One of the many joys I derive from being a food blogger is learning, either through my own explorations or by having people bring me fresh information on things unfamiliar to me, about new venues where food is being treated with respect. Recently, I’ve been thus informed once again. In Italy, situated in the heart of the Capitanata, is a recently-renovated small-holding called the Agriturismo Al Celone. Fabiana Magri recently earned my enduring gratitude by letting me in on all the delicious things happening there.
“Agriturismo” is a portmanteau that combines the words for “agriculture” and “tourism” in Italian. It refers to a style of vacationing on farmhouse grounds that have been fashioned into resorts and that serve their guests foods prepared from raw materials produced on the farm and/or locally.
Refined and informal, and contemporary in style, the Agriturismo Al Celone takes its name from the nearby river that runs for over seventy kilometers through the county of Foggia. In not one, but three stylish dining rooms, Chef Dario Perrella has created a menu serving classic Puglian dishes accompanied by the region’s best wines.
From an article sent to me by Fabiana Magri:
“The restaurant offers a culinary voyage through the flavours both of the county and the region. One specialty is the ‘tuna pork’, an exquisite dish made from succulent pork which is marinated and slowly cooked until it takes on the appearance of tuna fillet. Some of our other dishes include an aubergine terrine, made with buffalo mozzarella and served on a coulis of fresh tomato or the veal carpaccio, thinly sliced pieces of cured succulent meat served with mixed sauté vegetables. We haven’t forgotten the traditional dishes such as ‘acquasale’ (literally ‘watersalt’), a delicious and fresh mix of toasted bread, onions, tomatoes and garlic, laced with the freshest olive oil, certainly one of the most humble and traditional specialties of the area.
The first courses comprise a fresh risotto made with asparagus and almonds, crunchy phyllo parcels filled with pistachio nuts, pancetta and soft ricotta, or the local, thick hand-made spaghetti which becomes a delicious courgette carbonara, the wide tubes of ‘paccheri’ pasta served with aubergine mousse and rich flavoured cacioricotta cheese or even pappardelle pasta with a fresh julienne of vegetables and sun-dried tomatoes.
The second courses are equally appetizing and apart from char-grilled fresh meats and vegetables it is well worth trying a slice of caciocavallo cheese on the grill served with oregano and pancetta, a veal fillet perfumed with thyme and lemon, the ‘tagliata’ grilled beef which is then sliced to let the delicious juices run and served with an asparagus sauce. There is also the ‘piccata’ of pork, a succulent fillet wrapped in crispy breadcrumbs, quickly fried and accompanied by a saffron sauce. We also have some special dishes that combine the traditionally separate Italian first and second courses. One such is the spicy chili wheat which partners delicious chicken wings, coated with flakes of maize then fried or try our tender slices of veal with barley salad. We’re also famous for our succulent home-made burgers which of course come in a home-made bun. Each is served with fresh lettuce, tomato and a choice of crispy bacon or soft mozzarella cheese.”
Want more info about what sounds like quite the degustatory destination for lovers of food, travel, and nature? I know I did. Here’s where I found it:
You can also find “al Celone” on the website of Regione Puglia (http://www.viaggiareinpuglia.it/), on the guide “Bere e Mangiare in Capitanata” and on the App “Dormire e Mangiare in Italia” by Touring Editore (www.touringclub.com).