Breakfast at the Malù B&B in Polignano was out on the third floor balcony overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Fishing boats dotted the water, some trolling back and forth, back and forth, others content to slowly bob in the calm sea, waiting for their prey to be lured to them. The Italians do a funny breakfast from our Canadian standards; granted, they had some hard-boiled eggs and toast – likely only for the benefit of Brits and North Americans – but the main features are pastries, cakes, even a big platter of tiramisu on one morning. Nevertheless, all is forgiven due to the excellent coffee that can be had pretty much anywhere at any time. More on coffee later. I think I will have to dedicate an entire post to it.
We went to a meeting in Bari on Sunday morning (hoped for English but got Italian instead), and went for lunch after. In a small seaside town between Bari and Polignano, we found Ristorante Zia Teresa, a familial joint with no walls, open to the salty breeze off the sea. It had been recommended to T&D by an friend of theirs that grew up in this town. An old man in the corner of the restaurant, cigarette dangling from his lips, shucked oysters and gutted fish and laid i frutti di mare on ice to display to the patrons, who in turn, if they so desired, could select the fish they wanted for lunch.
Our waitress, who spoke a little English and coincidentally said she would be going to visit relatives in Vancouver this month, was impressed that we ordered an antipasti plate of frutti di mare crudo (raw fruits of the sea). She said tourists never order that, and only some Italians do. So is that a good or bad thing? Were Tim and I setting ourselves up for digestive disaster?
The plate of raw shellfish and octopus arrived (see pics below). We hesitated but a moment, and then dug in. A plate of cooked prawns and squid followed, the squid again fresh as can be and grilled to perfection, not rubbery at all. Erica, our gluten-free-ist, had a plate of flavourful porcini risotto, which even I, a confirmed mycophobe, had to admit was not bad. I had a plate of seafood medley pasta made up of mussels, squid, shrimp, and clams in a light dressing of tomatoes and garlic. Again, all was fresh and cooked just right. Tim and I had our appetites on into the afternoon and evening, which is a testament to how fresh the seafood was.
It was a great lunch, surrounded by Italian families out for their post-church-service meal. The room was loud and boisterous, even with no walls to keep in the sound, and the bright sunny day lent it a warm glow that left us content to linger over that last glass of chilled wine.