Wednesday, 9 December 2009

As we arrived into the heel of Italy early yesterday evening, the scenery changed dramatically.

It was like crossing a border to Greece and Tunisia rolled into one. We passed a big natural harbour, where fresh water springs mix with sea water creating a unique blend of water for the sea life of which we sampled last night at the 'La Barca' in Pulsano.

The restaurant was very special indeed! The seafood and presentation was out of this world along with a superb friendly, laid back atmosphere created Saverio Gallione the owner chef! The fish was so fresh and Saverio showed us some of the fish caught that afternoon that we were to eat tonight.

Keeping me company on the table was the director of the San Marzano winery, Filippo, Giorgio (our friend we make Alta Tierra in Chile with), JMS and Anne.

Saverio was placing dishes with a huge range of local specialities all over our table. We tasted some great wines by Filippo from very old vineyards. Filippo joked soon they will be putting "made from old winemakers" not "made from old vineyards"!!!!

This morning though I woke up with the Gulf of Taranto (the instep of the boot of Italy) almost on the hotel doorstep. Filippo is already up and once again raring to go! This morning we are going to the winery in San Marzano. On the way we drive through a maze of 400-year old olive groves and 60-year old vineyards trained on the locally named Alberelo method.

A thorough look around the winery was first on list. JMS and I inspected the facilities and tasted the vats with Filippo, then swiftly up to the tasting room where we met with the president. The tasting room is worth a mention as it looks like a hair salon! But the sinks and flexible showers are just beautiful over the top Italian wine tasting accessories!

The raw blending wines were very good indeed and we were soon through the whites and into the blending of the reds – including the 2009 "Edizione" and a brand new Chai project wine.

The president mentioned that he was a keen fishermen and that the Gulf of Taranto had the best fish in all of the Mediterranean. After last nights meal I certainly agreed with him. Next thing we knew JMS and I had 3kg of line caught fresh sea bass, their eyes still glistening given to us! We divided the fish up, wrapped it in local newspaper and packed it in our suit cases! What a plan; I was going to cook fresh sea bass from the Med in London tonight for Libby!!!


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