If Tuscany is known for its wines, Emilia Romagna for its parmesan cheese, then Puglia too must be made known to the world for its bread. In fact, in 2003, the bread of Altamura , (a small town in the northeastern part of the Murgia region of Puglia), was the first product in Europe to receive the exclusive DOP label: protected designation of origin, ( the DOC label for the top wines means controlled designation of origin).
The pane di Altamura, as it is known, has a unique and inimitable taste borne of the typical artisanal working of the dough----a process handed down from past generations----, and from the particular climatic and environmental conditions of where it is produced.
Among the over 1000 different varieties of bread produced in Italy, the bread of Altamura is the only one to have received this highest of accolades in Europe with the DOP label. It is produced within the area of its origin and made exclusively from grain grown in the same area. Its singular flavour and taste, its golden colour with a crisp crust and spongy texture, and its 2 week long shelf-life are the characteristics that distinguish this Pugliese bread.
Il Pane di Altamura is something to dream about; dipped in a vegetable stock made with onions and garlic and seasoned with a little extra virgin olive oil and pepperoncino, this bread might just become the main reason to visit Puglia again.
Here in Toronto, you may want to venture out and visit Sud Forno on Queen St where you can find the bread that comes the closest to this heavenly delight. Here they call it 'pane pugliese', and while its not quite the same as il pane di Altamura, we shall just have to be content with it until we visit Puglia again!