We've been in foodie heaven here at The Madhouse recently, trying out lots of authentic local specialities from various foreign countries, with Spain and Italy topping the bill at the moment. After the authentic Italian-inspired meats from unearthed (that we reviewed here), we have some Italian pasta and sauce to review from Tuscany Corner and some incredible Spanish olives too (so watch this space for those reviews). But this time, on the tasting block, was some authentic regional Italian bread from Crosta & Mollica.
We received a packet of five slices of Altamura bread to try out - a traditional artisan bread, which is made using 100% local durum wheat flour ground in mills within the communes of Altamura.
Crosta & Mollica explain : "Boasting an aromatic taste coupled with a crisp thick crust and golden crumb, these large Puglian loafs are delicious when toasted and turned into bruschetta with a rub of garlic, glug of olive oil and topped with salt and pepper. Alternatively try adding some ripe and juicy tomatoes and a piece of basil for ‘must have’ Christmas antipasto served immediately with a glass of velvety red or warming mulled wine."
I love trying out authentic, rustic products that have real local flavour and heritage. That's certainly the case for the Altamura bread, which looks just like something you'd find in local Italian farmers' markets. Crosta & Mollica proudly point out that : "Baked by the Forte family in Altamura, Italy for over fifty years where ‘passione’ is at the heart of what they do, Altamura bread was the first baking product in Europe to be granted a DOP certificate (or denomination of protected origin)".
The first thing that leaps out at you is the size of each slice. One slice is a meal in itself, as our gorgeous cheese and ham on toast shows. It's as big as the dinner plate !
Lightly toasted under the grill for just a few minutes, the bread acquires some lovely crunch while remaining pliable and chewy. It reminds me of the homemade bread that comes out of the bread machine when I manage to find Italian Ciabatta flour or the rustic loaves that we pick up in French bakeries. Nothing like the bland sliced white loaves that most of us throw in the trolley when we're doing the weekly shop !
It actually has quite a long shelf life, which surprised me, because this type of rustic bread usually goes stale quite quickly, especially as it's pre-sliced.
We tried the bread straight from the packet too, topped with unearthed Spicy Salsiccia but it seemed slightly waxy and not as nice as when it was toasted. A couple of minutes under the grill really brings out the flavours and the lovely texture so is highly recommended.
Altamura is available in Waitrose nationwide and Selfridges priced from £1.79 for five slices.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £1.79 for five slices
for more information : http://www.crostamollica.com/
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