Orecchiette, the world’s greatest pasta shape? A wonderful festival in Grottaglie

best recipe orecchiette pastaThere’s a saying in Puglia: when a man learns how to make orecchiette, it’s time for him to leave home and get married.

Orecchiette, the “little ear” macaroni (orecchia means ear in Italian), are the centerpiece of Pugliese cooking. Typically served with tomato sauce and ricotta salata, with small meatballs and tomato sauce, or with broccoli raab and sausage, orecchiette are the backbone of Pugliese gastronomy.

Earlier this week, the beautiful medieval city of Grottaglie (Taranto province) hosted a wonderful orecchiette festival called “Orecchiette nelle ‘nchiosce.”

The festival title comes from Grottaglie’s ‘nchiosce, its winding, narrow streets, porticos, and doorways — literally, orecchiette in the nooks and crannies of the city.

For two days, Monday and Tuesday of this week, leading Pugliese chefs and a handful of Italian film and television stars gathered to celebrate the pasta shape: festival participants followed a “map” of Grottaglie’s best restaurants where they could sample dishes made with orecchiette ranging from the traditional to the avant-garde.

The Negroamaro IGT by Cantele (one of the event sponsors) was chosen as the “best pairing” for orecchiette con crema di pomodoro al forno, melanzane e formaggio dei poveri, oven-fired orecchiette with tomato cream, eggplant, and poor person’s cheese by chef Mario Musci (Gallo Restaurant in Trani in Barletta-Andria-Trani province).

What is formaggio dei poveri or poor person’s cheese, you ask?

It’s toasted bread crumbs.

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the world’s greatest pasta shape or a better pairing for one of our favorite wines.

Image via the Orecchiette nelle ‘nchiosce website.

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