We got lucky when proprietor Alessandro Pagano invited us to try a five course luncheon at his country house Masseria Bagnara. Chef Angela Pagano and her staff offered the finest of the locally inspired cuisine.
Entry courses (primo piatto)
After some fried zucchini and a mozzarella cheese on its bed of fresh tomato (like in REAL tomatoes…) you are ready for the first of two entry courses (no further comments, please…): You start off with pasta “Calamarata” on rucola, tomatoes and ricotta.
As often times in the Italian cuisine the ingredients are not complicated to compile but since they are of excellent quality the plate ends up being very tasty. Actually so much so that you better watch out for the quantity you want to eat since there are still a few courses to go…
The second entry is a pasta al forno (lasagne) with coppa (kind of ham), zucchini vegetable and a sauce that makes you feel in heaven. If it doesn’t come across in the photographs I’m happy to repeat in written form: this plate is also mouth watering and you long for the full BLECH that must have sit in the oven.
But then again, as we all know by now, this was only the second starter after the two amuse-bouche that we enjoyed for starters. Bear with me for another moment…
By this point in time you feel somewhat dizzy from so many overwhelming tastes, the very friendly staff and potentially also from the local wine. Puglia may be better known for its wine from the Salento region, but the local wines from a bit further up Northwest are equally good and we opted for a Negroamaro from Maruggio, as recommended by the waitress who actually comes from that very region. As it turned out we never regretted the choice…
In between the courses not only the waiters were helpful to explain the dishes but also Alessandro and his sister-in-law Annamaria made for a very personal luncheon experience. And since we were there off-season even receptionist Francesca came over for a chat on masserias of the region (refurbished country houses).
Main course (secondo piatto)
And then, tataaa, our palates were ready for the main course. A pork fillet along with a ‘mille feuille’ of potatoes and wrapped legumes was the highlight of the day.
Well, until dessert was served, anyway. I guess you would need to call those “bignè” (cream puff) final culmination or highlight of the highlight or something along those lines? Despite the fact that by now, physically speaking, you shouldn’t eat anymore or your personal trainer will have a serious talk with you (actually that point may already have passed after the first entry, but hell, it’s simply too tasty and who’s got a personal trainer anyway…), so despite the sheer masses of served delicacies, strangely enough, the dessert still fits in nicely!
But yes, given the amount of food even Alessandro whispered an Italian ‘mamma mia!’ ;-)