Poetry is to be found everywhere, you only have to be curious, open minded and look. I see a lot of poetry in food, both when I prepare it, as when enjoying it prepared by others. What brings a very special poetry and joy to the senses, is when your dish is including local food and you can savor it in its natural surroundings.
I always look for these moments, and especially when traveling I already start from breakfast, and take my coffee or tea in a special place at the location that reflects its spirit, and with local specialities when possible.
Here are a some food poems from the beautiful Camogli, on the Ligurian Levante Riviera.
A portable breakfast in intimacy with the sea
As regarding breakfast, the classical Italian one would be cappuccino and croissant (or brioche as they name it). The brioche is different from place to place, with all kinds of different fillings. Try absolutely to choose a fresh one or from a pastry shop pasticceria or ask at the bar if they use fresh ones baked there or at a nearby bakery, and not the ones made from frozen pastry. Then you just choose a place at the harbor and enjoy your “cappuccio e brioche” watching the fisherman boats and have a chat with one of the social sea gulls of Camogli.
There is a local sweet in Camogli, not to be missed, named simply camogliesi. The originals were created in 1970 by Giacomo Revello. The first edition of these sumptuous puff pastry balls was with rum chocolate filling followed then by coffee, almond, pistachio, amaretto and other varieties. The camogliesi give the perfect contrast to the bitterness of the coffee. In case of choosing them for breakfast I would recommend plain espresso, as cappuccino would be to result too and creamy for them. They’re a great merenda, afternoon snack to to recharge the batteries for your afternoon excursions.
If you on the other hand want a more fruity and “detox” breakfast or snack, then a frullato smoothie at Soffio di Mare Natural Bar, in via Garibaldi, is always a good idea. The bar’s philosophy is also beautiful. They only use ecological and recyclable materials for serving their snacks and drinks.
Some salty poetry
As for a more salty poetry on the plate, the Ligurian cuisine is very subtle, elegant and simple, highly based on vegetables (except for all the fish), and an extremely skillful use of aromatic herbs. In Italy there are antipasti (starters), primi (first main course), and secondi (second main course). If you have them all together, you will feel quite full, so that experience I would say for special occasions and of course it is more expensive. It is a good idea to share maybe one antipasti in two and take a primo, or just a primo, and yet dine or have lunch in front of the sea at a very moderate price, enjoying high quality products and cuisine. We could use a metaphor for describing the difference between that kind of meal and the full loaded one. One dish becomes more like a poem while the other one is a novel.
Here are two poetry-on-the-plate suggestions, both bearing the authentic scents of the Ligurian food tradition.
The renowned Recco cheese focaccia and trofie with pesto
As I said before. The Ligurian seaside cuisine isn’t all about seafood at all, even if it obviously it is ever present on the menu.
A heavenly cheese filled focaccia, is one of the typical dishes of Ligurian cuisine, specially that one of Recco. At Xodo Bar in Via Garibaldi, 164, they make a great one accompanied by thinly sliced precious culatello ham. Accompanied by a quarter of the authentic house wine, a Rossese base blended with other typical Ligurian grapes, you really have big poetry going on for your senses, at the price of 13 euros.
Trofie chestnut pasta with the inimitable Ligurian pesto basil sauce, is another favorite poem of mine. At L’Osteria da ô Sigù, in via Garibaldi, 32, they make a delightful one with potatoes and string beans. Try it together with a glass of Ramoino Vermentino. At l’osteria they bring also a small antipasto “on the house” including a homemade vegetable dip and freshly baked bread.
How to get to Camogli:
By train: Camogli station
By airplane: Genova airport
By car: Get off the highway at the Recco exit.