a night in puglia (almost)

massimo hard at work

i had an especially wonderful dinner last week. the food was phenomenal, but i'll get to that in a bit. it was in an intimate setting, with a small group of people who are extremely excited about food and wine (of which they brought many bottles to share). we mingled while we watched a humble and passionate cook and his assistant prepare a stunning amount of food but at a leisurely pace. massimo bruno welcomed us, individually, into his food studio, and really made us feel at home.

roasted oyster mushrooms fior di latte with tomatoes, and capocollo 

bass in a salt bath 

he shared his vision for the night: to have us enjoy the food, help ourselves to the wines, ask questions, and eat together like a family. he shared his reason for cooking only italian food, and even then, sticking to regions he was familiar with: the food of each region is unique and he feels most familiar, connected and knowledgeable about his own, having learned his art from his family. on this particular night, the food of puglia was showcased, and some dishes were reminiscent of food he was served as a child, as opposed to meals known to represent puglia. the best part was that he shared these stores, the recipes and the techniques. great techniques that massimo mentioned so casually. i learned a lot of little tricks, like slowly cooking and constantly stirring a frittata mixture that includes breadcrumbs and cheese so that it becomes almost dense and cooks completely on the stove.

just the antipasti!

the picture above shows you only the antipasti, which was followed by two primi, two secondi, a light as air ricotta dessert, and much more of that wine i spoke of. but the meal was timed perfectly and we had a chance to mill about, take pictures, chat and watch massimo create these absolutely delicious dishes. the ingredients were so fresh and of great quality, as expected. the finished plates looked simple but vibrant and totally tempting. they tasted even better. in the end we lingered for four hours by candlelight, as the sun set, enjoying the experience fully, feeling very happy and very lucky.

communal tables in massimo's studio