Our bookalokal experiences so far have been limited to the town where it was born and where we live: Brussels. But over Easter we had an opportunity to attend a verification meal just outside the town we were visiting in Italy: Genova. It was too good to pass up, so last Friday evening we drove 30 minutes north of Genova to the small town of Ronco Scrivia, where we were met by Stefano who led us to a house perched atop a hill just above town. There Olivia was waiting for us in their warm and cosy little farmhouse where she had prepared us a Friulian-Ligurian feast.
“Spritz”s were served as we settled in and got to know each other. Olivia is originally from Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and moved to Liguria a few years back to be with her husband Stefano who’s a local. They got the idea to try bookalokal from a friend who lives in Brussels.
Stefano is about to start a new hobby: apiculture, and will be making his own honey. But this night Olivia was responsible for the food, including her own homemade bread.
We chatted about our backgrounds and experiences with different areas of Italy and Brussels and their respective cuisines and cultures. Our hosts were chatty and friendly and the conversation flowed smoothly. Then the starter arrived: a small potato and leek souffle with melted cheese. The cheese was a Friulian speciality called Montasio, and the thyme had been picked outside on the mountain that day. Lovely. Light but tasty.
The “primo” was fresh homemade pasta of a shape called “maltagliati” (literally “badly cut”) with local and freshly picked rosemary, fried pancetta and a grating of smoked ricotta. Great comfort food, but the icing on the cake, as it were, was the amazing smoked ricotta whose perfume lifted the whole dish to another level.
The pasta had been pretty filling but we managed to fit in a large piece of meat for “secondo”: veal cutlets wrapped in San Daniele ham and topped with sauteed Ligurian porcini mushrooms. The meat was meltingly tender and beautifully set off by the smoky tang of the funghi.
The main meal had been accompanied by a very nice Refosco red wine, but for the dessert we were treated to another Friulian speciality: a sweet wine called Ramandolo.
Pre-dessert was little coconut cakes.
But the main attraction was an amazing lemon cream cake. Perfection. Crusty on the outside, moist and creamy on the inside. I couldn’t fit in a second slice but I was sorely tempted.
Initially Olivia had suggested that we come earlier in the day, have lunch, and then they’d take us for a guided walk through the mountains. Unfortunately that didn’t work with our schedule but it’s a shame as that would have been a great way to get to know the area a little better and spend a little more time relaxing with our hosts. Next time…