A friend from Paris has been staying with us this week. She has chosen one of those infrequent but now expected weeks of unsettled weather that happen as summer moves into autumn and again as winter turns into spring. Heavy, damp days when the weather shifts from blue sky to gray cloud punctuated by frequent showers of rain.
But weather that’s not suited for eating in our olive grove has meant that we have filled our time with leisurely lunches and warming dinners out.
Our visit to Masseria Moroseta was the stand out culinary highlight of the week. Researched and booked before her visit it was out friend’s thank you for our hospitality.
It is a modern, elegant Masseria 4km from Ostuni conveniently located off the SP21 en route to the Adriatic that aspires to balance nature, good food, design and beauty. Promising food “curated” rather than cooked always raises an eyebrow, suggesting style over substance. So we noted that “Masseria Moroseta gives internal and external guests the opportunity to book a dinner curated by the chef Giorgia Eugenia Goggi.”
“Our dinner is a culinary experience, consisting of several courses that change every day, according to the seasonality and the daily inspiration of the kitchen.
Our cuisine is based on the knowledge of Mediterranean traditions, enriched with scents, techniques and suggestions from our travels.”
In the event we need not have worried. The food was exceptional. Beautifully presented, and served on ceramic tableware exclusively made by Nicola Fasano’s workshop in Grottaglie.
The minimal simplicity of the interior space, with communal dining table, a long and low sofa and the fireplace hinted Scandic chic, at counterpoint with the Mediterranean courtyard that welcomed us. Yet it was as comforting as the food that was served, on an otherwise cold, dark October night.
Before dinner we were treated to an amuse bouche, a slightly chilled cream of almond, delicious although it felt a little out of place given the inclement weather. It was also served while we other guests were mingling which felt uncomfortable in the new normal living with covid era.
The fave bean puree with a well of fig oil one of the antipasti tasted as smooth as it looked. The trio of antipasti dishes were completed with some artisan bread from Trani and fluffy focaccia.
Cuttlefish, tender and fragranced with basil and pistachio followed, served with what was described as pickled cucumber but could have passed for candied cedro.
A standout risotto, lightened by a beurre blanc, survived the layers of flavour that could have made it a mess. It was at once delicately scented with lemon and far from overpowered by the canestrato cheese. What a trick that it should leave the roof of my mouth itching without drowning out the other flavours. Balance indeed. Finished with hazelnut and rape leaf, somewhere between freeze dried and deep fried, and powdered spinach.
Each ingredient complimented the other but retained an individual taste that the palate was easily able to recognise and enjoy.
Bombetta the colour of plum glazed duck was accompanied by an incredibly warming ginger spiced salsa. The fact that it was the least photogenic of the dishes on the menu was completely irrelevant.
The genius of the Sicilian mango sorbet that finished the menu was its lacking the usual sherbet-sucking-in-the-mouth zing. This was deliciously smooth in texture and taste. Served with the flapjack you always wanted to have. All the honey oatmeal taste but as smooth as sponge.
The wine recommendations were excellent, particularly the Masseria La Cattiva Rosso organic Primitivo. We were told that it was without sulfites - you could see the difference.
…but poor covid hygiene
On arrival we were asked if we had been double vaccinated, but we were not asked to show our covid green pass. That may have been because an assumption was made that as non-native Italian speakers we had all travelled from abroad, for which the green pass would have been necessary. However two of us had not.
We were introduced to the guests’ living space and private bar. There staff mingled with us and with other guests. Staff did not and other guests were not required to wear masks as they circulated in these shared spaces.
I chose not to voice my hesitancy about the lack of covid hygiene so as not to spoil my companions’ enjoyment of the evening. Instead I stood away from everyone, wearing my mask until I had to take it off to drink my water.
We were seated at a communal table. Another diner, a stranger, was seated on my right within a metre of me, her dining companion on the opposite side.
Both may have been vaccinated or had immunity, or tested negative. I had no certainty of knowing, if like us, they had not been required to show their green pass.
My discomfort increased over the evening each and every time mask less staff came to table to serve, leaning over me to my right and to my left. The pleasure of exceptional dining and wonderful surroundings sullied by the discomfort caused by my perception of exposure to contagion, each and every time the food was served and cleared.
As the guest of my friend who was thrilled to take us to Moroseta I was in the impossible position of not being able to ask for consideration of our health to be taken account of at the risk of making my friend feel uncomfortable, and spoil her clear enjoyment of the evening and her kind gesture.
Safety is a consideration at Moroseta. Their website describes the Masseria with “double rooms with large bathroom, private garden, independent air conditioning and heating, and safe”.
Sadly the masseria’s covid-19 practice meant that safely did not feel part of our Moroseta experience.
We did take this up with Masseria Moroseta subsequently. Here is their response.
Update | This article was amended on 25 October at the request of the member of staff at Masseria Moroseta who provided the response. The name and contact details of the individual were redacted, but you can contact the Masseria ahead of booking to confirm their current covid protocols using the details on their website which are:
tel:+39 338 18 99 199
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