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The cuisine of Liguria is fragrant and flavorful using the fruits of land and sea. The hills offer a myriad of porcini mushrooms and pine nuts, while the sea provides delicious anchovies. These ingredients are combined with other staples, most notably the region's delicate olive oil and fragrant herbs to create the region’s favorite dishes: braised salt cod, stewed rabbit, and an array of subtle pasta sauces. Seafood aside, Liguria’s most famous dish is pesto - that fragrant blend of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, pecorino and Parmesan cheeses, and olive oil. It’s often served with green beans and potatoes, and is best sampled with the local pasta. Liguria is also the birthplace of focaccia (a thick bread made with olive oil, usually salted or topped with softened onions or olives, but also made with a variety of other toppings). Focaccia con formaggio is another must-try (two layers of pastry oozing with Stracchino cheese). Ligurians also have a way with fresh anchovies.
Ligurian Pesto with Spaghetti
Other dishes to look for include pansotti (pasta parcels sometimes stuffed with a paste of wild herbs that grow on the coast and cheese, and served with a walnut sauce or with olive oil and sage), cima ripiena (stuffed cold veal), pesce al sale (fish coated in rock salt and oven baked), polpo in umido con potate (octopus stew with potatoes and olives), torta verde (layers of thin pastry filled with vegetables, often spinach), capponata (bread soaked in vinegar with a mix of anchovies, tuna, eggs, basil, tomatoes, and beans), and the ever-present fritto misto alla ligure (mixed selection of fried shellfish and calamari).
The region is not famous for fine wines, but there are a few exceptions, like Rossesse, a delicious red from a small region near San Remo. The Cinque Terre is better known for its whites, of which Vermentino is serviceable but don’t leave without sampling a really good Sciacchetrà, the dessert wine from the Cinque Terre.