At La Grande Quercia, dishes follow season cycle, so menus change according to the produce available. Don’t forget to ask for their signature lamb dish, “agnello incaporchiato” [anyello incaporkiato]. It requires a few ingredients: a leg of lamb, extra-virgin olive oil, white wine, rosemary, a couple of cloves of garlic.
This recipe comes from the old days when people did not have meat very often, so when there was the chance to cook it, they used to put another pot on top (incaporchiato), so that the smell could not go out and tell the neighbours that something good was on the stove. At La Grande Quercia a heavy lid is used instead, and the stewing is perfect.
The true secret is mamma Maria’s cooking mastery – and the weight of the stones…
Since I was a child, summer has always been the synonym for two things: school term end and harvesting time. Now that school days are – alas! – a faraway memory, harvesting time still retains its fascination to me, who I was brought up in a small village and I spent my summer vacations at my grandparents’ house in the countryside.
Recently, I had the chance to watch harvesting machines at work in the countryside around Atessa, in the acreage surrounding La Grande Quercia agriturismo (farm restaurant, i.e. a business that raises, grows and cooks its own poultry, livestock and vegetables). A quintessential locavore stop.
The name comes from the majestic oak tree just in the middle of the yard – legend says that the oak offered shelter to the Borbonic troops in the XIX century – but the area surrounding the building is worth to be looked at, too. In front of you, hillsides covered with wheat, interspersed with brush spots and olive tree plots and the village of Atessa just behind your shoulders. My idea of wheat field had to be rethought: how can you call a “field” a stretch of land that is as steep as a mountain slope?
Nowadays harvesting is carried out by means of harvesting machines, which save time and exertion. The job a machine can do is far more quicker than a handful of toiling and sweating man. However, the spirit of this activity remains unaffected: “as you sow, so shall you reap” is to be meant literally.
Lunch break at La Grande Quercia is quite and experience. My suggestion is that you should be fasting a week in advance before booking a table for a meal. Servings are copious – this is an understatement, I tell you – so stop fussing about diet, calories and alike and enjoy antipasto all’italiana, peperoncino-flavoured bread rolls, pappardelle, chitarra al ragù, and all the season suggestions… But this is another story, untill then “Bon Appetibilis”.
One of the most relevant projects regarding tourism on two wheels is the Ciclovia Adriatica or Corridoio Verde Adriatico (Adriatic Bike Route), a 1,300 km bike track from Trieste to Santa Maria di Leuca. Some sections are alredy being used by cyclists, especially the ones in coast towns, and longer segments will – hopefully – be achieved in the near future on the Trabocchi coast, from Ortona to San Salvo.
For the time being, let’s enjoy some scenic ride from the main road and from some detours like the Riserva di Punta Aderci. From June to September, don’t miss the chance to stop by a trabocco and have a fish lunch on this peculiar stilt house facing the sea. Lock your bike and relax. The landscape and the food are worth the journey…
“La grande macchina pescatoria composta di tronchi intrecciati, di assi e di gomene biancheggiava simile allo scheletro colossale di un anfibio antidiluviano…. pareva vivere di una vita propria avere un’aria e un’effigie di corpo animato.” ~Gabriele D’Annunzio, Trionfo della morte
“The large fishing device, made of intertwined trunks, planks and hawsers, gleamed as a huge white skeleton of an antediluvian amphibious being… it looked as if it had a life of its own, a feeling and a shape of a living being.” Gabriele D’Annunzio, Trionfo della Morte