And yet we were miles and miles away from the southern region of Puglia and the marvelous cooking that it’s known for. Ok, this is one of those rare occasions where we ignored the #1 rule of thumb for attending food festivals: go only to those that feature a local specialty or food crop. The why is this – when that rule is kept in mind, we notice a heavier focus on promoting community traditions and that makes any sagra far more interesting in local color and flavor.
Rules, of course, are going to be broken when the calender shows the last sagra attended was more than 3 months ago. This pugliese sagra in Senago (Milan) counts its 3rd edition and while the food was a far cry from what we’ve had in Puglia, it was cheap, fast, and filling.
Making reservations for a sagra is still a little weird to me but we did so anyway to play it safe. There was only one woman(!) available to greet, seat, and hand customers a menu that you fill out yourself and take to the cashier to pay up.
Antipasti: impepata di cozze, lampascioni (those onion-looking things to the right) and taralli.
3 primi: riso, patate e cozze (rice, potato and mussel dish), spaghetti alla tarantina (pasta with tomato sauce and a couple of mussels), and orecchiette alle cime di rapa (pasta with broccoli rabe). Heavy on the carbs and everything tasted good enough although it wouldn’t have hurt to include more mussels in the 2nd dish and more cime di rapa in the last dish.
2nd plate: caciocavallo alla piastra (grilled caciocavallo cheese). Caciovallo means “cheese on horseback” and it has a smooth, firm texture that when grilled, turns into a piece of delicious cheese that stretches as you pull it apart.
Dessert: carteddàte, an intricately decorative fried pastry in vin cotto (cooked grape must). It’s interesting to look at but was too sweet for my taste. We also ordered a bottle of pugliese wine to go with the meal – Primitivo di Manduria. Not bad for a total of 45€ but next time I’m sticking to rule #1!