Cucina Pugliese Ostuni Celebrates Truffle Season with a Murgia Tartufo Menu
Just a mention of the word ‘truffle’ tends to get me excited. I have to admit though, although I’ve been to Puglia, I didn’t realise that they had their own truffles! Apparently they do, from the Murgia Plateau, a low limestone plateau that is actually a National Park and sits just west of Bari, at the top of the heel of the Italy. These black truffles, tartufo, are being served at Ostuni from October to December 2016 as part of a specially curated tartufo menu that has been developed by owner Rob Claassen.
Having visited Puglia for a trip which was essentially a farm tour and celebration of the produce of the region held at Midsummer (Masseria sotte le stelle), I’m well aware that the produce from this part of Italy is both unique and exceptionally high quality. So I am really looking forward to the menu of delicacies from the region, enhanced by their own local truffles. We are planning to try the frisella di burrata con tartufo (£4.50). Frisella is a special regional bread, dense and made out of a kind of snail shaped circle of dough. This one is apparently cooked in a 150 year old oven before being topped with truffle infused stracciatella burrata and capocollo di Martina Franca with a shaving of fresh black truffle. I’ve had both Burrata from Puglia and Capocollo di Martina Franca before, in Puglia. They are unique products – burrata is a very rich variation of mozzerella, made by ‘buttering’ the cheese as it is formed. And Capocollo is a unique cured meat taken from the neck of a particular type of pig from the Valle d´Itria. And there’s a salad made from shaved white asparagus, celeriac, black radish and pecorino, drizzled with truffle oil, Insalata Crudite con olio tartufo (£7.50).
I’m rather excited that these dishes will be paired with a local wine, actually one from the same part of Puglia where the Capocollo is produced. Locorotondo, Pastini, Valle d’Itria ‘15 is Rob’s recommendation for these antipasti – a delicate, crisp and slightly aromatic white Puglian wine with a mineral balance and a dry, lively character. (£6.50/£19/£27)
Next a pasta course, foglio d’ulivo con burrata stracciatella al tartufo (£9/£16.80). Foglio d’ulivo is a pasta which is shaped to look like an olive leaf. It has a very rough surface, perfect for a creamy burrata and Cardoncelli mushrooms, and elevated further by topping with black truffle shavings.
The alternative pasta dish, orecchiette di grano arso con cima di rapa is another speciality from Puglia. Grano Arso is a kind of flour made from ‘burnt’ grain or flour, so it is a dark brown colour. I’m intrigued – it’s not something I’ve tried before.
Puglian red, Nero di Troia, Duca D’Asoli ’12 is Rob’s recommendation for this dish. (£8/£22/£33).
Finally our main course is Arrosto misto con la bombetta al tartufo (£17.80). A dis of Capocollo pork wrapped around sweet provolone cheese, cardoncelli mushrooms and yet more fresh black truffles, all roasted in Ostuni’s charcoal oven.
I’m really excited. As a south London girl, I hadn’t come across Ostuni until this particular menu drew the restaurants to my attention. There are two – in Queens Park and Highgate – both dedicated to the cuisine and wines of Puglia. I’m more than happy to champion the idea that the food of Puglia is somewhat overlooked in the UK – and will be delighted to sample the truffle menu.
If you’d like to try for yourself, then do book quickly. The menu will be available while the supply of truffles is still available – perhaps till the middle of December if we are lucky. Check the website for more information and to book
Ostuni Restaurant – Queens Park
43-45 Lonsdale Road
Ostuni Restaurant – Highgate
1 Hampstead Lane