Celebrating Pesto and Ligurian Gastronomy in Lavagna
October 27, 2010 by Anna Merulla
About two weeks ago we had a great weekend at the annually Culinary Festival “Pesto e Dintorni” (Pesto and Surroundings) in Lavagna, a little town on the Italian Riviera.
Why the Festival is called “Pesto and Surroundings” – “Pesto e Dintorni” ?
The annual Festival is open exclusively to products from Liguria, creating a project agreed upon by the regional administration and all the local trade organizations. In addition the landmark sauce, the event seeks to highlight the ‘wonderful seven’ products that go into it: basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, pine nuts, pecorino and grana cheeses.
Why ‘Surrounding Tastes’
The ‘surrounding tastes’ section of the event includes all the other typical specialty food from the area, which best complement the flavor of the pesto, seafood and all the other typical regional specialty foods are available, the whole paired at best with local wines, from Vermentino, to Pigato and Rossese, among others.
This year “Pesto e Dintorni” Festival was at its 7th edition and, since in past I never partecipated to it yet, I decided it was time to take part. But I wasn’t prepared for how wonderful it was. Located in the historical centre of Lavagna, surrounded by focaccerie, restaurants and pastry shops, this Festival hosts over 100 exhibitors that produce exclusively typical Ligurian products, from the authentic pesto sauce to the traditional pasta, which emphasize the sauce’s taste, to the wine and other specialities which are part of the liguiran cuisine.
At the Festival I was with other friends food lovers, and we went there to taste and buy some good products for our Sunday lunch. Of course, we’ve tasted little bruschette with pesto sauce. Every year all the producers guarantee that the pesto sauce that they produce is made following strictly the official recipe, using exclusively DOP or extra virgin olive oil and basil from Genoa DOP. “Genoese Pesto sauce“ recipe.
Wandering through the several food exhibitors, we’ve tasted the taggiasche olives. This quality of olives are typically ligurian from the western Riviera, they are dark-green and small size. Of course, once we’ve bite one taggiasca olive, or other typical products, the farmers started to tell us how they grow their goods, how hard work and passion was behind their productions.
Naturally October is the chestnut season, so there were inviting chestnut jams and chestnut liquor. Then, we’ve tasted also many different types of honey and the pandolce genovese. The Genoese pandolce is a traditional flat fruit cake, sold in every pastry shop in Genoa made with pine nuts, raisins, fennel seeds, and a scent of orange flower water.
Finally, after tasting and deciding, we bought taglierini, a pasta similar to tagliatelle but it is a thinner version, pesto sauce, some artichokes in oil and cheese. Then, among the little alleys of Lavagna we entered in a bakery and bought some focaccia and bread.
Back at home we spent, as good italian people, half of a day on lunch and enjoyed the company and food.
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For Gastronomic Tours in Liguria ask Beautiful Ligur