In the December 2016/January 2017 issue of Dream of Italy, travel planner Madeline Jhawar wrote about exploring the Portofino peninsula and the towns of Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo and Camogli. Not only are these towns great places for hiking, people-watching and local artistry, they are great places to eat and drink and here are the five things Madeline says you should taste:
- Focaccia al Formaggio. Local Ligurian bread made from a dough similar to pizza dough and cooked in the same way. Eat it plain or topped with cheese (al formaggio), herbs, onions, tomatoes, pesto, and more. Locals even eat it for breakfast, dipping it in their cappuccino. You must stop at Revello Foccaeria in Camogli. Allow time to wait in line because this place serves the best focaccia in town. Watch it being made through the viewing window, then choose one of the many freshly made varieties offered.
- Farinata. Made from chickpea flour, water and olive oil, this is a crepe-like snack that is usually eaten in the afternoon. Visit Tossini in Rapallo to taste some of the area’s best farinata.
- Mussels. On menus, look for cozze or muscoli. You’ll find them in the primi section of the menu, served over spaghetti or other pasta. Or you’ll find them stuffed: the mussels are opened and filled with a mixture of vegetables, bread crumbs and ground mussels. Then they are simmered in tomato sauce. Che buono!
- Pesto Genovese. A staple of Ligurian households and a “must-eat” dish for any traveler to Liguria, pesto originated here and locals are extremely proud of it. Local pesto has very specific ingredients, namely: locally-grown basil, parmigiano cheese, pecorino cheese, garlic, local olive oil and pine nuts. There are hundreds of varieties of basil in the world, and only about 50 of them are edible, but only one of them is used for making pesto Genovese.
- Local white wine Try Vermentino and Sciacchetra! Perfect for a summer evening overlooking the water.