Authentic flavor  August 2010
   

Fancy some focaccia

Perfectly spongy and greasy, without being heavy, focaccia is often eaten in Italy as an aperitivo on the beach with a nice glass of beer. It can even be served for breakfast, dipped in a cup of caffé latte. The people of Genoa believe that focaccia is delicious in just about any occasion. Try it yourself.

Not to miss…

Five temples of focaccia

Panificio Moltedo in Recco has been serving its famous focaccia for over two centuries. (Via XX Settembre 2-4 e via Assereto 5; tel. 018574046/202). Authenticity is key at Tossini where handmade focaccia has been made for generations. Tossini focaccia is sold in multiple locations: one is in Recco. (Via Assereto 7; tel. 0185 74137). You can eat an excellent farinata at Luchin (via Bighetti 55; tel. 0185 371092) in the center of Chiavari. Not far away is Bruno e Pietro (Corso Dante  22; tel. 0185305132) where you can try some of the best focaccia Genovese. Good quality focaccia is also available in the town of Manarola, at the bakery named La Cambusa (Via Birolli 114; tel. 0187.921029) where it is baked fresh every morning.

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Plain. Or with olives, or rosemary or even pesto. With a place of salumi or dipped in caffé latte, focaccia genovese is heavenly, any way you cut it. (Pun intended.) Neither too thick, nor too thin, with a crispy edge on top, it is hard to believe that focaccia from Genoa is made with only flour, extra virgin olive oil, water and coarse salt. Although it seems simple enough, bakers must make sure the dough rises in just the right way, kneading the dough with expertise and making deep and uniform holes with their fingertips to collect the oil. And before putting the foccacia in the oven, it must be sprinkled with coarse sea salt.

Focaccia

Farinata, also known as the cousin of focaccia, is also on the list of must-try Italian foods. Made with chickpea flour, water and olive oil, farinata is traditionally from Liguria where the rules for its production were written down in the 15th century. Once considered food for the poor, consumed instead of bread, farinata provided people with important nutrients, like vitamin B and C, as well as phosphorus. Farinata is made in a wood oven using special pans or copper baking sheets, allowing for it to be fried at a high temperature. The best farinata comes from the town of Chiavari.

Focaccia

To find the best “fugassa,” however, one must head to the eastern part of the Ligurian coastline. Here, focaccia is made using stracchino cheese, tucked between two thin layers of unleavened dough, covered in olive oil. Although this may seem like an exaggeration, the only place you will find cheese focaccia with just the right consistency and flavor is in the town of Recco. People have been coming to Recco since the 19th century to eat the local specialty, served both in restaurants and to-go. Once you try it, there is no going back.

Traditionally, focaccia makers cooked the cheese-filled dough on covered slate rock. This preparation dates back centuries, probably to the third crusade. For a period of time, the focaccia was only made on November 2nd in commemoration of the deceased. Thanks to Manuelina, an ambitious 19th century chef, focaccia became popular throughout Italy. It is a simple and healthy product, made with just a few ingredients. It is hardly sophisticated, yet quite difficult to reproduce. The secret is in the ingredients and the hands of the bakers who stretch out the dough. Visit Recco, Avegno, Camogli or Sori to taste a slice…or two.

Silvia Ugolotti – Photo: Marzia Gandini

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“Fancy some focaccia”

  1. Bread and Blogger says:

    Thanks for the Focaccia info. Will have to try making it some time. Here’s a pretty good recipe for bruschetta: http://www.lisciosbakery.com/blog/?p=80

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