Chow, Bella part 1: What to eat in Portofino
What better way to get back to blogging than to reminisce about the food on our Italian honeymoon. Part 1: Portofino.
I could describe every meal in glorious, pesto-drenched detail. Ok, let’s be real, no I can’t. That ship sailed after one too many glasses of vino.
Regardless, that would do you no good—you’d just be terribly hungry and painfully jealous.
Instead, being the fantastic food-obsessed tourist that I am, I sleuthed out and sampled nearly every local delicacy and regional specialty for your culinary education. So, should you ever find yourself in the Ligurian region—or Tuscany, Rome or Amalfi Coast for that matter—you’ll know exactly how to order for maximum impact.
What to eat in Portofino (Liguria)
When Dave heard we were going to the birthplace of pesto, his eyes lit up like a kid on christmas. In Liguria, the stuff is everywhere. Red sauce? What red sauce? It’s all about basil, olive oil, garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano and pine nuts muddled to perfection. Nearly every shop in the area sells jars of pesto, so if you’re looking for a gift or souvenir for your favorite foodie, there’s not much better in terms of price, portability and authenticity.
After describing his recommendation of trofie pasta (short, doughy, hand-formed twists), the waiter didn’t have to twist our arms to get us to order it. While best fresh, you can find it dried alongside the aforementioned pesto jars throughout the region. I even found it in our local grocery store here in Chicago.
I think I ate my weight in focaccia while in Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure and Cinque Terre. Onion, rosemary, potato, sun-dried tomato, parmesan—I sampled them ALL. It’s doughy, dense, greasy and delicious, and I gladly ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
You can’t visit the Italian Riviera or Amalfi coast without eating seafood. And if you don’t eat seafood, you’ll be eating a lot of pizza and focaccia (there are worse fates, I suppose). In Italian fishing regions, they let their fruits of the sea shine with very simple preparations. Think olive oil, salt, and roasted vegetables. Another common preparation is to bake a whole fish under a mound of sea salt, which makes for a juicy, melt in your mouth meal. The variety is nearly endless, so don’t expect me to recall the types of fish. Suffice to say every fish dish I had was tender, flavorful and impossibly fresh.
Stay tuned for more of my Italian food diary. Next up, Tuscany.