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  • Writer's pictureGary Mack

Puglia and Pulia: La Vechhia Taverna (Monopoli)

I'm very excited about tonight's dinner. We have decided that tonight is the night we are going to eat at La Vechhia Taverna. We love this place. Last year we ate here quite a few time. On our last night we had a lovely chat with Vito and his wife Antonietta, she is the chef and she does all the cooking in a tiny kitchen, day after day (they are closed on Tuesdays). Vito is an amazing front of house; he's friendly, attentive and super jolly. Vito has so much passion for food and more importantly so much love for his wife. They are such a lovely couple. So tonight is the night. I hope we get the baby gnocchi with pesto and clams. Fingers crossed.

Apart from tonight's dinner we don't have any plans for today.

Another late breakfast / lunch. I used the bruschelina again. We didn't pop the tomatoes on top of the brushcetta this time. Instead I scraped the tomatoes across the slightly garlicky, slightly burnt bread then I spooned over the juices. The smokey flavour from the bruschelina mixed with the sweet tomatoes and the acidity from the dressing are a perfect combination.

After our lovely lunch we headed to the beach for a little paddle.

The day drifted away as we relaxed in the sun and read our books.

At 8.30 we decide to head to La Vecchia Taverna and we were greeted by Vito on the terrace. We went for the set menu (25 euros each), knowing it would defeat us. We challenged Vito to surprise us. Really, I should have said give us anything and everything except octopus!

So, the antipasta arrived ... Yip you guessed..  Octopus, prawns in a thousand island sauce, courgettes and the most beautiful burrata (a fabulously creamy mozzarella). All very, very delicious. 

Then the primi arrives and it's our favourite - gnochetti and clams. This dish is perfectly balanced in flavours. The sauce is a straight forward fresh pesto, but the secret, I can only guess, is the little slithers of lime or lemon. Last year it was lemon, I am sure though that tonight's is lime. It means that each bite offers you a beautifully fresh citrus flavour. Matchsticks of courgette adorn the top, adding a very clean al denti bite. We were so hoping to have this dish...and we did!

The secondi was a mountain of deep-fried fresh fish, octopus and prawns and another plate of delicious grilled octopus and langoustine. The portions were very generous.

We love La Vecchia Taverna. It's very comforting to know that they continue to create the same wonderful dishes. Why change your menu, when you know what you do best? Their dishes really are the best. I could eat lots more of the baby gnocchi. With over a week left, I have a funny feeling I might.

The evening ends with a champagne glass of iced lemon cream and homemade limoncello.

We crawl home with full bellies, we will sleep very well tonight. I'm pretty sure of that!

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