Saturday, June 4, 2016

Ligurian Pigato with Pesto Focaccia and Shellfish

Food, Wine & Travel in Seaside Liguria

Genoa, Liguria Italy
Port of Genova, Liguria
Liguria, located on the northwest coast of Italy, bordering the French Riviera, is certainly a destination of choice for several reasons.  For one, you have access to two rivieras in one! Moreover, the Liguria region is downright gorgeous and picturesque with its mountains, rolling hills mountain villages and beaches that rest on its splendor along the Mediterranean and Ligurian Seas.  Ligura consists of four provinces: Genoa, home of Christopher Columbus (the capital and port city), Imperia, Savona and La Spezia, which is home to the infamous Cinque Terre. Three of the world famous resorts of Rapallo San Remo and Portofino are also located in Liguria.  
Cinque Terre: Monterosso
Ligurian Gastronomy
Genoa, Liguria Italy

Ligurian cuisine is a little different than what may be expected.  While the region has a seaside location and there is an abundance of fresh seafood, Ligurians do not eat as much frutti di mare as one might expect. Instead, Liguria is known for its vineyards, olive oil, pesto and ravioli.
Ligurian cuisine is characterized by fresh vegetables and aromatic herbs, like basil.  In fact, Genoa is notorious for its basil. Pesto, made with basil, is served in different pastas, namely ravioli, spaghetti, trenette (flat, thin pasta similar to linguini), gnocchi and fidelini. Pasta is a huge staple. In addition to the aforementioned, another favorite Ligurian pasta is corzeti, or fresh pasta made of leavened dough that is red from tomato and green by spinach, which gives the color and appearance of the Italian flag.

Stoccafisso (fish stew) and baccalà (salted cod) are typical fish dishes. Rabbit and veal are frequently eaten. Minestrone soup is rumored to have been born in Liguria.  Ligurian desserts incluce pane dolce, (bread made with pinenuts, raisins and fruit) and latte dolce fritto.  Olive oil and basil are protected in Liguria (DOP).


Ligurian Wine:

Liguria has 8 DOC appellationss: Cinque Terre and Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà, Colli di Luni, Colline di Levanto, Golfo del Tigullio-Portofino or Portofino, Pornassio or Ormeasco di Pornassio, Riviera Ligure di Ponente, Rossese di Dolceacqua or Dolceacqua, Val Polcevera.  It also has  IGT appellations: Colline del Genovesato, Colline Savonesi, Golfo dei Poeti La Spezia or Golfo dei Poeti, Terrazze dell’Imperiese.  According to the research and DNA, Pigato, Vermentino and Favorita are all from the same grape varietal and are native to Liguria.

We paired the following with our Ligurian wine:

Recipe: Pesto Focaccia (Pesto alla Genovese)

Homemade Focaccia Ingredients:

3 and 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra if needed
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the bowl and pizza pan
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped thyme
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Topping:
1/2 cup pecorino
1/2 cup parmigniano
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
Pesto sauce (recipe below or store brought)

Preheat the oven to 475°F (preferably with a baking stone in it).
Transfer the dough to a generously oiled round or square pizza pan and spread to the edges of the pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Drizzle with homemade pesto sauce (recipe below). Sprinkle the parmigiano and pecorino over the top. 

Bake the focaccia in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden on the top and bottom and lightly crisp. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, dusted with a the pecorino, according to taste. 

Homemade Pesto Ingredients:


2 cups basil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup parmesian cheese
3-4 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup of pine nuts (optional)

Procedure: Blend it all in a food processor, until it creates a paste. Drizzle on focaccia, or jar and refrigerate.

Recipe: Grilled Shellfish Medley (Shrimp, Scallops, Clams)


Ingredients:

4 lb of fresh mussels (or clams)
2 cups of dry white wine
4 cloves of garlic ( chopped)
4 shallots finely chopped
Freshly ground sea salt to taste (1/2 tsp)
Freshly ground white pepper
2-4 whole dried chili peppers OR 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes (adjust to taste)
6 tablespoons butter OR 3 tsp virgin olive oil

Procedure:

In a large pot (or pan, if grilling), combine the wine, shallots, garlic, and salt. Simmer 5 minutes on medium heat. Add clams, cover, and increase heat to high.  Cook until all clams are open. Stir in herbs and butter. Add shrimp and scallops.  Remove from heat.  Discard any clams that do not open. Garnish with parsley.  

Serve with pesto focaccia.  Serve immediately.
Disclosure:
This was eaten alone, as a pizza, not with the shellfish!

The Wining Hour's Ligurian Selection:


We chose a Pigato from Riviera Ligure di Ponente to accompany our Ligurian feast.  Pigato is basically a Vermentino.  This Pigato was from their 2013 Vendemmia and is from winemaker, Filippo Rondelli, and his Terre Bianche winery, which is located in the town of Dolceaqua. The winery is nearly 400 meters above sea level and is appropriately named “Terre Bianche,” as the surrounding soil is mostly of white clay.  However, they also have red clay soils and sandstone and produce red wines as well.


Terre Bianche's Riviera Ligure Ponente Pigato was yellow-gold in color.  It had floral and tropical fruit aromas, and was full of peach, green apple and melon on the palate.  This Italian white was soft, but with a lingering finish. This Pigato was truly packed with flavor, consisted of just the right minerality and notes of flint.  Riviera Ligure Ponente Pigato from Terre Bianche was a perfect match for the pesto focaccia and shellfish medley, but it would also pair well with fish, seafood and pasta dishes. Ultimately, it would be a good choice for an aperitivo.  

The Ligurian region is another favorite for so many reasons.  Read more about this seaside region and...

Join us this Saturday June 4th on Twitter live at 11am Est @ #ItalianFWT to chat about everything Liguria has to offer. 


Vino Travels - Wine & Sunshine on the Italian Riviera
The Wining Hour - Ligurian Pigato with Pesto Focaccia and Shellfish
Culinary Adventures with Camilla - Carciofi Crudi
Cooking Chat – Ligurian Pesto Pasta with Wine Pairing
Food Wine Click – Trofie al Pesto with Cinque Terre DOC
Girl's Gotta Drink – A Cinque Terre Alternative? 5 Less Touristy Italian Riviera Destinations
Rockin Red Blog – Two Hours in Ligura with #ItalianFWT
Avvinare– Liguria – Home to a Host of Unsung Wines
L'Occasion – Life is Good in Liguria

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