Menhir – gourmet and wine at Minervino di Lecce, South Italy

Тази статия може да я прочетете и на: bgБългарски

All walks in Italy eventually lead to food and . For several days in Italy I drank only and water, and a cup of cappuccino in the morning. Even the early lunch starts with and water. And again took us to Minervino di Lecce, a town some 40 km from Lecce in the geographic area of Salento. Like every place in Italy, Salento has its own spirit and mood in terms of cuisine.

San Michele church at Minervino di Lecce, Salento, South Italy
San Michele church at Minervino di Lecce

Osteria Origano

We parked the cars at the small square in Minervino di Lecce, next to the beautiful church San Michele. Near its entrance begins Via Giuseppina Scarciglia. By this street, between the stone facades of the buildings, we headed to number 18 where is the Osteria Origano, owned by the same owner of Menhir Winery from Salento.

Via Giuseppina Scarciglia
Via Giuseppina Scarciglia
Osteria Origano in Minervino di Lecce, Salento, South Italy
Osteria Origano

Our Italian hosts were very happy that we were there. The osteria is not a budget daily place and is usually visited on special occasions. So we prepared for a really special time with food and wine. And despite it was several weeks ago, I still remember this time with pleasure.

Bread before wine

While gathering around the table and the Christmas tree, despite the sunny and warm weather outside, Antonio started to bring different types of bread, focaccia and pittule. Antonino is the food selector of the restaurant. And these photogenic breads were indeed very delicious. Meanwhile, I made Antonio tell me about everything he brought to the table, because I am really very curious.

The interior of Osteria Origano at Minervino di Lecce, Salento, South Italy
The interior of Osteria Origano at Minervino di Lecce, Salento, South Italy

The osteria and the winery are the heart of Minervino di Lecce. Here are happening all kinds of events – concerts, readings, etc. The place is furnished with a lot of style and good taste, like everything in Italy. Italians are very good at making their places cozy. The whole radiance in the osteria is very stylish.

Delicious breads at Osteria Origano
Delicious breads at Osteria Origano
Pittule
Pittule

We were served pittule, I mentioned about them in my article about food in Salento that they are a must on every table in Salento in . These deelicious traditional dough balls, fried in olive oil. Also, we had focaccia with rosemary, a typical bread for Northern Salento.

Focaccia with rosemary
Focaccia with rosemary
Pizzo - another Itallian bread
Pizzo – another Itallian bread

With the bread we were served wonderful olive oil in bowls and I could feed myself only with bread and oil. And for an even better start, then came the sparkling rose wine.

Sparkling rose wine – Rosa (2017)

The rose wine was from Bambino Nero variety, a typical grape variety for Puglia, Sardinia, Basilicata and Lazio areas of Italy. The vineyards for this wine are somewhere around San Dònaci, close to Brindisi. The wine itself was made by the Long Charmat method (Charmat lungo), also known as Italian method for production of sparkling wines. It was actually created by and Italian but named after a Frenchman who patented it. So the grapes stayed with the juice for 6 hours at 8 degrees temperature in order to obtain the pink colour. According to the long Charmat method, the sparkling wine stays in the bottles for a few months to develop the aromas.

Sparkling rose wine - Rosa 2017
Sparkling rose wine – Rosa 2017

With this wonderful artomatic rose wine started our long linch. And the wine was with the colour of a rose, with intensive aromas of flowers and red fruits. I asked Antonio to leave me the bottle because I wanted to know everything about the wine. At this time, we were served the first course.

Egg, onion and topinambur

It is always difficult in South Italy for people not speaking Italian, like me. My Italian friends told me that this was “Uovo, cipollotto e topinambur”. Which means egg, onion and topinambur. The latest is more widely known as Jerusalem artichoke or sunroot, sunchoke, or earth apple. It was a light and very nice meal, pairring perfectly with the sparkling rose.

Egg, onion and topinambur
Egg, onion and topinambur

– the typical local varieties

Primitivo is one of the most typical grape varieties in Salento and they make wonderful wines from it. So if you are in Puglia, Salento or somewhere around, you must try Primitivo. Puglia is actually more known for its food rather than wine, but they have wonderful wine at very good prices. So there is no place for doubt. So, here is it – Pietra, 100 % Primitivo Organic 2016. Red wine, fermented for only 5 days and matured for 6 moths in inox tanks. A wine pairing perfectly with pasta, with ruby colour and flavours of berries. Here it was paired with veal terrine.

Pietra - 100% Primitivo Organic 2016
Pietra – 100% Primitivo Organic 2016

Veal terrine

You may laugh at me but my attempts to understand everything I eat were not very successful. Next time I will ask for everything written, no matter in which language. So here I managed to collect a few keywords – „terrina di manzo con rape fermentate tapioca al finocchietto mostarda di mele e cipoletto“ . It should mean something like a Beef terrine with turnip, fermented tapioca with fennel, and mustard of apples and onions. I am not sure that this bunch of words makes any sense. But as my wife Maria says, “You don’t understand everything even in a Bulgarian gourmet restaurant, do you?”. And she is right. The truth is that I really try hard to understand everything but I can’t always manage. But the important thing is that it was a perfect combination. The fruit mustard appeared to be a popular condiment among Italians, used mostly with meat.

Beef terrine
Beef terrine

Pairing Negroamaro with pasta

The next meal was „cecamariti con stracotto e peperone crusco e finocchietto selvatico“ . Cecamariti is a kind of pasta and “peperone crusco” is a product, typical for South Italty. It is a sweet pepper, dried and fried for a few seconds which makes it crispy. It was once very popular food among shepherds because it is light and easy to carry. Now they are an amazing condiment for pasta.

Delicious pasta
Delicious pasta

No. Zero 2015 Negroamaro IGP – a red wine with flavours of raspberries, blackberries and a little tingling taste. Negroamaro is another typical grape variety for the region and the Menhir vineyards are all around the heel of the boot. This tasting made me think about widening my knowledge about the area.

No. Zero 2015 Negroamaro IGP
No. Zero 2015 Negroamaro IGP

Menhir Winery

The owner of Menhir Winery is Gaetano Marangelli,  a keen traveller. I don’t know whether he has visited Bulgaria and we didn’t have the opportunity to meet him this time. However, I hope someday we will have the chance to meet and talk with him. So, the Menhir Winery makes exclusively local products with high quality and I loved their philosophy and way of work.

Gnummareddi, interiora di capretto e agnello

Gnummareddi is a typical meal in Puglia. It is made of rolled offal from a lamb or a goat. It is always a popular street food in the area.

"Gnummaereddi "
“Gnummaereddi “

This meal, which might sound weird for some, was served with the last wine for our lunch – Calamuri IGP Salento from 100 % Primitivo. Of course, they paired perfectly. The wine has matured for 12 months in barrels. It had nice ruby colour with a bit of garnet, flavours of red berry jam. Wonderful, full-bodied wine.

Calamuri IGP Salento from 100 % primitivo, Menhir winery, Menhir wine cellar
Calamuri IGP Salento from 100 % primitivo, Menhir winery

While eating my sorbet for dessert and enjoying the good service and cozy interior of the restaurant, I thought that I would really like to tell you about this place. If I return there some day, I will write a second article with pleasure.

Sorbet for dessert at Osteria Origano, Menhir winery
Sorbet for dessert at Osteria Origano, Menhir winery

The only thing I was sad about is that I was travelling with only hand luggage and could not buy some bottles of wine to bring home. If you have been there too, I will be happy to hear more about the place. I know it is not a very popular are for tourism but who knows, maybe something has taken you to Salento, too.

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