Not content with throwing 7 hours jet lag at me old father time has thrown in the customary move to summer time as well today. So everything is running rather late in this household and we are due out for our first Italian Sunday lunch in five months . I am promised orecchiette as the pasta course so cannot be late.
While away I read an article in the Straits Times about time change and what time zone a country or region should be on in relation to the sun rather than government or in our case here the mighty EU . It was written origionally by an Italian, Stefano Maggiolo, who is now in London ( which young Italian isn’t these days) working for Google .
I was interested because here in Puglia I have always reckoned we are in the wrong zone . Stefano like me ( or so my wife always says) clearly has far too much time on his hands and went into the subject on a worldwide basis .
I was delighted to see that Puglia , because of the way Italy is shaped, is in his green zone ( click to see the map) which means the sun rises too early and sets too early compared to the clocks on our wall. We should be on summer time in the winter and summer plus one in the summer. Think of the savings on the electricity and heating bills in the winter though the real benefit is I could then drive to the bar each evening in the daylight.
Hmm 47 years old when she recorded that. I remember her singing I Got you Babe rather a long time ago.
So back to Benevento. You left me yesterday being royally ripped off in a small bar in the centro storico area. From there it was but a short stroll to the Ristorante Nunzia. Now I am always wary of places recommended by hotel receptionists or hall porters. They are often either on commission ( rather nicely at one hotel on our Asian Safari they had a sign informing guests that they got no commission for recommendations, ho ho) or worse tell you of places they think you want but they as locals would never dream of entering. However the friendly girl at The Antiche Terme spoke no English and said her parents often went there.
The place was packed when we got there and only by moving things around could they squeeze us on to a small table for two. On a sideboard nearby were bottles of wine with prices on tags around each neck. This was the wine list. However they also had a very good Vino della Casa for €7 a litre. Once that was done the lady owner, a generously proportioned Italian lady of indeterminate age, pulled up a spare chair and asked what we wanted to eat. The place has no menu just specials of the day which she listed.
The guys alongside us were tucking into Pure di Fave con Cicoria
basically pureed beans with lashings of olive oil , some greens from the countryside and a pile of fresh baked bread. So we picked the same thing. It made quite a change from soft noodles and fried rice I have to tell you.
The pasta was scarpariello which here was made with home made pasta and a tomato based sauce . Scarpari were or indeed are shoemakers and the dish comes from Naples which boasted hundreds of shoe repair and shoe makers. Many women worked in the shoe industry in Naples and were therefore short of time to prepare lunch for their menfolk. This is one like so many here in Puglia that use ingredients most homes have a ready supply of , tomatoes, olive oil, parmesan cheese, pecorino cheese, fresh basil and fresh parsley. It could be cooked quickly and needed no shopping before hand.
The owner of Nunzia when not taking orders walks about with a large bottle of olive oil made from her own olive trees. This she adds to the plates of any guest she thinks needs more.
The chair is pulled up again for the bill which she runs through with you asking all the time how you enjoyed it. With wine, coffee and grappa it was €35 ( £29 or $48) .
She told us the restaurant has been in her family for 84 years and the fourth generation are now learning the ropes to take over from her when she hangs up her chair and olive oil bottle for the last time.
Well worth a visit and a great place to spend your first night back in Italy after five months. I could almost forgive the cafe bar owner his over charging, but only almost.