(Photo shown: Alison Harris’ cover shot for Enchanted Liguria, which shows the church of San Rocco di Camogli)
The perched village of San Rocco di Camogli could fit in a picnic hamper, yet it boasts a famous bakery (Maccarini), a great butcher shop (Arturo Paolucci), a Michelin-praised restaurant (Nonna Nina) and a friendly little trattoria with fresh fish and a nice terrace and eager owners: Da Mirin. Co-owner Sandro does the cooking, while his wife and fellow proprietor, Elena, waits and runs the show.
Today Sandro whipped up some succulent fresh fish mousse with local olive oil, salt and pepper – not the creamy, heavy kind of mousse you get in fancy restaurants or in France. We nibbled on that with focaccia while waiting for the Pesto di Mare. This too is Sandro’s invention. First you clean and mince or process a bunch of fresh, fragrant basil, tossing in a fistful of plump pine nuts. Then you set the salsa aside. (Yes, salsa. In Italy, sugo = “sauce” and it is cooked, whereas salsa is raw, always). You take a handful of fresh, ripe tomatoes, simmer them at low heat in excellent olive oil, with a pinch each of salt and pepper. You prepare a couple of handfuls of fresh shrimp. You boil pasta like trenette or linguine or tagliolini or even fresh gnocchi. While the pasta is cooking, you toss the shrimp in with the tomatoes. A few seconds before the pasta is al dente, you take the sauce off the heat, put it in a serving bowl and stir in the salsa (the pesto of basil and pine nuts – no cheese, no garlic). Then you toss in the hot pasta and serve pronto. Awesome. Super, really, killer awesome.