Thursday, 21 August 2014

edible genoa

tortelli with octopus ragu
we drove to genoa stopping en route in pisa to see the leaning tower. the expanse of grass that surrounds it was heaving with people trying to position their hands at an angle that would make it appear as if they were leaning against it. few stopped to admire its angled stance. after having looked at it, we returned to our journey. the landscape lining the autostrade varies, dipping into shallow hills and bends with splashes of green. every so often fields of sunflowers would appear on the horizon as rows of gold. the drooping posture of the large flower heads looked like sun bonnets curtsying in the breeze. the descent into genoa is on a circular road much like a ramp in large car parks. as the car descends a city of steps comes into view with the sea shimmering in the background. 

genoa has an odd beauty to it. some of the buildings in the old town have intricately worked facades but there is none of the grandeur of rome or the delicate artistry that we saw in the architecture of florence. most people, it appears use genoa as a base to explore the nearby cinque terre. it is however a firm favourite with those who love food. its contributions to italian cuisine include olive oil enriched focaccia, nutty flavoured farinata, ravioli and above all pesto. i will never forget my first taste of trofie made by i’s nonna. the typical genovese pasta shaped like twists with tapered ends is lacquered with pesto. at enoteca infernotto o and i were introduced to the regional speciality of mandilli al pesto. mandilli literally translates to ‘silk handkerchief’ and are thin squares of pasta coated in a smooth and sultry pesto. the ingredients do not overpower each other. the flavour of the pine nuts appears in their creaminess rather than an assertive flavour. the basil is fragrant and verdant. i can appreciate now why the basil from pra is deemed essential, for it is soft, delicate and most unlike the basil we normally eat in london. another ligurian speciality is pansoti alla salsa di noci. it features ravioli stuffed with local herbs, greens like chard and parmesan finished with a pale creamy sauce made from walnuts and curd like cheese. o had a plate of this at a trattoria in portofino.

mercato orientale 
we walked through mercato orientale one morning. like mercato centrale in florence it was a riot of colour and seasonal produce from around italy. there were figs from trento that burst at a mere squeeze, vivid red wild strawberries the size of candy drops with immense flavour, courgette flowers in full bloom and piles of basil for pesto. there were a number of stalls selling dried fruits and nuts including pine nuts from pakistan.

on our last night in genoa, o and i had intended to dine at da rina but instead we returned to enoteca infernotto. the couple who run it are passionate about their wine and food. their friendliness and dedication is what inspired our return. both of us started with plates of seafood. o had a carpaccio of octopus that was as beautiful to behold as it was to eat. i had gossamer thin slices of tuna and smoked swordfish on a bed of rocket. we shared a plate of spinach and ricotta tortelli smothered with a meaty flavoured octopus ragu. i cannot recollect the name of the red wine that was recommended but its soft chocolate notes paired well with our food. our parting drink was a glass of moscato d’asti. 

octopus carpaccio
i would happily return to genoa, solely for a food focused itinerary. and if i do i will be looking to fred plotkin for recommendations. 

1 comment:

  1. So pleased you appreciated Genoa too. We are definitely planning a return so will save your recommendations for when we do. You might like this