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A Tour of Italy in the Kitchen, Part 16: Liguria

Also known as the Italian Riviera, Liguria is a narrow tongue of land in Northwestern Italy (bordered by France) between the Appennines and sea.  The region includes impressive mountains and lovely rolling hills.  Overlooking the Ligurian Sea which attracts several specimens of sperm whales, rorquals and dolphins, who live safely in this area known as the “Sanctuary of Cetaceans.”

As you would imagine, seafood plays a large role with fresh caught anchovies being a favorite antipasti or main dish. Swordfish, Tuna, Sardines and Sea Bass are also popular fish. Rabbit, and Veal are found in popular meat dishes including Tomaxelle (Veal rolls), Coniglio in Umbido (Rabbit stew).

Ligurians love vegetables and aromatic herbs and their cooking is dense with flavors and aromas, from combinations rather than mixtures. One example is the “cappon magro” or thin capon which is constructed in the form of a pyramid made up of six or seven types of fish and vegetables cooked separately and then built layer by layer on a base of crackers and covered with a rich sauce based on olive oil and anchovies.

Liguria has still not made an impact on the wine front.  Reds include the fruity Rossese di Dolceacqua, a Dolcetto known as Ormeasco, and the dessert wine Sciacchetra Rosso. The white wines of Liguria are praised as some of the most unique, with the dry Cinque Terre and sweeter Sciacchetra being very popular and excellent with any seafood. The straw-yellow and very aromatic Colline di Levanto is just being discovered by wine lovers outside of Liguria. Spirits range from the citrus based Limoncello Ligure to walnut-infused Nocino and the ever-popular Grappa, still made at home in many areas of Liguria.

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