Posted May 3, 2011
Our last experience of driving around the towns near Bari in Puglia involved hotels which weren't open till later in May, closed restaurants and local youth playing chicken on their skateboards in front of the French registered car we were driving. I was so glad we did not hit one as there was a certain amount of menace in the air. This is a part of Italy where the traffic lights just flash orange - presumably as people do what they like anyway.
Last year we had tasted an oil which stopped us in our tracks (and you'd understand that we have tasted a few in the 18 years of Sabato) so decided we'd steel ourselves and venture to Molfetta, home to our two latest oils Goccia di Sole (drops of the sun) and Etichetta Verde (green label). Neither name really lends themselves to marketing in English, but the quality of the product makes the selection of them worthwhile.
Molfetta is a seaside town near Bari with an impressive harbour, a number of churches and lots of beautiful white stone. The first hints of civilisation were in 5BC and the many churches were built in the 12th century.
Arriving on a Sunday night, we ventured down to 'centro' noticing it was a town of skilled nose-to-tail parkers and shoe shops which were still open at 7pm, so not the town of the ill shod dusty daredevils we encountered last time.
We found a friendly trattoria and obviously dined very early by local standards, as we had the place to ourselves until we had almost finished. We emerged about 9:30pm into a sea of cars and what looked like rush hour, with those not in cars on foot or in push chairs.
It seemed the whole town was out and about with a band playing as well. WHAT was going on? Was this taking the spirit of community to a new level?
Then we spied a huge screen with quite an audience outside the seminary showing a giant statue of Christ being carried in a procession from earlier in the day, probably in Rome -and the penny dropped. This was the week before Easter so not the usual Sunday night.
We were later told that with all the wax from lit candles dripped on the flagstones in the many Easter processions you really have to look where you put your feet in the following weeks.
This is also a place of the freshest seafood, vegetables and olive oil. Our suggestion of just a 'light' lunch the following day was interpreted as us meaning only four courses - with 'light' being seafood, not meat - and we encountered a few crustaceans we had not met before - all enhanced by a drizzle of the delicious oil.
'Goccia di Sole' is a cooperative of local farmers founded in1963 and the eponymous oil is produced from the two varieties of local olives they judge best for oil: Oligarole Barese and Coratina . Goccia di Sole is made by the Sinolea method, the same method used by Marina Colonna, so is the free juice of olives before any pressure is applied. It has won well regarded recent national awards. Ettichetta Verde is extracted by centrifuge. Both have very low oleic acid levels of 0.3% with the Goccia di Sole offering higher polyphenols - so both quality and value for money are offered here on both. These oils are both rich and luscious with hints of artichokes and lend themselves to any application. Carmela, the totally stunning tall dark Southern beauty who was showing us around, says she even uses it to heal burns and drizzles it on everything.
Definitely one to try. Look forward to other products grown by the farmers in this cooperative.
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