Sunday, December 29, 2013

Boccadasse, Pizza … and the Serious Business of Pesto in Genoa

Boccadasse, Genoa

Pesto is serious business in Genova. If the topic comes up, be prepared to stand your ground, with your opinions, or just nod in an manner that shows your appreciation for the other person's vast knowledge on the subject. I suggest the latter.

On my first night in Genoa, Vincenzo told me that we had been invited for a Sunday lunch, with his family. "My mother will make pesto," he said, "have you ever had pesto?" 
I smiled, "Yes, I've had pesto. We do have pesto in California." It seemed like such a funny question, but now I understand.

Up til now, Vince and I had been lounging, on the sofa, watching Kitchen Nightmares, dubbed in Italian. He had been in a laid back, reclining position. But now, as he started to explain to me about pesto, he was not only sitting up, but leaning forward and getting very intense.
"But you see, real pesto only comes from a particular type of Basilico, (basil) from this little town … they water it with a particular water from this particular well … and they use only the very smallest leaves from the basilico…

I smiled. "I can see by the way you are sitting, that this is really serious business." We both broke into laughter.

Funny thing is, later when we went out with his friends, he turned to his friend Alessandro and said, my mother is making pesto tomorrow. Then, Alessandro began to explain, very intensely about how "pesto is made from only the basilico …" and then of course Vince and I started cracking up all over again.

After our night out on the town, and getting home at 5 am, we somehow managed to get to his sister's place at 1pm. There was wine, loads of yummy antipasti, these fabulous little egg dishes in little ramekins, a great pasta with tomato sauce, … and then out it came.

His mother's pesto. 

The thing is, I thought I had had pesto. You might think you have too. Nope. Sorry. Now, I understand.

So, this pesto lasagna, was several layers of paper thin homemade pasta, with layers of pesto, beschemel, and parmiggiano between every layer … and it was the brightest green, that my camera couldn't really get. I guess it was from using the tiny new leaves, from the basil plant?

Anyway, It was … out of this world spectacular. Somehow, those tiny thin layers actually made it seem so light! I don't know how! Every bite was like this perfect mixture of wonderful fresh flavors and textures … 

Seriously, if you get a plate of pasta, when you arrive at the pearly gates, I'm pretty sure the angels would hand you this.

I had two helpings, and would have had more, if I hadn't known that the meat course was coming. And dessert. And after dinner wine. (Thank the lord, we got to take the leftovers!)

There is no love sincerer
than the love
of food.
~George Bernard Shaw

His family was incredibly sweet to me. His sister was so kind and welcoming, which was great, because for some reason, I was a tiny bit nervous. Her 5 year old Laura was there, and was more than a little bit enamored by the fact that I came from America. So cute. She couldn't wait to show me her room, and her private little notebook.

His father spoke a bit of English to me and was really welcoming, along with his brother and sister in law. His mom didn't speak English, but Vincenzo translated. I understood bits and pieces but I was also running on very little sleep. At one point his mom asked me something simple, in Italian, and I answered back, in Italian. Little Laura's eyes got as big as saucers, "Lei capisce!" (she understands!) As if she'd found me out! I told her, just a little! (In Italian.)

Laura and me, on her Mamma's balcony ...

Her rather spectacular view ...

Vincenzo and I headed down the hill and decided we should try to get to Boccadasse, an old mariners neighborhood, before sunset. Not much time!


We got down to the waterfront, with a little bit of light left!

But the low light also made it even more beautiful!

Boccadasse, Genova

My little point and shoot camera, wasn't too happy with the lack of light, but it really was a gorgeous time of day … I was happy that we'd made it there for the end of "magic hour" and sunset.

Chiesa Sant'Antonio in Boccadasse

While we are still in night mode ...

On my last night in Genova, we went back to the shopping area along that huge main Boulevard (Via XX Settembre) I'd been on the first night. (That's when I actually bought my fuzzy socks. I know you were dying to know that.)

We went into this crazy coffee place with all sorts of yummy caffeinated deliciousness.

Can you tell which was "coffee" and which one was Vincenzo's? Yes, his is the straight up espresso, above, and mine is the one below, which was basically like a dessert. So good. It was the "Pan di stelle caffé" which was coffee, chocolate, whipped cream, vanilla cream, biscotti and some sort of chocolate biscuit. 

Anyway … how cute is this Piazza???

One thing I had heard about, in Genoa, was this huge wonderful covered market, called Mercato Orientale, which I think was kind of hidden, behind all the big shops on that main drag.

It has everything you can think of, including spices, meats, cheeses, nuts, olive oils … more produce ...

… boatloads of fish ...

And then, there's an upstairs area, where I got a great little woven shopping bag for the trip home, to stuff more of my loot into, along with my pillow. Yes, I brought my pillow.

For my last night in Genova, I told Vince that I'd like to have whatever he thought was the best pizza. I think it was actually in Boccadasse, or at least just to the East of it, somewhere. 

Um … yeah. Really, really good.

This, below, is before we left, but when we arrived it was jammed packed.

Fortunately, outside the main restaurant, they built this area ...

I ordered the spicy "Diavola" pizza.

So good. The cheeses on the pizzas were simply amazing. Look how big that beer is, too! I don't know if I finished the beer, but I think I finished the whole pizza.

I couldn't find a website for the pizza place, but click here for their Facebook Page.

I seriously had the most amazing time in Genoa, thanks to Vincenzo. I would still go back again, if he wasn't there, but it would never be the same. 

It was so special and warm and wonderful getting to meet his family and friends, stay at his place, and hang out with him … sing silly pop songs in the car … and Beyonce in the enormous cemetery. (Saving that for another post,)

Anyway, thank you Vincenzo!

Hope you all had a beautiful Christmas, those that celebrate. Mine was great but I think I still have a butter hangover. If I had a blood test, my cholesterol would be off the charts. I feel like a juice cleanse might be in the works. I've never done one, but it kind of sounds like a good idea!

I have more memories
than if I were a thousand years old.
~ Charles Baudelaire

Blessings and light!


Merisi said...

Magical! (Have I exclaimed that before? ;-) )

Thinly rolled home-made lasagne-leaves are simply the best. Real Italian cuisine is not as heavy as the American version. And all your other images and the stories, mille grazie: they brought back memories of Christmas in Italy, and more!

Rick Forrestal said...

Wonderful post (as usual.)
I can smell their amazing pesto.
Food is so important there, we can tell from your photos. The markets, the sea, that setting.
I can imagine how good that pizza was . . . yum.
I laughed out loud when I saw your "coffee."
Your travel photos are amazing -- you capture what's important, what's beautiful.
Thanks (again) for sharing.

Marty said...

all is wonderful here Lucinda, all these images ! it's a great pleasure to visit you !
wish you a happy new year

donna baker said...

Genoa looks beautiful and it was fun to see it through your eyes. The lasagna, pizza: I too have been thinking I need a cleanse or something. It must be all the wine or limoncello that keeps the pounds off; a natural cleanse.

Loree said...

What wonderful places you take us to :) And that lasagna ... mmm. It has made me hungry all over again.

isabella kramer - veredit said...

Amazing impressions and I could see that you have a marvelous Christmas!!

all my best wishes for 2014 Lucinda!!

un abbraccio, isabella

isabella kramer - veredit said...

Amazing impressions and I could see that you have a marvelous Christmas!!

all my best wishes for 2014 Lucinda!!

un abbraccio, isabella

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