Each region and city in Italy has their own flavors and tastes to discover..and on a recent trip there I had a flavorful experience discovering the tastes that give Genoa its’ flavor…and secrets of it’s world famous pesto.
In Via San Bernardo, parallel to via Giustiniani, a small metal sign in a miniscule window is the front of Drogheria Torielli. But be careful, if the sun is very strong, you may miss it since the glare of the metal sign on the window will hide this little shop. But it’s name is known by gourmets throughout all of Italy. Why?? well it is here that you will find the best zafferano (saffron) both from Abruzzo and Sardinia. An assortment of the best coffee and teas and 200 types of medicinal herbs exotic and local and any spice you can imagine. Each spice is kept in a large glass jar.
The fragrant odor that fills the air is made up of thousands of different scents and you feel as if you are in a pharmacy instead of a spice shop. Many fo these spices are found in the artisan produced chocolates of Viganotti. It is there that a master chocolatier utilizes apparatus from the ‘800’s to produce sublime chocolate bars and chocolates Chocolates that are crunchy, soft, filled with nuts from Piedmont, covered with dark chocolate, filled with creams made from old artisan recipes and more. Eve nth shop itself has remained in some of its’ original style with its old wooden shelves and counter and the air filled with the smell of sugar, cocoa.
Pesto is a famous dish from Genoa, with basil, grown famously there, it’s principal ingredient. And the microclimate of Genoa as well as the soil there is perfect for growing basil, but it is also the years of experience of the basil growers in Genoa that produces a basil of superior qulaity.
This Pesto recipe is similar to that which is used for official tasting courses while in the Province of Genoa and is considered the official Pesto recipe of Genoa, sort of their secret recipe… however I have substituted ingredients that are more easily available for those which are local to Genoa which would be difficult for someone to acquire if not located in close proximity to Genoa. Also the original recipe is done in a pestle and mortar not a food processor as indicated here:
*1 large handful of Basil leaves only (stems removed)
*3 garlic cloves
*1 tablespoon of pinoli nuts
*2 tblsps of Parmigiana Reggiano (Aged for 24 months) grated
*1/2 tblsp of Pecorino Sardo
*pinch of sea salt
*7-8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil ( I recommend an artisan extra virgin olive oil-Badia a Coltibuono)
Remove leaves from stems of basil. Wash and dry gently. Finely chop the garlic. Finely grind the pinolli nuts. Finely chop the basil. In food processor, place in basil, garlic, pinoli nuts, cheeese. Place in olive oil a little at a time. If the pesto is too thick add in a bit of water to thin out.
Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene….
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For more recipes get the book that won the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards as teh Best Italain Cuisine Book in America 2009- The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions