Italy - They do things differently in Liguria

Lucio's Ligurian Kitchen- Lucio Galletto and David Dale

By Tricia Brown
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Lucio's Ligurian Kitchen by Lucio Galletto and David Dale

Lucio's Ligurian Kitchen by Lucio Galletto and David Dale [©Allen & Unwin]

This gorgeous book by Lucio Galletto and David Dale with stunning photography by Paul Green not only makes you so hungry you want to start cooking immediately but also to leap onto a plane and visit every one of the small towns along the Ligurian coast in Italy.

Covering the dishes of the Levante coast from Bocca di Magra, where Lucio's mother, father, aunt and uncle still have a family restaurant, to Recco, famous for its focaccia stuffed with a sharp creamy cheese, the stories about each town along the Italian Riviera are interesting and quirky. For those not interested in the recipes, this makes for a great read and the photographs are beautiful.

The recipes invite you to join in and discover the flavour of life on the Ligurian coast as Sydney-based restaurateur Lucio returns to discover how regional cooking has evolved during his 25 year absence. Some of the recipes could be called "cucina povera" as they can be traced back to the poorest farmers and fishermen. However it is certainly not poor cooking but rather the sum of years of traditional family cooking experience. Other recipes are more sophisticated creations bringing 21st century reinvention to regional classics that came from peasant origins born out of poverty and isolation.

The philosophy of simplicity shines through in the recipes with quality of the produce being the key to it all. The Ligurians remain dedicated to sourcing their food supplies close to home. Outstanding regional produce includes chestnuts, mushrooms, herbs, anchovies, olives, radicchio, artichokes and eggplants to name but a few as the list is long.

The fact that there is a whole chapter in the book devoted to pies may surprise.

"It's an ancient argument: which came first, the pie or the raviolo? Is a raviolo a small pie, or is a pie a big raviolo that is baked instead of boiled? Either one is a testament to the Ligurian habit of stuffing stuff inside other stuff, to be sure nothing is wasted."

The pies all look and sound incredible, in particular the whitebait frittata and the capsicum pie. The octopus and olive pie sounds intriguing with the octopus tartlet sure to impress any dinner guests.

The pasta section has detailed instructions on making pasta and favourites such as His Majesty the Pesto, along with my favourite - spinach ravioli with sage butter - which has such a wonderful photograph you just want to eat it right off the page. At this point you will need to raid the fridge before continuing!

While seafood is in abundance, meat is rare in Liguria and so it is very carefully cooked, often with few ingredients. Recipes are adapted to suit Australian availability but urge you to be adventurous as in the two rabbit recipes. The vegetables and salads chapter is long as the Ligurian climate is perfect for growing vegetables and salad ingredients. From the simplest of salads - pear, rocket and parmesan - to pan-fried radicchio, these recipes shine with high quality, fresh ingredients and delightful combinations. If you make it to the last chapter, desserts range from the simple to the challenging but it's hard to go past the stuffed peaches with amaretti biscuits or the luscious rhubarb and ricotta tart.

Lucio's journey is about good food, good wine, in the company of friends - how much better can life get!


Lucio's Ligurian Kitchen by Lucio Galletto and David Dale is published by Allen & Unwin. RRP A$65 and Winepros members and subscribers can buy Lucio's Ligurian Kitchen through our online book partner Seekbooks at a 12.5 percent discount on the RRP, plus postage.



  • Sydney (NSW)

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