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Salento Diary

This morning I attended another agro meeting: 30-40 local farmers (almost all young) interested in composting and vermiculture. One of the group led the discussion which took place in the ruins of a masseria set next to a vineyard that he rents (negroamaro and other varietals). He suggested that Italy was 20 years behind the States in this regard and I guess I agree. No Will Allen here yet, though perhaps one of this group will become that. The simple fact that these sorts of events are happening, spontaneously and independently, must be a good thing. The wine too was good.

Then we went for an excellent lunch at a nearby restaurant, Le Stanzie ( The setting was hard to beat: a beautifully restored masseria set on a slope among olives (of course) and other crops just getting a start on the growing season. The cellar included the old frantoio/olive press and in an excavation still deeper there were remnants of an even older one. I’m not sure of the date but as a frame of reference the original tower at the masseria where I am staying is estimated to be from the 12th century. Lunch started with ceci nere (black chick peas) and guanciale cooked in a ceramic pot in the open hearth. There followed an array of appetizers: pane cotto, pureed fava beans, fresh ricotta, an artichoke tart, a potato tart and so on. Then two excellent paste, both hand made, one with artichokes and sausage and the other a tomatoe sauce. We were about done at that point but managed a grilled sausage and tossed salad, followed - there was no menu and really no point in protesting - by raw fennel and orange, an array of desert samples, and a choice of amari. Most of the above was accompanied by a hearty and serviceable local red wine. A perfect meal in some ways and really no point in thinking about another one today.

Le Stanzie

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