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Eating Our Way Across Italy, Part IV: Liguria

The next leg of Keeper’s Italian excursion took place in the Liguria/Italian Riviera region. Although we regularly day-tripped throughout the area, we resided in the city of Recco, which is in fact the gastronomic capital of Liguria.

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Focaccia col Formaggio

Recco is especially famous for its signature Focaccia col Formaggio, or cheese filled Focaccia bread. We know it sounds too simple to be a renowned dish, but take our word for it – it’s messy, gooey, cheesy, rich, and far too good to turn down! Recco even holds an annual Focaccia Festival, which just happened to commence on the very day that we arrived in Recco. Needless to say, we took it as a positive sign of the feasting to come during our stay.

One of the best meals we had in Italy was on our first night in Recco at a great family owned place called Vittorio’s, run by twin brothers Gianni & Vittorio. They were the ideal Italian hosts – very welcoming and excited to indulge us with Italian culture. We of course started off with some Focaccia col Formaggio, and then Mattia, our waiter and Gianni’s son, treated us to an authentic Italian antipasti of White & Cured Anchovies.

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Anchovy Antipasti

It may be hard to believe, but this Calamari that came next did actually taste as good as its presentation suggests.

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Calamari

The Linguini d’Astice confirmed that seafood & pasta is the Italian Riviera winning combination (we didn’t stray far from this combo for the rest of the trip).

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Linguini d’Astice

We're ashamed to say that after all of this, we proceeded to order dessert (but never ashamed of the number of empty wine bottles that seemed to have accumulated on the table). When in Italy… right? We ordered an assortment of sweets, including an order of Chocolate Rum Balls that deserve mentioning. We should have paid more attention when Mattia’s response to my order was simply a nod of the head and a smirk while muttering “strong, very strong”. If the wine hadn’t already done it, the chocolate rum balls pushed us all over the edge! They weren’t lying – they were simply balls of rum!

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Chocolate de Rhum

We concluded the evening with some complementary grappa and limonciello, toasting to a great first evening in Recco and our new friends Vittorio, Gianni, and Mattia!

We spent the rest of our time touring and tasting the entire Italian Riviera (a word to the wise – don’t “misplace” your Eurail pass! It becomes quite an expensive hassle to replace…oops). We visited the beautiful Cinque Terra…

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Cinque Terra

Portofino…

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Sunset in Santa Margherita

And the gorgeous open markets throughout the area…

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Heirloom Tomatoes

Between Recco’s Monday market, Santa Margherita’s daily market, and La Spezia’ s Friday market, we were itching to get into the kitchen and give our Italian culinary skills a shot! We selected Chef Paul Petersen’s Spring Papperdelle Pasta with Asparagus, Mushrooms, & Spring Onion Jam – and what an amazing choice that was. We spent much of the day navigating Liguria for the freshest of the fresh, and I have to say, I think we did a pretty good job.

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Fresh Pasta

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Fresh Basil

After an eventful day of market hopping, it was time to crack open some Chianti and get cookin’. Reminiscing about the amazing travels and cuisine that were coming to an end and the looming reality of heading home, we cooked up the perfect finale meal.

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Chef Paul Petersen - Spring Papperdelle Pasta with Asparagus, Mushrooms, & Spring Onion Jam

Considering it a well rounded success, we gave a final “Brindis” (or toast, an Italian phrase we picked up along the way, which came to good use!) and bid “Ciao Ciao” to Recco.

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