The Italians’ love of food is no secret, with every region laying claim to having the best cuisine. Liguria is no exception. The difference, thanks to the area’s geographical position and passionate local producers however, is that they might just be right.
Stretching from the French border and squeezed between the Ligurian Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, the Ligure region’s resulting mineral-rich soil produces an abundance of stellar produce: porcini mushrooms, hazelnuts, olives, grapes, citrus fruits, wild herbs (chiefly basil and rosemary) and much more.
These ingredients are then put to use to create super delicious Italian classics, including some of Italy’s finest extra virgin olive oil and wine, as well as specialities that are almost impossible to find beyond these shores. Specialities like the Margheritine, a soft, buttery, “daisy” shortbread made with toasted hazelnuts sold exclusively by a handful of bakeries in Santa Margherita Ligure. You’ll also discover delightfully unique honey flavours, a reflection of the bees’ exploration of its aromatic plants and fruits.
The most famous product Liguria has given the world, however, is pesto. Made with wild pine nuts and garlic grown in the forested hills, fresh basil, Parmigiano and pecorino cheeses, salt and the region’s famously fruity olive oil. Trust us when we say this herby sauce is the best in the world. Just try local speciality Pasta alla Genovese and see for yourself. And then there’s the dreamy focaccia: the oily, herby, crispy bread eaten either on its own or topped with cheese, onions or olives.
Over on the coast, the Italian Riviera’s 350km shore is lined with picturesque fishing villages and filled with generations of fisherfolk who supply the region with its greatest culinary gift, the Santa Margherita Ligure red shrimp. The wonderfully sweet, meaty crustaceans are eaten by the bucket load here either raw (with oil and salt), boiled, barbecued or in pasta or risotto. Nearly 200 tonnes of these beauties are caught off the coast each year and served in the village’s waterfront restaurants alone.
With so many speciality dishes made with the region’s high-quality produce, plus the blend of French and Italian cooking styles, it’s easy to see why Ligure deserves some serious foodie recognition. But don’t just take our word. Go there, try everything and make your own mind up. All that pesto and focaccia isn’t going to eat itself you know.