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  • Thank you to Il Brutto in Austin for a great wine dinner (and FANTASTIC orecchiette)!

    Paolo Cantele just completed a whirlwind trip through the U.S. working with the estate’s new American importer Winebow.

    He literally crisscrossed the country, visiting more than 12 cities along the way.

    In Texas alone, he hit three cities, including Austin, the state capital, where he hosted a wine dinner at one of the city’s hottest new Italian restaurants, Il Brutto.

    Executive chef Erind Halilaj’s team totally nailed the traditional Pugliese menu they served that night, including the classically prepared housemade orecchiette (above) — one of Puglia’s signature pastas.

    Man, this dish was spot on: From the al dente texture of the hand-rolled pasta to the gentle seasoning of the tomato sauce and the coarse shredding of the fresh ricotta, Paolo noted that this one the most authentic Puglisese dishes he’s ever eaten in America. The pairing with the Cantele Chardonnay was only topped by the Salice Salentino with grilled lamb, another Pugliese standby.

    General manager and wine director Charity Sadoy’s Italian list is so thoughtful and balanced, remarked a wine writer who attended the event, with selections that reflect her deep knowledge of and inspired passion for Italian wine. So many sommeliers go for the funky and the off-beat these days. Charity’s program captures what’s great about Italian wine today — from the traditional to the experimental. And the bar makes a pretty mean Negroni, too!

    Thank you, Il Brutto, for one of the best nights of the trip!

    Il Brutto
    1601 E. 6th St.
    Austin TX 78702
    (512) 580-8779
    Google map

  • Puccia: Salento’s “anything goes” sandwich

    Just like every time our English-language blogger visits the winery, he asks to be taken for a puccia — Salento’s famous “anything goes” sandwich (above).

    Across the city of Lecce, you can find sandwich shops that serve just one type of sandwich: The puccia (pronounced POO-chah), a made-on-the-spur-of-the-moment flatbread that can be stuffed with a wide variety of ingredients.
    Continue reading Puccia: Salento’s “anything goes” sandwich

  • Sottocuoco: A new app from Lecce that connects food lovers with chefs and home cooks.

    Earlier this month, Paolo Cantele and Cantele’s English-language blogger attended the launch of a new and truly innovative app called Sottocuoco in Lecce (Salento, Puglia).

    The concept is as simple as it is brilliant: The app allows users (known as forchette or forks) to connect with professional chefs and home cooks who, for a fee, will either deliver a meal to your home or visit your home to prepare a meal in your own kitchen.

    The start-up was inspired by a new trend that is spreading rapidly across Italy and Europe: Mostly through word-of-mouth, career chefs and food professionals have been making extra money by working as private chefs and caterers; and talented home cooks, who abound in Italy where creative and traditional home cooking is considered much more than just a pastime, have been following in the footsteps of their career and professional counterparts.

    Not only is the concept so promising and appealing that it has attracted major investment from Italian venture capitalists, but it has also received an endorsement from one of Italy’s leading high tech pioneers, Matteo Achilli, who has been dubbed the “Italian Mark Zuckerberg” by the Italian media.
    Continue reading Sottocuoco: A new app from Lecce that connects food lovers with chefs and home cooks.