you won’t want to miss:

 

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

 

Started in 1947 and now the largest arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh Fringe spans three weeks every August and, in 2014, hosted a staggering number of nearly 50,000 performances. Ranging from stand-up comedy right through to opera and musicals, the Fringe caters for all tastes and all ages. You won’t want to miss it.

 

Edinburgh International Film Festival

 

Like the Fringe, the Film Festival has been on the go since 1947 and is the longest running continual film festival in the world. Spanning two weeks in June, the Film Festival screens cinematic works from all over the world, covering all genres and all lengths of film, from cheerful, family entertainment to the grittier, more artsy projects, there will be a film for everyone at the festival.

 

Edinburgh International Science Festival

 

Founded in 1989, the International Science Festival is one of the longest running and largest in Europe. Educational and entertaining in equal measure, the Science Festival seeks to open the eyes of both children and adults to the wonders of the world around them. With interactive exhibitions, informative lectures and fascinating displays, however you like to learn, the festival can provide.

 

Scottish International Storytelling Festival

 

Running since 1989 and celebrating the Celtic tradition of bardic-style storytelling and music. From the famed Sagas of the Norse Skalds to the romances of the Irish Éireann, Scottish heritage has infused with other Celtic and Nordic cultures to create their own deep-rooted traditions of the Seanachaidh (storytellers) and the ceilidh. Based around the past-time of communities gathering to share stories, music and dance, little has changed in essence, but with the inclusion of international storytellers and exhibits, people from all walks will find themselves drawn inexorably into both the imagined and the factual tales from around the world.

 

Other festivals in Edinburgh you won’t want to miss

 

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

 

First performed in 1950, as the Army’s contribution to the Edinburgh International Festival, the Royal Military Tattoo has expanded into one of the greatest shows on offer. Today the Tattoo features a vast range of entertainment; from stirring military marches, modern pop and classical pomp and circumstance to Zulu war-dances, exotic animal performances and numerous civilian tributes to the men and women of the police and military. Set against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a spectacle that comes hard to beat.

 

There is, of course, a wide array of other exciting and wonderful events taking place annually in the “Auld Reekie,” but these are five festivals in Edinburgh that you absolutely will not want to miss.

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How to Pack for a Holiday in Scotland

“I remember that platform bell” by @Sage_Solar licensed under C.C. by 2.0

In a country whose rugged natural charms are as much a result of lively weather patterns as anything else, it makes sense, we feel, to put together a rough guide on how to pack for a holiday in Scotland.

If it’s not your first time on these shores, you will probably be aware that looks can be deceiving. Whilst a beautiful, sunny day from behind layers of double glazing, the sunshine can disguise a potentially biting wind and cold.  When it’s nice though, it is extremely nice. Temperatures can soar in the summer months and you will find locals and visitors alike splashing about, sailing or canoeing in the fresh mountain rivers and stunning sea-lochs.

However extended periods like this are, unfortunately, relatively rare, the weather here is, in a word, unpredictable. You’ll be pleased to discover that this in no way detracts from the general beauty of the land, but it does mean that one should probably check out this guide on how to pack for a holiday in Scotland before visiting.

For the summer months, there will almost certainly be at least a few days where the sun shines bright and warm and it will be perfectly suited to shorts and t-shirts, even swimming outdoors…although the water will definitely still be somewhat chilly. Alas, even days that start in sunshine and high temperatures can very quickly turn to rain and a severe drop in temperature.

 

Rain is pretty much guaranteed to make an appearance at some point during your holiday, unless you are very fortunate. But somehow many of the views over Scotland’s landscape are actually enhanced by sudden downpours and as everyone knows, after rain arrives a rainbow. So with this in mind, it is highly advisable to pack a good quality, lightweight rain-coat or waterproof jacket along with your camera. Water-proof trousers may seem like overkill, but when it pours, it really pours so it’s a good idea to pack some appropriate leg-wear, along with your shorts.

 

Snow is another thing to keep in mind when deciding how to pack for a holiday in Scotland, especially in the winter months (although on occasion the snow can sneak its way into spring and autumn, and even, very rarely, summer.) It is unusual to find vast snow-drifts or to be snowed in completely, as a nation they are well prepared for blizzard conditions, but it can be extremely icy underfoot. The wind in the winter is something to ward against, layers are a must (unless you are in possession of top of the range winter garments…or are travelling from North America) and sturdy, well-soled footwear is absolutely essential.

 

How to pack for a holiday in Scotland

 

As much as it depends on the season in which you are visiting Scotland, it is advisable to come prepared for weather right across the spectrum, not to the extent of packing snow-shoes next to your bikini, but it is likely that you will require warmer items even in the summer. A rain-coat or waterproof is an absolute must for all non-amphibians, and if you’re planning on staying in or visiting the countryside (you’d be mad not to) then good quality footwear is highly recommended. So when deciding how to pack for a holiday in Scotland, be prepared, and enjoy your stay in sunny, windy, rainy, snowy, beautiful Scotland.

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Best Travel Apps for European Trips

Whether you’re travelling abroad on holiday or business, trying to get home after a long trip or picking up a loved one from the airport, there are always things which can go wrong and transform your pleasant journey into a mobile (or frustratingly static for that matter) nightmare. Fortunately, we live in the technological age and as such, and as far as possible, there’s an app for that…or rather, quite a few apps for that. The following are five of the best travel apps for European trips.

 

XE Currency

A fantastic currency conversion app. Highly accurate, with live currency rates and a review grade average of 4.3 stars…from more than five million downloads to date. It’s completely free and available on iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phones.  There is a pro-version available, however the free version is more than adequate for most.

 

Tipulator

As many a traveller will have discovered, traversing the mysterious world of tips can be a tricky one, where too generous a tip can cause offence in some places, and the same generosity would be considered stingy in others, it can all get terribly confusing, especially for those less mathematically savvy than some, and this can cause some embarrassment. But fortunately, your phone or tablet device can now do it for you. This app is very simple to use, basically a percentage calculator. Available on all devices, and absolutely free.

 

Onavo

Something everyone can relate to, travelling or otherwise, is the general obscenity of data roaming charges. Normally this can be circumvented by simply not using it, but what if you are travelling abroad and you need to download an e-mail attachment for work, or get online to complete a financial transfer and there’s no Wi-Fi? With Onavo installed on your phone, the amount of data required to accomplish your online goals is severely reduced, from posting on Facebook to downloading large files…and it’s completely free, making it one of the best travel apps for Europe, or indeed anywhere. Available on iPhone and Android.

 

Hostelworld

This is a great app for those who don’t fancy shelling out for a room at a luxury hotel, or for those who just enjoy the camaraderie of fellow travellers. Hostelworld has a geo-tagged directory of more than 25,000 budget hotels and other accommodation, linked to over 3.5 million user reviews, thereby considerably reducing your chances of winding up somewhere likely to put a dampener on one’s vacation experience. Free on iPhone and Android.

 

Essential travel apps for European Trips

 

ATM Locator / ATM Finder (By Positive Infinity)

This is a very useful app, most people will have at some point on holiday found themselves in a part of town they don’t recognise and discovered a worrying lack of cash in their wallet for a taxi back to familiar ground…no longer an issue with the ATM Locator. Using GPS it finds the nearest cash machine to your location. It will provide a list or a map depending on your preference and includes voice search and map search as well. Available for free on all devices.

 

These are just five of the best travel apps for European trips, there are many more out there, but these five can only add to your vacationing experience.

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