un giro intorno nord italia (part iii) it's been a busy october. maybe it's the chill in the air or the fact that the sun disappears into the horizon just a little earlier each evening, but this seems to be the month for weekend getaways. this weekend: genova. (milano too, but i didn't take any photos.) lunch da maria, a truly working-class, casalinga hole-in-the-wall. red-and-white-checked paper tablecloths and everything. bustling, popular and cheap: three courses will set you back all of €12. the place is hidden away in an ascending alleyway just off one of the main avenues in the center of genova. it's a rabbit warren of rooms leading into other rooms leading to stairways that bring you back to where you started from. we unfortunately showed up too late to get a full selection from the scribbled menu (on a crumpled, food- and wine-stained scrap of paper) -- two-thirds of the items were crossed out. as you can see at the top, they also post menu items behind the cash register. the register itself is plastered with thank yous and raves from patrons in a babel's worth of languages. we were asked, 'pasta?' and 'sì, grazie' brought us plates of noodles with pesto. not anything to get real excited about, but serviceable enough. and we were starved. the first dish above is a type of involtini, or pork rolled up with some kind of stuffing -- this one with lots of breadcrumb. i had the faraona, or guinea hen. which had some of the darkest meat i've ever seen, and though, by all appearances it seemed like it was going to be overcooked, it was delicious. they like french fries down here. and yes, the fries are glistening because they're greasy. and no, this shit is probably not good for me. i stopped at the mercato orientale, which is full to bursting with mushrooms right now: and for dinner, we went to sa pesta, the much-loved, always full osteria in the old part of town: you can just make out the oven behind the guy on the right. this is where they make farinata (chickpea crêpe, sort of like the french riviera's socca) and torta di bietole, a savory tart with swiss chard, a very traditional dish down here. it's perhaps difficult to tell that these pans are both about 3 feet across and that the farinata in the oven is bubbling like crazy. here's a piece of that torta. the topping is a sort of sformato of ricotta (the cheese mixed with eggs, baked to produce a sort of soufflé-like result). we split the acciughe fritte, or fried anchovies as well. sublime. carla had the minestrone. ligurians don't limit pesto to just pasta -- it's used as a condiment for soup, particularly minestrone, and for boiled potatoes and green beans. (which are sometimes added to pastas, as well -- like that of da maria, which i forgot to mention.) and for primi, there was a choice of trofie or lasagna al sugo, ai funghi or col pesto. i helped myself to some of carla's trofie with pesto, but staring at all those mushrooms at the market put me in the mood for the funghi. it doesn't look like much, does it? oh, but it's good. these house-made trofie have great bite -- another example of excellent eggless pasta. i somehow had room for the torta di pinoli. not mind-blowing, not bad. last week, allison gifted us with some of stuff she picked up on stage in ireland. there was irish wild smoked salmon, and she'd also acquired darina allen's recipes for lamb pie and soda bread. how beautiful is the crust on that pie? actually, how beautiful is that soda bread? we also threw in some brussels sprouts and turnips, cooked with guanciale (hey, the irish would eat guanciale too if they could). we haven't stopped talking about that dinner since. the crumble degustation didn't hurt either. from left, clockwise: apple, quince (from the villa we stayed in outside of cortona) and peach (the late-harvest peaches of leonforte, no less). and because no posting is complete without the elephant that was hanging out on via cavour last week, helping himself to aperitivo snacks. well, he was really here with the circus that just blew into bra, and i guess the circus people think it's good advertising to walk him to the center of town and get all the kiddies worked up about the wild (or sadly, not) beasts. (the downside: walking to the center a few days later, i came upon an enormous pile of elephant poo. sucks for the person whose door it was left in front of. what do you do with a turd that's like knee-high and a foot across? everyone's first question: did it smell? not that bad, actually. could be worse.)


Anonymous daisy said...

i'm about to bike out to russo's and go shopping . . . wish i had some of those mushrooms so i can complete my squash-(mushroom) risotto. so beautiful.

10/17/2005 01:46:00 PM  

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