Basilicata on my mind: Eating at Parco Verde (Grumento Nova)

I saw the film “Basilicata Coast to Coast” (see link to a youtube trailer at the end of this post)  when it came out a few years ago and was utterly charmed by its unlikely storyline and its picaresque characters.  I also felt, not for the first time, that Italy does a great job at seducing and fascinating if one has the patience to gaze beyond the clichés  — and that, for all the modernity that has changed the course of its recent history, the interwoven cultural subtexts of many centuries ago continue to play peek-a-boo with the present, almost in defiance of our current timeline.

I had never been to the Region of Basilicata, in Southern Italy, before … but now I know that I shall return there, to see more of it.  Francis Ford Coppola ‘returned’ there … in a way … to do up an old estate, Palazzo Margherita, in the town of Bernalda, from where his grandfather had emigrated so many years ago; his daughter got married there last year (http://www.elizabethminchilliinrome.com/2012/05/palazzo-margherita-basilicata.html).  The Dalai Lama visited recently and Irish Nobel-Prize winner Betty Williams has helped to set up the City of Peace for Children in Scanzano Ionico (http://www.urbanitaly.com/people/scanzano-jonico-city-of-peace.html).  And the town of Matera is short-listed to be Europe’s City of Culture for 2019 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matera).

Quite a lot of name dropping for such a region of Italy that does not normally catch the attention of the media.  Now, also, that Basilicata has hit oil and that the petrol company ENI stepped in to drill the oil … I can see that we shall be hearing a lot more about Basilicata over the years to come.

Anyway, I recently accompanied my husband on a business trip there and though we slept in Matera, we also visited  Bernalda and Grumento Nova.  Grumento was our last stop on our way home and it coincided with the night of the football finals, with Italy playing against Spain.  Italy, as we all know, lost 4-0 … and the game would have been sheer torture to endure had it not been for the boon of one of the nicest, truly good, meals of my life.

My husband and I and our friends enjoyed this gorgeous meal at  an ‘agriturismo’ called Parco Verde (www.agriturismoparcoverde.it) that boasts a large and majestic oak tree that is over 600 years old – beat that!  We had booked in advance and were greeted, advised by, looked after and entertained by owner Stefano, whilst brother-in-law Walter and Ivana cranked the food out smoothly in the kitchen.  Below you will see photos of the dinner we ate (well, most of it) and I do so hope you too will one day be able to partake of all that this very hospitable inn has to offer, not the least of which is the unsullied countryside close to the lake Pertusillo and the whole of the region of Val d’Agri.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcjVhhGmTzc&feature=related

The thinnest slices of pineapple host equally slim slices of delicious capocollo (dry cured meat from the shoulder of the animal).

Parmigiana of aubergines …

What do the words ‘cold cuts’ and these beauties have in common, is my cri de coeur? … surely we need to come up with a neulogism to better describe the silky seductiveness of this dainty dish?

Salad.  And I am a great lover of salads.  And this was a great love of a salad with toasted breadcrumbs on top.

Ricotta cheese and some jam … bliss.  Decidedly one of the best ricotta I’ve ever had the fortune to taste.

This pasta is called ‘mischiglio’ and is made up of four different flours: broadbean (fava), barley, chickpea and buckwheat.

Here it is (bad photo, sorry) served with the lucanica sausage sauce.

And here it is served with a sauce made up of salted ricotta and the peppers known as ‘cruschi’, that are to be found only in Basilicata.  Their name is pure onomatopoeia for the crunch factor they provide.  These peppers are sun dried for two months and then ever-so-briefly deep fried in olive oil and are as crispy as crisps! I can’t tell you how more-ish they are …

Someone ordered these “Spaghetti all’Antica Roma” consisting of olives from Gaeta, walnuts, chilli pepper, lemon, garlic, olive oil, capers and a modern rendition of the Ancient Roman anchovy-based ‘garum’ sauce.

Somebody else ordered meat-filled ravioli served in a pesto sauce made up of: almonds, walnuts, pine kernels and a little bit of tomato and garlic, served coated in an olive oil and cheese sauce.

And these ravioli were served in a tomato sauce using shallots and yellow and red capsicum/bell peppers.

All of them on one plate … as a degustation of sorts.

Stefano smiling … and well he might, because he had some very happy customers that night!  Thank you Stefano, thank you Walter and thank you Ivana.

Their products can be bought online –  see their website http://www.agriturismoparcoverde.it/ita/web/nav.asp?nav=34

Trailer for film “Basilicata Coast to Coast” – (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLZh1rVLpRo)

Advertisements

About myhomefoodthatsamore

Community celebration via food, wine and all beautiful things.
This entry was posted in Places to eat, Travel and Tales, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Basilicata on my mind: Eating at Parco Verde (Grumento Nova)

  1. Libby Morris says:

    Love this, Jo!! Can’t wait to visit sometime on one of our adventures… the food looks amazing… pineapple and capocollo – wow!!!

  2. Valentina says:

    I am so happy to know that someone in the world knows about Basilicata or Lucania. My father’s family comes from there and even though Mel Gibson filmed the “Passion Of Christ” in Matera, the region is till not well-known. The food in that region of Italy is a hidden treasure. If you have time, please check out the article I wrote about the memory of food based on my experience in Lucania with my grandpa. http://valentinaexpressions.com/2011/01/19/the-memory-of-food-by-valentina-cirasola-author-and-designer/
    I can smell your food. Thank you for stopping by my design blog.

    • I read your design blog regularly! And you are absolutely right, Basilicata is not well known or appreciated enough. I look forward to returning very much!

      • Valentina says:

        Many parts of Italy are still not well-known to foreigners. To think the country has been there for centuries! Thank you so much for reading my blod. Tale care, Valentina

  3. With both my parents coming from San Mauro Forte in the Basilicata region, my roots lie deep in this fabulous part of Italy. Spectacular scenery courtesy of the mountain ranges and of course you have the famous sassi of Matera and the spooky town of Craco! Not to mention wonderful people and the best fresh food in the south!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s