Well my initial plans to go to Berlin via the Balkans didn't work out. The Romanian Government wanted a visa from me to pass through for a few hours, so I decided to look elsewhere.
Skyscanner.net (great site - try it) found me a flight to Milan, then another to Berlin 5 days later. I e-mailed my friend Barbara, she invited me to Genoa, so I had 5 days in what I've decided is one of my favourite cities in the world.
I love Italian food, and cofee, and lifestyle. I hadn't been there for 5 years, but I do love it so, and feel really at home.
The espresso (espressi?) are fabulous. When I wasn't drinking the coffee made by Barbara in her little hexagonal stove top espresso pot, I was drinking it in little cafes and pastry shops, standing at the bar. The coffee came in angular little cups which were narrow at the base, wider at the top. I like mine best served as Espresso Macchiato - with a spoonful of milke foam on top. Like a mini cappucino, without diluting the creamy oily coffee beneath.
I am hooked.
Genoa/Genova is the home of the classic Pesto alla Genovese which is made with Basil grown in a particular area. I have been told carries with it a special certification. Barbara's mother gave me a pot to take on to Berlin with me, and it was wonderful with Gnocci.
Liguria, the province is the home of Focaccia. Barbara's friend Marco operates a fruit stall, and knows where to buy good food. He stocked up on some particularly good focaccia prior to a trip to Barbara's friend Paulo's house where we were planning to help harvest olives. Paulo's sister was 9 months pregnant so we changed plans at the last moment and headed for a drive down the italian riviera to a small hole in the wall restaurant. The focaccia went well with Cauliflower soup I'd made though, later that evening.
Here's a link to a focaccia recipe on Anna Maria Volpi's website. I haven't tried this myself (yet!) but it looks good.