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  • Mozzarella in Puglia

    Masseria Torre Cocarro

    Courtyard at Masseria Torre Cocarro

    Views across the beach at Masseria Torre Cocarro

    Restaurant at Masseria Torre Cocarro

    Junior Suite at Masseria Torre Cocarro

    Foodie Holiday Learning about Mozzarella in Puglia

    This holiday offers a rare and fascinating insight into one of our most loved and versatile cheeses: mozzarella. Observe the production of this popular cheese, and taste the Italian dishes in which it is used, before sampling more broadly the rustic cuisine of Puglia. Your host for your five night stay is the Masseria Torre Cocarro, a former traditional Pugliese farm that has been lovingly restored into a picturesque and comfortable hotel. This holiday is available all year round, enjoying the uncompromising climate of Southern Italy and the rotation of Puglia’s excellent seasonal produce.

    Highlights of this food holiday
    This five-night holiday in the Puglia region of southern Italy is available on the dates of your choice and includes the following experiences, all of which take place at or near the Masseria Torre Coccaro.
    • A visit to a Mozzarella farm, where the full process of making the fresh cheese can be observed, and samples can be bought and tasted
    • A visit to the markets of Monopoli, where a wide range of local produce and cuisine can be tasted
    Prices from £1,140 per person including flights, car hire, bed and breakfast, and the experiences mentioned above.

    Your food holiday

    Your arrival at the Masseria Torre Coccaro marks the beginning of your culinary experience of Puglia. The main focus is, of course, on the Pugliese mozzarella, reputedly the best mozzarella in Italy, but there is such a wide range of hearty, homely dishes available in Puglia that it would be a crime to miss. Traditional dishes are characterised by their inclusion of lamb (although, recently increasingly beef), durum wheat, tomatoes, artichokes, beans, and onions. The Pugliese pasta is made without eggs, and usually hand-shaped into Oriecchiette, a little like small ears. The durum wheat used in pasta, and so prevalent in Pugliese cuisine, is also used to make bread, traditionally baked in the communal bread ovens that are still used in some remote rural villages.

    As a fresh cheese, the process behind making mozzarella is quite different to that of some other harder cheeses, such as Parmesan or Gouda, which take months to mature. Because the journey from milk to final product is a remarkably short one, the included tour of the mozzarella farm will witness the full process step-by-step; beginning with the cows and goats whose milk is the primary ingredient. A delicate procedure of exposing the substance to varying temperatures, stretching and knotting ensues, until the mozzarella is produced. The encouraged taste test at the end of the tour will signify the quality of the cheese. This holiday also includes a visit to Monopoli to explore its markets, in which you can taste the world-famous Italian gelato and the focaccia barese. This is a sensory and indulgent experience for the discerning eater who is keen to get to know the roots of the Italian staple cheese that is particularly popular in Britain.

    Your hotel, the Masseria Torre Coccaro, gets its name from the Italian word for ‘farm’. Its situation beside abundant olive groves, fig trees, and a number of other farms makes it the ideal spot from which to examine the culinary delights of Puglia. The restaurant serves the vegetables grown in its own garden alongside the fish and pasta that Puglia is so excellent at producing and serving. The original masseria itself has been beautifully restored and now holds many of the hotel’s bedrooms. It is from the bedroom windows, and from the terraces that the beauty of the agricultural plains of Puglia can be admired.

    The rocky landscape of Puglia is ideal for sheep-farming, and thus the most popular, and most delicious, meat in Puglia tends to be lamb. Consider driving into Cisternino to seek out one of the rosticceria butchers who allow you to choose you desired piece of meat and then cook it in front of you on either a hot charcoal grill or in a wood-burning oven. The proximity to the sea of Savelletri, Bari, and Fasano, means that a lot of the seaside restaurants will specialise in seafood. Fish such as red mullet, anchovies, mussels, sea bass, cuttlefish, and gilt-head bream feature in a number of traditional Pugliese recipes, and are always served unbeatably fresh.

    Many of the cheeses in Puglia, due to the abundance of rural sheep-farming, are made from ovine milk; meaning that cheeses such as pecorino and ricotta are especially good. An intriguing and unique soft cheese that is essential to taste while on your stay in Puglia is the burrata, which originated in Andria and is sometimes referred to as burrata di Andria. This cheese comes in many different forms, but is generally recognised to be a kind of molten mozzarella. The leftovers from mozzarella production are mixed with salted cream and tied up in a sort of knot made of stringy mozzarella. The result is an exceptionally creamy, incredibly indulgent soft cheese that is fairly unique to the region.

    To finish off a meal in Puglia, be sure to try one of the almond-based desserts. These almonds are a key ingredient in many dishes due to the ease with which they grow on the rocky landscape and in the heat. The desserts will typically be served with a sweet honey or fig-concentrate, or a sweetened version of ricotta cheese.

    For cultural days out in the area surrounding your hotel, you may wish to drive out to the village of Alberobello, built with the iconic coned roofs and plaster white walls typical of the local Trulli architectural style. With the fir trees emerging from behind the top of the village, this place really has a fairytale aspect, and is worth visiting just for the memory of walking along the narrow winding streets past the hut-like shops. Closer to the sea, Torre Canne is a popular destination for those looking to soak up the healing properties of its thermal springs. Soul-Running in the Trulli Hills is an activity perfect for those looking to try to Puliese Primitivo wines.

    The fishing village of Savelletri, however, is attractive for its promenade and rustic beach club. Spend one of your days enjoying the sea and exploring the coves, or head further into the village to visit the Archeolido, and see the necropolis and open archaeological sites that are still being excavated. You may also wish to horse-ride on the beach, or dive and sail in the bays of Polignano. Alternatively, you may want to explore the Fasano Valley more freely, taking in the sight of Puglia’s formidable natural landforms.

    We hope that you will leave the Masseria Torre Coccaro with a developed knowledge of Puglia and its regional cuisine, and a strong desire to return and revisit.

    Recommendations for visits in the local area:
    • Monopoli
    • Cisternino
    • Savelletri
    • Trulli Hills
    • Fasano Valley
    • Alberobello
    • Torre Canne Hot Springs

    What’s included:
    • Return flights from London to Bari or Brindisi
    • 5 nights bed and breakfast at the Masseria Torre Coccaro
    • Group A car hire for duration of holiday
    • Visit to a Mozzarella Farm, with full demonstration of cheese-making process
    • Visit to Monopoli markets

    Dates for this holiday
    This holiday operates on any date of your choice, subject to hotel and flight availability at the time of booking. Additional nights here and at any of our other hotels can be arranged.

    £1,140 per person for a 5 night stay.

    To book this holiday
    Deposit payment of £300 per person. Please call us on 01392 441275.

    Where you stay

    Masseria Torre Cocarro
    Savelletri di Fasano
    Located just outside the town of Savelletri, about three kilometres from the sea and a ten-minute drive to the town of Fasano, the Masseria Torre Cocarro is a pretty hotel in the heart of the countryside. Surrounded by olive groves and fig trees and a number of old masseries, or farms, the landscape is particularly beautiful. This hotel has the perfect balance of modernity and rustic simplicity. The restaurant uses the large garden to grow its own vegetables, and cuisine here is very much Pugliese, with fish, pasta, and these vegetables as the predominant ingredients. The Masserie Torre Cocarro also runs cookery course for guests who wish to enhance their culinary skills. There are a number of communal areas, such as reading rooms and lounges inside, and a restaurant, swimming pool, and attractive bar outside. However, the real focal point of this property is the original masseria, which has been faithfully and lovingly restored. Most of the bedrooms are housed in a fairly new building which blends seamlessly into its surroundings. Bedrooms are very spacious and reflect the original style of the masseria; most also have their own private terrace and a garden overlooking olive trees. Two suites resemble caves and underground niches. A small underground spa is set in a natural cave, complete with indoor pool, Turkish bath, fitness room, and available massages and other treatments. Three kilometres away is a private beach, equipped with sushi bar and fish restaurant. Guests can also hire a motorised yacht and crew for day trips along the coast. The Masseria Torre Coccaro superbly captures the character of an old masseria, while still remaining an excellent hotel of very high quality.
    Find out more about Masseria Torre Cocarro.

    Mozzarella in Puglia
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