Summer, is a familiar, joyful term for Italians living along the coast of Mediterranean. The sun, heat and the salty ocean breeze always manage to beautifully enlighten the mood of anybody, who happens to pass by.
Nothing compares to wandering around a small, delicate Italian town surrounded by gorgeous chapels and peaceful residences, with the background of a continuous mountain range behind. The beautiful beaches and the friendly people of Imperia, Liguria have made me extend my stay.
Following a stoney path down the hill, I encountered a lively neighborhood with a street filled with friends, families and lovers dining underneath the sunset. The sweet tone of Italian language and the smell of “fungi”, tomato sauce, mozzarella and tortellini broke down my resistance and opened up my appetite.
The middle age woman wearing a pair of big round shell-made earrings greeted us with a big sunny smile.
The warm mediterranean air and the near-tropical climate gave Liguria a good condition for growing olives, wine grapes, herbs(especially basil), garlic, zucchini and artichokes. Also due to its shared border with France and the long coastline mixed passionate personality of the locals, the cuisine in this area naturally has a homey, down to earth flavor with an interesting influence of French cuisine.
Within 10 minutes, antipastos came. A thirty percent done capriccio, dipped in fresh olive oil and south-east italian vinegar and a bruschetta With Goat Cheese & Mashed Fava Beans. All very local ingredients and you can tell right away that this is from a skillful Italian housewife in the countryside. Then the main dishes, a spaghettini with Mediterranean shrimp, tomatoes and basil leaves with a spread of bread crumbs on top, and a slow-baked pasta with mascarpone(an italian cheese simply made from heavy cream) and sausage. The originality and simplicity of these dishes truly drew my heart along with my stomach away.
The italian hostess, constantly running in and out of the kitchen serving families and chitchatting about anything. Laughters, joy and the soft, appreciating sound of “Grazie” surrounds the restaurant. At that point, I discovered that this is not simply a restaurant, it is the kitchen and the dining room of this village.
These people live with heat and passion, always facing the optimistic side of the sun. They build their homes and families with acceptance, kindness, passion, and more importantly, a big smile. Life and the cuisine here is simple and pure, but everything about it, is genuine.