Trecchina almost on Basilicata’s West Coast, close to Maratea is renowned for its fine sour dough bread. There are an assortment of bakeries selling from semi industrial to truly artisan loaves. I chose those that I liked the best to bring home for a tasting.
One was outstandingly love at first right for me. However l tried each one, trying to remain unbiased, surprisingly they were all quite different from the colour of the crust to quality of the crumb. My favourite was from Arena who have been baking bread for over 100 years. An amazingly crisp, hollow sounding crust, perfumed by the wood oven, inside the slow rise had created big gaps and a chewy crumb, full of flavour. As sour dough is made from the mother yeast, some dough kept from the day before, l imagined the original mother yeast of this bread being over 100 years old. Maybe originating from the time of the First World War.
Bread is obviously not so much an ingredient but an amazing accompaniment to many a dish. Following the film Basilicata Coast to Coast and Paulo Briguglias ode to his mother l made Pane e Frittata di Mia Mama, an omelette sandwich to us. It has to lay together long enough for the two components to meld together as one.
The finest partner to homemade sausage cooked on a wood fire is a slice of sour dough bread. The sausage glistening with fat, coloured red by the local pepper powder sits atop of the bread, its juice soaking in to create a classic dish of the South.
Pane Pomodoro is also an important staple in the diet here. Often eaten in the evening it is slices of bread bathed in the juice and seeds squeezed from fresh tomatoes. Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a sprinkle of salt; a simple, but delicious supper. Ground to crumbs it has many uses. I mixed them with ground Pistachio nuts from San Mauro Forte and lemon rind to make a crust for fish, chicken, or pork fillet. The Porcini Arancini l made were also rolled in these breadcrumbs before frying.
Lastly they are a delicious alternative to cheese when fried lightly in Evo and sprinkled into pasta dishes. In fact it is known as 'the cheese of the poor. I discovered the area is also famous for chestnuts and l bought this amazing liquor, Creme de Castagna, it made me think of Baileys, with things of coffee and cover in a dreamy chestnut base. Delicious.