A Foodie Guide to Liguria

Focaccia genovese
Liguria is a unique destination for foodies. The region is well known for being the land of olive oil, focaccia and Ligurian pesto. Its cuisine is rich in tastes and every area of the region is renowned for its traditional recipes and fresh produce.
Here are our top 3 Ligurian foodie experiences:

1. Make your own ‘Pesto alla Genovese’
Genoese pesto, the quintessential pesto recipe, is made with Genoese basil, coarse salt, vessalico garlic cloves, a handful of pine kernels, Ligurian extra virgin olive oil, pecorino cheese and parmesan cheese. Pesto is traditionally prepared in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle, thus giving the recipe its name, which literally translates to ‘I crush’ in Italian. Basil is a fundamental ingredient in the preparation and this comes from different areas of the region, Voltri, Prà, Coronata for Genoa, Diano Marina, Andora, Albenga for the Western Riviera and Val di Magra for the Eastern Riviera.

The Pesto World Championships are experiences not to be missed by true pesto lovers. Held every two years in Genoa at the Ducal Palace, the championship promotes Genoese pesto. Next competition will be held on the 17th of March 2018 and participants from all over the world will challenge one another to produce exceptional pesto with all the ingredients of the traditional recipe. The competition is open not only to professional chefs, but also to cooking enthusiasts. Moreover, during the pesto championship, Ligurian restaurateurs offer a special promotional menu including pesto dishes.

2. Try the original Genoese Focaccia
Made with a crisp crust with olive oil, salt and a soft inner crumb, focaccia is a true specialty of Liguria. The classical version is one of the simplest yet tastiest options which is made simply with flour made from soft wheat, Ligurian Riviera PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) extra virgin olive oil, salt, brewer’s yeast and water. Other varieties include focaccias with thin cut potatoes on the surface, onions sprinkled in the mix before baking, tasty rosemary, sage or olives and the cheesy Focaccia of Recco IGP (protected geographical indication), celebrated every year in Recco at the ‘Festa della Focaccia’ (focaccia feast). Visitors can try the different focaccias in the local bakeries and in the traditional ‘Sciamadde’ shops together with the best Ligurian gastronomic specialities.

3. Get a bottle of the tasty Ligurian extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet and can be found in all Ligurian dishes. It is produced in the countryside of the region with recipes passed through generations. The olive harvest is one of the most significant moments for olive growers. Running from early November to the end of December, it is widely celebrated with different festivals taking place in the region. Every year in November, Imperia hosts ‘Olioliva’, a big festival celebrating olive oil. This year ‘Olioliva’, will take place from 11-13 November and the there will be a weekend marked with flavours, tastings, cooking workshops, and dedicated traditional menus at participating restaurants. Also in November, Sestri Levante celebrates olive oil with ‘PaneOlio e …’, a colourful market where visitors can discover the tastes of olive oil from different olive growing firms.

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Notes:
Situated in north west Italy, Liguria is otherwise known as the Italian Riviera. The long and narrow coastal region is well known for its capital Genoa, the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Cinque Terre villages and for being the home of pesto. Liguria boasts the perfect blend between authencity and a relaxed pace of life and is renowned for its incredible beaches, beautifully preserved medieval villages, stunning mountains and unique cuisine.

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