Hi friends! Today we are going to the north-west of Italy, to the Liguria region. It is an Italian continuation of the French Riviera. And both regions have much in common in the historical, cultural and gastronomic context. It is located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Here you will see not only sea landscapes but also the foothills of the Alps. You can also enjoy simple but very delicious food and wine of Liguria.
The most famous ingredient in Ligurian cuisine is pesto sauce. This region is considered to be the birthplace of the sauce. Not surprisingly, all the ingredients for this sauce are Liguria’s best local products. Olive oil, basil, garlic, pine seeds, hard sheep’s cheese. Be sure to taste the local lasagna with pesto.
Simple street food of Liguria
Locals eat a lot of dough dishes, like all Italians.
- Focaccia, a traditional Italian wheat tortilla, is very popular. Its dough is insanely simple: flour, water and olive oil. But how delicious it can be! In Liguria, you will most often find Focaccia Genovese and Focaccia di Recco. The first is pretty simple. Thin tortilla with olive oil and salt, sometimes with onions. Focaccia di Recco has two layers. It can be stuffed inside with cheese, sausage, sprinkled with garlic, pepper, herbs.
- Farinata (Faina in Genoa and Socca in Nice) is a thin tortilla made from chickpea flour. This seemingly simple cake made in an open oven is very tasty. It is popular not only in northwestern Italy and on the French Riviera, but even in Uruguay and Argentina. Ligurian immigrants brought local recipes with them to South America. There, this dish is also called Faina. Faina, Farinata or Socca is the most popular street food on the Mediterranean coast from Nice to Tuscany. In Genoa, you can find faina with onions and artichokes. They say that the traditional here is fainâ co i gianchetti. But I have never tasted it.
- Panissa is another local Ligurian speciality. It is made from the same chickpea flour, also cooked in the oven. But Faina or Socca is baked as a whole big pancake. Panissa is like little pancakes in olive oil. You will also find panissa among the Provence specialities.
- Sardenaira is like pizza without cheese. Although many claims that this dish is closer to focaccia. It is very similar to street food in Nice called pissaladière. This name comes from the older one – pizza all’Andrea in honor of the Genoese admiral Andrea Doria (1466-1560), whose favourite food was a piece of bread with olive oil, garlic and salted anchovy. It is said that it was Sardenaira that became the basis of Napoletana pizza recipe before the discovery of America by Columbus and the appearance of tomatoes in Europe.
Seafood in Liguria
Liguria descends from the mountains to the sea coast. Therefore it is a sin not to taste fish here. For example, you will find anchovies in all interpretations: fried, stuffed, fresh, canned.
- Cappon magro or capponata. You must have heard of Nisois salad, and so there is a Genoese salad. It consists of seafood and vegetables, laid out in the likeness of a biscuit in the form of a pyramid. Inside you have tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, eggs, bottarga (caviar of mullet or tuna), dried tuna. All this is seasoned with local olive oil. Lobster is placed on top of such a pyramid. Capponata is a traditional dish for Christmas dinner in Liguria. If you still want to taste the Nicoise salad, in Liguria it is called Insalata nizzarda.
- Buridda ligure is a traditional Ligurian fish soup. Sometimes it can be like a stew. Several types of fish can be used at once, as well as seafood such as squid, shellfish and mussels. In Genova, they often use octopus and shrimps. In Provence, a similar soup can be found under the name bourride.
What else to taste in Liguria?
- Torta verde or tôrta pasqualinn-a is a salty cake traditional for the Easter table. After fasting, eggs and cheese, the ingredients of the cake, began to be eaten on Easter. Sometimes they add artichokes, peas, vegetables. But traditionally in Genova, this pie is made with a mangold – a subset of beets. Sometimes you can even find sweet versions of this cake.
- Trenette al pesto. Trenette is a narrow flat pasta popular in Liguria. Served with pesto.
- Risotto con castagne e latte – risotto with chestnuts and milk.
- Coniglio alla Ligure – rabbit stewed in white wine.
Desserts of Liguria
- Amaretti di Sassello is local macaroons. It is popular in different regions of Italy, but each has its own recipe and vision of real Amaretti.
- Canestrelli is a traditional cookie for Piedmont, Liguria and Corsica.
- Pandolce Genovese or Genova cake is a fruit cake with raisins, candied fruits, almonds, zest and pine nuts.
Wine of Liguria
Wine deserves a separate post. Here I would like to say that food and wine of Liguria always went hand in hand, as in other regions of the Mediterranean. Therefore, to complete the gastronomic pleasure in Liguria, it is better to pair wine and food!
The most famous wine sub-region of Liguria is, perhaps, the Cinque Terre. It is known primarily because of its tourist significance. People travel, come here, walk along the vineyards on cliffs, eat at local restaurants, taste local wine and then often associate all of Liguria winemaking with the Cinque Terre. And that does not reflect all the reality. They produce wine in Cinque Terre, but in very small quantities. So it is quite difficult to find it outside of Liguria. But if you find yourself in one of these charming villages, then do not miss the opportunity to taste local wine. It is made of white varieties Vermentino (in Nice and Provence it is called Rolle), Bosco, Alborola. It will be light, fresh, fruity wine. Sweet Sciacchetra wine is also produced here. Grapes are dried in the sun.
At the very border with France and not far from Nice there is another appellation – Dolceaqua. They produce red wine from the autochthonous variety – Rossese.
Closer to the east and Tuscany the winemakers use Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, Pollera nera, Bracciola nera, Trebbiano and Vermentino varieties.
Festivals in Liguria
All this diversity and an abundance of delicious food and wine of Liguria can be tasted at the numerous festivals that take place in the summer in almost every town in Liguria. It is a very exciting action, where you can carelessly enjoy food, wine, music, dancing, socializing, landscapes until the morning. I hope that soon we will regain the opportunity to have fun in Liguria!