Focaccerias in Celle Ligure

On our way down the Ligurian coast, we stopped by another sea-side town to fill up on carbs. Really, with so many great focaccerias along the way, how could we not? We got off the autostrada at a sign that led to Celle Ligure.

Because of our hunger, we were lured into a cafe for a coffee and some focaccia.  The cafe looked bustling and there seemed to be a high turnover of slices of focaccia, but when we bit into the focaccia, something was missing.

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About a block of walking later, we found this little shop crowded with people and with a line going out the door.  I stepped in and saw people against the window waiting patiently with numbered tickets in their hand while other people at the counter were dictating their orders. I grabbed a number from their ticket machine and joined in the wait.

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This focacceria was Serious Business.  While waiting, we saw them bring out many trays of the freshly baked bread.  The one that spoke to me in particular was this pesto and cheese one.  Usually, I’m a fiend for cured meats, but even the thinly sliced meat on the adjacent focaccia couldn’t lure me away form this pesto one.

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One bite and I was sold. The cheese was soft and oozing. The pesto was fresh tasting, savory, and went perfectly with the bread. Now that I’m writing this, I’m sorry I didn’t smuggle some in my luggage.

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Will definitely missed out on the pesto and cheese focaccia, but he made out alright with a plain one and a potato one. The potato one had thinly sliced potatoes, lots of salt, and some rosemary.

Bussana Vecchia (Italy)

Bussana Vecchia is a 100 year old ghost town in Liguria only a few kilometers from the border of France. If we had known how far it actually was from Parma, we probably wouldn’t have booked the bed and breakfast there.  But since we didn’t, we made the drive up the Ligurian coast, up a treacherous, too-narrow mountain road to the bottom of the medieval town.

We had to park our car at the bottom of the town and walk the rest of the way up because there was no way it could make it through the narrow cobblestone path.  We located our bed and breakfast, Apriti Sesamo, at the top of the small town and checked in. The proprietor was in the kitchen and showed us our room upstairs.  While he was doing that, he mentioned making sure the mosquito netting was closed when the window was open to prevent mosquitos from going in.

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Judging by the fact that we were up till three in the morning battling giant, loud, mosquitos that kept trying to eat us alive through our ears, I don’t think the mosquito netting worked.

We had dinner our first night at the B&B. Because it was such a nice night, we ate outside.  The dining room was right below our bedroom window and we could smell the food from the bedroom while it was being prepared.

I started with the octopus salad, which was more potato than octopus, but still fairly good. The potatoes were flavorful and soft, as were the octopus. Both were drenched with rich olive oil — probably not the most healthiest of salads.

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Will had an appetizer that was described as crostini with olive and artichoke spread. What came out was jarred olive spread and artichoke spread served on melba toast.

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As a main, I had some local fish, prepared the B&B’s preferred way, which was sauteed with tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil.  It was simple, but delicious. The fish was cooked to the perfect done-ness.

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Will had their pasta with garden vegetables (straight from their garden), which was mostly tomatoes and red bell pepper. We both thought the serving size was incredibly small for the price (about $20).

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We found this B&B through some searching for vegetarian meals in Italy. It turns out that  Apriti Sesamo ‘s restaurant serves only organic ingredients. Being this remote, and having such a low turnover, I think this is to their detriment.  The food was expensive and in the case of the melba toast crostini, not so delicious.  The room was also expensive for what it was: full of mosquitos, and no hot water at night.

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I’m usually not fussy when it comes to accommodations, but for the price we paid to stay in that room, I would have liked less mosquitos (or even a real mosquito net) and some hot water. Or at least some warning on their site about the possibility of no hot water.  I guess we should be lucky that there’s even running water in this medieval town B&B.

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Other than the uncomfortable accommodations, the town itself was fun to explore.  The view from the window was great.  The run down alleyways were cool, and at night, at the bottom fo the town, there’s a pretty popular restaurant that serves grilled meat outside.

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When I got there, all the tables outside were full and it was a 30 minute wait to get seated.  Tempted by the delicious smelling meat on the grill, I asked if I could just buy two skewers of meat to munch on while standing.  The waiter was nice and  yoinked two skewers and gave them to me free of charge.  I believe they were lamb and they were every bit as delicious as they smelled.

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Bussana Vecchia is probably not somewhere we’d visit again just because there’s not much to do up there after a day and it’s just so far from the rest of Italy, but it made for an interesting adventure.

Apriti Sesamo
Ristorante Naturale

The Varied Focaccia in Camogli

We found ourselves stopped in the small fishing village of Camogli for a few hours while driving up the Italian coast. Since it was between breakfast and lunch, and we didn’t want to eat too much for lunch, Will and I ended up noshing on a variety of focaccia, which must be the official bread in Liguria.

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There was thin, delicate focaccia with a heavenly melted cheese in the center. The top layer of the focaccia was so thin that the cheese just oozed up over the top.

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Then there was olive focaccia with good olives.

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Then there was anchovies on tomato focaccia, which was full of savory saltiness.

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Then there was my favorite, fresh sardine focaccia, that tasted rich, oily, and reminded me of the sea.

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Then there was my second favorite, the porcini and potato focaccia.  Will claimed that that slice of focaccia had as many porcini on it as he had in ten years prior to this.

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One of the best parts about stopping in at a focacceria is the no-nonsense of it. Point at the focaccia you want, indicate how big a slice you want, they cut it, weigh it, wrap it up in some paper, and give it to you to eat.  Instant gratification.

And you can hardly complain when you walk out of the bakery and you’re met with this view.

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