Dear Readers I am posting from the plane over the Atlantic :-) Here is part 4 of the day the disco broke down
Exhausted, nauseated, and suffering from a sudden case of cat shat fever our group of weary birthday revelers had made it to and from Lecce, eaten like queens, and now roamed the industrial back-streets of Monopoli in a scorching summer sun in order to return home to prepare for one of Puglia's, if not Italy's, greatest dinners (and values) at the gem of Triggianello: Braceria da Matteo.
Puglia is home to a great dining institution called Il Fornello, which is basically a butcher shop where you select your cuts of meat and they actually grill your selection for you while you wait or more commonly these days, you actually sit and enjoy the meat at very spartan tables along with some simple sides and very pedestrian local wines. The Braceria da Matteo in the bustling hamlet of Triggianello (population approx.200) takes the fornello concept to new heights and I will offer a detailed full review of the experience in a future blog as we will never make it to the disco breakdown if I start going on and on about one of my favorite dining experiences on the planet.
After some quality time in the shower while the office cat relaxed in the bidet, I was getting closer to ready for dinner. We all climbed in the trusty van and zoomed along the ridge-line towards Conversano from Monopoli which is a stunning drive featuring rolling elevation changes, ancient olive trees, nearly abandoned dwellings that appear to have simply emerged from the limestone, and sweeping vistas that indicate just how special the rustic beauty of this landscape can be if you simply go 10 minutes from the city centers. We arrived in Triggianello and as usual we were greeted by small groups of locals sitting in front of pale yellow and orange 19th century homes relaxing in lawn chairs and gossiping incessantly staring at our van and group of travelers like we were Cortes landing for the first time on the shores of the Yucatan. Within a few seconds we rounded one last blind corner and before our wandering eyes did appear, the bright lights of Da Matteo and their kegs of artisan beer. Triggianello basically has one square and old Matteo (an awesome Italian dude with an equally cool family) owns the Pizzeria and the Braceria both bearing the da Matteo moniker. We parked the van (in front of someone's house I am sure) and walked slowly, being drawn by the glow of the outdoor facing jewelry case of meat as if it was the Eye of Sauron. We all knew this birthday party was about to get right in a hurry.
Dinner was simply gorgeous and although I ate much less than my normal intake at Da Matteo due to lingering Lecce fatigue, I still did my best to recharge for the coming disco experience with a couple of pints of great beer (Italy has really jumped on the craft brew bandwagon and you know when it comes to food or wine, the Italians never take it lightly and they are crafting some killer stuff) some unbelievable carpaccio, and the best grilled meats this side of Brazil.