A couple of years ago my husband and I spent a wonderful week in Triora deep in the heart of Liguria, High up in the mountains about half an hour from the Ligurian coast it is a small medieval village famous for being the last place in Italy to hold witch trials. The locals like to milk their gruesome history as much as they can and there are witches everywhere you look. Walking round the dark tunnelled streets at night can be quite scary. However in the day time Triora is like any other village apart from the fact that every way you look there are views to die for. We stopped in a property we found on Owners Direct and I don’t think we will ever find another view better than we had from our balcony. Being near the French border we were able to nip into France and visit Monte Carlo to see how the other half live. We also visited The Hanbury Botanical Gardens on the Italian side of the French border.
You may be wondering what all this has to do with food. Well on this holiday I finally got to try authentic pesto Genovese (pesto from Genoa). Pesto is a pasta sauce made with basil, pine kernels, garlic, Parmigiano and Pecorino Sardo, olive oil and salt. according to tradition all the ingredients should be pounded together in a mortar. Many versions exist, 60 or so in the province of Genoa alone. One such is pesto d’inverno, winter pesto made with walnuts, cheese curd, parsley and chard in the months in which fresh basil is not available.
I have read that the best basil to use for true Pesto Genovese is grown in the hills to the west of Genoa in an area called Pra. The basil that grows there is quite small,with oval light green leaves that bow slightly downward. The plants are harvested when they are still young which contributes to the mildness and light colour. Genovese basil has recently become a government protected variety and can only be sold as authentic Basilico Genovese.