I adore Italy to visit, the architecture, the countryside, the people and most importantly the food! When planning my holiday to Genova, Italy with the lovely Julianne from Part Time Passport Blog, I knew that we needed a food tour as a part of exploring the city. It was Julianne’s 30th birthday the month before our trip so I bought spaces on a tour with Do Eat Better for a traditional food tour for her birthday gift and gift to myself.
The Day of The Tour
I find food tours a great way to explore the city not just through the dishes shared but the stories and history picked up from the local guide. Marina was our lovely friendly guide and we luckily had her to ourselves for the afternoon which meant more like a friend showing us around for lunch than a formal setting.
First stop was in the shadows of Cattedrale di San Lorenzo was a quintessential item to start our tour. Focaccia from Focacceria San Lorenzo, apparently the secret ingredient is the local water and pork lard (veggie options available) but this gives the bread a wicked crunch.
We collected our focaccia and like true locals sat between the mournful-looking lions guarding the Cathedral on the cool marble steps. We tried two types, plain warm from the oven with plenty of salt and olive oil and one with plenty of buttery soft onions. Both delicious and made me wish it was my local treat spot.
Next, nearer the marina, we stopped at Friggitoria San Giorgio, where big paper cones are served full to the brim with a mix of fried fish, calamari and shellfish in a light batter and a large wedge of fresh lemon to squeeze all over. You see people walking and munching on these crisp and tender delights.
The lunch stop was one which we had passed on our first morning but was closed, so delighted we got to visit Locanda Tortuga for dream filled focaccia. With the day being a bit of a scorcher of 31 degrees in September, the cool crisp white wine was a very welcomed relief from the heat outside. We got to watch huge pillows of proved focaccia being shaped and knocked to be filled with a whole host of local ingredients.
Working through levels of the saltiness of the fillings and toppings starting with the delicious warmup act of the Plain Fried with Olive Oil and Sea Salt. On to the gooey Stracchinio Cheese filled with the local soft cow’s milk cheese that was so runny and melted goodness it had trouble staying on the plate. Creamy and salty with the crisp of the bread, divine! How can you improve on the divine, I hear to ask, well of course by topping it with buttery pink ribbons of Italian cured ham on top of course! The quality of the ingredients just shines through to making something truly special. For me, the star of the show was the Pecorino sprinkled with black truffle oil drizzle. The earthy wood note from the truffle for the decadence and the salt crystal studded cheese to nearly bring me to tears of joy.
Then to finish the focaccia fest, the Stracchinio cheese filling with Olives and Anchovies with a rich tomato sauce for a salt lovers dream. Once again, having a chilled white wine to hand to save the day and balance the saltiness with the gentle sweetness.
No food tour to Genova would be complete with sampling Genovese pesto. After our filled focaccia we made room for Locanda Tortuga’s Testaroli Pasta with Genovese Pesto. Known as silk napkin or apron/skirt pasta as the dough is cut into the shape of the ladies skirts who make the pasta. A thick pasta into rough triangle shapes which with a larger surface area is perfect to be coated with so much more of the vibrant emerald green and white flecked glistering pesto. If you haven’t had fresh pesto, then you haven’t lived.
Onwards and a step back into time to Pasticceria Liquoreria Marescotti di Cavo, which since 1880, Amaretti di Voltaggio has been serving coffee, pastries, and liquor in their beautiful space. Glass cabinets holding all sorts of intriguing bottles of liquors and wines as well as the glass cabinets holding the sugary creations.
Baci di Dama or Hazelnut Kisses, to give us a sugar pick me up after all the pasta and focaccia. Crumbly hazelnut biscuits sandwiched with dark chocolate. Perfect with a bitter espresso to recharge your batteries.
We also tried the beautiful Sacripantina Torte, layers of Genovese Sponge soaked with Marsala Wine and layered with buttercream with a coat of more sponge crumbs. Rich and decadent whilst being light with beaten cream, the marsala wine gave the dessert a boozy heady flavour. Normally larger versions served at celebrations and have got me to think I might have to request one for my next birthday.
We reluctantly peeled ourselves away from the cool Pasticceria back into the still roasting heat, luckily for us, our endpoint was somewhere even cooler. Gelatina, you got it, for gelato! A really cool space where food and images come together in the historic centre. The ethics of Gelatina is based on respect for the producers of raw materials and the search for traditional recipes or unprecedented work, which invite the consumer to live a full taste experience in the first bookstore in Italy about food. Faced with a glittering gelato cabinet, we had the tough job of selecting one gelato to have an espresso poured over the top for a top-notch affogato. I went with the Hazelnut Gelato for a nutty, creamy affogato. I just love the combination of the hot coffee and softening ice cream. Nice spot to take in the going on’s in the street, whilst our pace slowed right down.
We had such a wonderful time with Marina, she gave us such brilliant recommendations for places to go for a drink and dinner, which I’ll share with you in a follow-up post. She was just a great host that set us at ease and so friendly, it was truly like having lunch with our friend. Would highly recommend a food tour when you go travelling as writing this up as made me so hungry again. Check out what tours are available when travelling. If there isn’t one or feeling adventurous why not build your own food tour.
Have you been on a food tour before?
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