Giants' Pillows with Bugs Bunny
If you happen to be in Bari or are looking for a reason to go. Here's one. One of the oddest wine lists we've seen in a while with some gems. Very precise modern Pugliese cooking, thankfully still very Pugliese, from Antonio Scalera La Bul (http://www.ristorantelabul.it).
The real tip on this post is the wines, which you might find without going to Bari or Taormina.
First up for the amuse and first 2 courses:
Pierfabio Mastronardi Mammamè Bianco
Verdeca, Bianco d'Alessano e piccole percentuali di varieta' minori - 13% gradi.
Verdeca like you seldom see, good acidity but with great length and balance. Very versatile wine. At around 20 euros in the restaurant, it'll be a bargain to have at home.
It went very well with:
The amuse, whipped fresh ricotta with pepper sauce and honey.
And then even better with:
This was really a surprise. Not a huge fan of mixing more than one "noble" ingredients, I wasn't optimistic. And then, well generally Tuber Aestivum...summer truffles are often too much like Paris winter rains, there's a lot of it but it usually doesn't give a lot of pleasure. But wow, I could have believed they were melanosporum. Apparently they are a local specialty. And the perfect crude di pesce was a subtle supporting vehicle to support the truffle.
Then to follow for the next 2 course and dessert:
Girolamo Russo Etna Bianco ETNA BIANCO D.O.C. Carricante 70%, Altri vitigni Autoctoni 30%: Catarratto, Inzolia, Grecanico, Minnella, Coda di volpe.
We had this in Taormina a bit ago but it was better than remembered. Very much Sicily at its best. Very smart of Francesca to have added it to her wine list to compliment the food of Puglia. Mezzogiornese cooperation.
It went very well with:
Giant orecchiette with rabbit in white sauce. We had been enjoying the wine and the waiter kept struggling a bit with translation for the diverse linguistic groups of guest, so we tried to come up with creative translations and Giants' Pillows with Bugs Bunny was our favorite. And then Lauren mentioned that some the little bits of carrot were nice added touch of irony to the sauce.
The Etna bianco for me went a little less well with:
Perfectly prepared crispy spigola with fresh capers and tomatoes. Just would have much preferred it served before the rabbit. It sort of made the wine seem lesser than it had with the more robust rabbit.
And then to finish:
The Vanilla Baverese semi freddo with Barbary fig, lemon sauce and chestnuts almost perfectly paired with the Nerina to end the meal. I chatted with Antonio for a bit, very good company...he feels he learned a lot from his time with Ducasse. I felt that it is great that after working for Ducasse in Tuscany and Madrid he's still making some great food from the heel of the great boot.
Find the wines if you can.