Thursday, October 13, 2016

Leaving Liguria


La Spezia, October 10, 2016—

A SIMPLE LUNCH today in one of the tourist-overridden villages of the Cinque Terre, where we bypassed a number of cafes and restaurants lower down the main street in Monterosso and found a delightful sandwich shop away from the crowd.

Here I had a nice green salad: lettuces, basil, cucumber slices, and tomato wedges, all jumbled in a half-liter preserving jar, to be dumped out onto my plate and dressed as I like with olive oil and salt. (I generally ignore the bottle of "Balsamic vinegar.")


Afterward, a specialty I've been wanting for days to sample: farinata. This is simply a pancake made with chick-pea flour, say a foot in diameter and a fat quarter-inch thick, hot off the griddle and rich with olive oil.

Ligurian cuisine is close to that of Nice; farinata is basically the same thing as soca. I like it very much indeed.

A glass of white wine

La Prosciutteria delle 5 Terre, via Roma 43, Monterosso


FOR DINNER we went to Inferno, literally, a half-basement-level grotto under low vaulted ceilings, clearly catering to a local and not necessarily wealthy clientele. 

I began with a distinctly working-class dish: Mesciua, bean-and-farro soup, rich and textural with white beans big and small and crunchy-succulent whole grains of that interesting antique wheat.

 Hans and I went on to stockfish with potatoes, served in a richly flavored stew of tomatoes, onions, peppers, and olives, with the blandest polenta I've ever encountered on the side — a good idea, thought I: one wants to sop up every bit of this dish.


Dessert: Zuppa inglese, custardy cake, damp with rum, coated with dark dark chocolate. Yes.

White wine in carafe

All'Inferno dall'1905, Via Lorenzo Costa 3, La Spezia; +39 018729458

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