Apulia – discovering Puglian cuisine (and Hamlet)
A couple of weeks ago, I experienced something very magical. It was an afternoon of passion, drama, murder, intrigue, and revenge, and I owe it to one man: William Shakespeare.
OK fine, two men. William Shakespeare and Benedict Cumberbatch. An unbeatable combination.
Yes, I am one of the lucky people who managed to score tickets for Hamlet at the Barbican this year, and it was everything I had hoped for, and more. When Shakespeare is done well, it makes me go weak in the knees, and I am stunned at the effect of his words. It’s very difficult to describe how the play made me feel, so I won’t even try. Instead, I’ll tell you about the meal we went for afterwards!
We knew we would need an in-depth analysis after the play, so my flatmate promised to find us a restaurant nearby. As I was still doing vegetarian September, the only caveat I gave her was that there should be some veggie options on the menu, upon which she booked Apulia. She’s a keeper, that one.
As we had tickets for the matinee, dinner was rather early, and it took some time for the kitchens to open. Undeterred, we started off with a variety of cocktails, which were delicious, and not too pricy (for London, that is!).
This also meant we had more time to peruse the menu, and we certainly made use of it. Hopping between dishes, changing our minds a least ten times, everything sounded phenomenal and by the time the kitchens opened, we still weren’t completely sure what to order!
We finally decided to share some starters: the octopus carpaccio, the antipasti platter, and the oven-baked caciocavallo cheese. Our first choice had actually been the burrata (a relatively new discovery for me, and one perpetuated by my trip to Rome), but unfortunately, they had run out. A reason to go back, I think…
The service throughout the evening was good, though not stellar. However, we were so busy discussing the beauty of Shakespeare’s words that anything else probably would have hindered us! But by the time the mains came around, we were ready for a new conversation topic, which mostly involved planning a trip to Puglia. If this is what their food is like… it’s inevitable.
The flavour combinations were unusual, but they perfectly complemented each other. I bravely ordered a dish with cheese in the title (the Fancy Ass Dinner Party taught me that Taleggio is a good cheese for me), and it was divine. A mixture of sweet and savoury, but tending towards savoury as is my preference, the pumpkin ravioli exceeded all expectations and made me glad to be vegetarian, as I never would have ordered it if I had been eating meat! I loved the crunchy walnuts and the slightly tart cheese, and the ravioli itself was perfectly al dente.
Unfortunately, this also meant I couldn’t taste any of the dishes my friends had ordered (which is normally the best part about going out to eat with a group of people), but the moans, nods, and general smiles around the table made it clear that Apulia had satisfied, and exceeded, expectations. The prices were not unreasonable considering the quality of the food, but I will plan my next trip around a special occasion, as it’s a bit too pricy for a normal day.
50 Long Lane, EC1A 9EJ