Guest review: why Julian’s cooking holiday in Puglia is THE best vacation he’s ever had

Making orecchiette pasta with an Italian chef

Julian with one of the local chefs

Our Organic cookery holiday in Puglia is not your typical Italian cookery holiday, as food fanatic Julian found out earlier this month.

Calling the experience was one of ‘one of THE best vacations I have had’, Julian left the 5-star Masseria accommodation, not only with newfound cookery skills and family recipes but a great passion for the Masseria’s farmland philosophy.

And most importantly, fantastic new friends and memories to last a lifetime.

Read about some of Julian’s cookery holiday highlights here, or head over to his blog to read his full blog post…

Julian’s cooking holiday in a nutshell

The last 8 days have been a real adventure seeing the sights of Puglia and learning about the food culture.

Not to mention having a pop star as a guide and interpreter, going to an ex-pat birthday party and chilling out with a great bunch of guys at Doppio Passe, Angelo’s private bar.

On being a solo traveller

authentic masseria accommodation in Puglia

The masseria accommodation

I was the only guest attending the cooking course as it was early in the season so I was in for a real treat as they had prepared a bespoke course just for me.

My ‘driver’ interpreter Angelo was a really fantastic guy who I now regard as a great friend.

As the only person doing the cookery course, he went out of his way to make sure I had a fantastic time. As well as being around in the evenings to make sure I had company.

Cookery holiday highlights

The location

Italian farmland in Puglia with wildflowers

Masseria’s farmland

My accommodation at Masseria Montenapoleone = Heaven In the Middle Of Nowhere

OMG, it was an amazing place. This is NOT a tourist destination. It has charm and tranquillity, just what I needed.

The communal nature of the Masseria enables you to interact with people from other countries in a way that would not happen on a typical holiday, which I really enjoyed.

The staff at the Masseria

Giuliano is the owner and he joined us for over an hour to explain the history of the Masseria. He also answered any questions I had about farming, organic systems and agro-tourism in general.

Giuliano is an amazing host, he joined us over dinner for a while later and continued to explain his philosophy and about his love for food and wine.

The farmland and tasting fresh herbs

Giuliano explained how the Masseria had been purchased 9 years ago after 45 years of neglect and pointed out the different areas and their crops.

We were stood by a ‘wild area’ which supported the most fragrant thyme, rosemary and wild rocket.

We picked some, brushed off the dust and ate some, more bitter than the farmed stuff we get, but just amazing to be able to taste something so fresh and wild.

The dinner at Braceria Fasano

This place is a local butchers and restaurant. On the menu was an aperitif (selection of dishes), including beef carpaccio, cured ham, taralli (little round baked savoury snacks), polpette (little meatballs made of pork and beef) and olives, they were all delicious.

As it was getting late, we had a small taster for mains, some local sausages; liver, spicy and pork, all delicious too.

Dessert was a couple of homemade cake slices, one with vanilla custard and the other chocolate. Limoncello finished the meal off nicely.

The dishes we cooked

Cornaletti Verdi Fritti finished dish

Cornaletti Verdi Fritti

Just some of the amazing things we made included:

  • Purea Di Fave
  • Cornaletti Verdi Fritti
  • Zucchine Alla Poverella
  • Strascinate alla Rucola Pesto
  • Anna-Rita’s Torta al Cioccolate
  • Polpette Di Carne
  • Artichoke Risotto
  • Torta Della Nonna

Making lemon tart and Limoncello

We went into the garden and picked the most amazing lemons fresh of the trees for the tart and Limoncello.

The skins were quite thick and Giuliano made a simple salad, removing the centre and dressing the skin/pith with olive oil. It was just unbelievably tasty.

We peeled the skins for the Limoncello and added some of the leaves from the trees which add some colour.

Shopping for fresh produce at the market

Before one of my cookery lessons, Angelo took me to the fruit and veg wholesale market as he had to pick up produce for his own restaurant.

The selection available was the best I have seen with massive peppers, chicory (not the sort we see in the UK) globe cucumbers and a whole host of other ingredients.

This trip is not on the normal cooking school itinerary but was a special treat for me. Thanks again Angelo!

Maura’s birthday party

Torta al Cioccolato in an Italian restaurant

Torta al Cioccolato

Chef Maura lives in the hills above Fasano and moved over here a view years ago after she fell in love with Puglia. I can understand why.

The culture, way of life, and passion for food is something I have not felt a strong as the many wonderful places I have been fortunate to visit over the years.

Maura, thank you for a truly wonderful evening!

Has Julian inspired you to learn to cook like a true Italian?

This holiday is no longer available but you can join Puglia native, Rita, on her cookery holiday in Puglia.

Or feel free to browse our full range of Italian cookery holidays.