This post is from the series about our honeymoon in October and November 2015. You can read more about it here
Aside from getting married and enjoying just over two wonderful week with my new wife one of the best things about our honeymoon to Genoa and Rapallo was the wonderful, glorious food we got to enjoy each and every day.
The region of Liguria home to, Genoa, Rapallo and Portofino boasts some of the freshest, best food you will find in the whole of Italy including fresh fish and seafood and dishes such as pesto alla Genovese, minestrone and Pansotti di Rapallo. Sitting betweens the mountains and the coast Liguria has a harsher landscape but one which lends itself well to wonderful produce.
The overall diet of the region is made up from fresh fish, seafood and an abundance of fresh herbs and vegetables. Many of the best dishes come from either fishermen, like fritto misto, or from peasant dishes, such as focaccia and minestrone or others which employ a lot of the herbs. What were once meals to fill impoverished households are now some of the best cuisine you will every enjoy.
Below are some of my favourite meals from the trip, along with the restaurants where I enjoyed them.
Pesto, pesto, pesto
Genoa loves pesto and the beautiful green sauce made it into just about everything we are in Genoa. It’s little wonder the city is seemingly obsessed with, after all it is know as Pesto alla Genovese. Whilst to us in the UK it always means that beautiful green paste, in Italy ‘pesto’ can be any paste of herbs mashed up in a pestle and mortar (or a blender these days!). Pesto Genovese comes specifically from the Genoa region and must be made to a specific recipe as it has D.O.P protection.
Genoa produces the crucial basil as well as lemons, pine nuts and cheese which all combine to make a fantastic base for much more than pasta. In Genoa we had pesto with trofie pasta several times, great every time.
I had it as a topping on a pizza. This was a little unusual and I’m not entirely sure it works and it is very liquidy as a pizza topping.
Finally I had it in minestrone soup. I had two versions of this on the trip, each quite different. One had thinner liquid but was chunkier with big bits of vegetables whilst the other was bereft of the chunks but did have a thicker broth.
As you would expect from a coastal region, and one which made its wealth on the sea’s, Liguria is full of wonderful fish seafood. It would be very easy to live here and give up meat entirely, becoming a pescatarian.
My first recommendation is trying a good plate of fritto misto. Whilst the term translates as mixed fry, it is usually used to mean fried mixed fish. Fritto misto is often served as a plate of small mixed fried fish.
Frito Misto in Genoa.
Frito Misto in Portofino.
That wasn’t the only seafood and fish we ate. In Portofino Hana had this lovely looking white fish for lunch, the simple sauce looked really delicious.
Talking of delicious fish and seafood check out these dishes we had in Sol restaurant in Rapallo. You can see the gorgeous stater Hana had and the bowl of mussels I had for lunch.
At the hotel I had this rather surprising basket of steamed seafood. I was almost a little put off, but with some sweet chilli sauce it was really great.
Finally there was this seafood pasta and fresh fish we had in the little fishing town of Camogli. It was super fresh, tasty and incredibly reasonably priced!
Pasta, Pizza and risotto
They might be a cliche but pasta, pizza and risotto are what Italian cuisine is world renowned for and we both tried some fantastic examples of these during our trip.
My favourite pasta dish, which I had twice during our stay in Rapallo was Pansotti di Rapallo. This is Rapallo’s very own filled pasta recipe, stuffed with a beautiful mix of local herbs. It is served in a walnut source. I can’t say enough how much how tasty this dish was. I can still taste it weeks later and I really can’t wait to try it again some day. I ate it at Hosteria Vecchia.
On our first night in Turin, Hana had this fantastic pumpkin risotto. I loved how creamy it was without actually having any cream it it. As I said earlier, we had trofie pasta with pesto several times and even from little cafe’s it was brilliant.
Pizza is a classic Italian dish and though it is not native to the Ligurian region I did have some lovely examples from classic margherita to prosciutto topped pizzas.
Meat, meat and more meat
Whilst I said you could almost become a pescatarian in Liguria dining on seafood and fish, you would be missing out on a plethora of hams and cured meats. From the breakfast buffet to platters served with drinks everywhere you went you could see the Italian love of cured meats. Here are some beautifully presented examples of meat and cheese platters.
I did say that Liguria relies as much on the land and on the sea for produce and the region grows beautifully flavoured vegetables. Often grilled, I gorged on them at breakfast and then as a side dish with as many meals as I could.
Special mention to the hotel breakfasts
The Grand Hotel Savoia Genoa and Excelsior Palace Hotel Rapallo both had absolutely fantastic breakfast buffets as you can see. They might not be haute’ cuisine but they were well prepared and fantastically well stocked.
If you are looking for fantastic food, Liguria is certainly the place to go!