After the delicious meal last night at Officina del Gusto I found it very hard to sleep. I was very thirsty and I didn’t feel so good. I wonder why.
Today started out nice, a little warm sunshine early. It was interesting to see how fast they were
working to clear the beaches (what you call beaches here is pathetic, really,
much better in Lazio), there was about a meter of seaweed and wood and rubbish,
and the men were working hard because they were working for the stabilimenti balneari, the kind of
depressing bathing clubs where so many Italians like to go and lay out on
concrete aprons over the rocks. This to
me is the big problem with the Riviera.
It began to rain after a while, so I went for a little wine shopping at a friend of Filippo, Giovanni, who has a very good enoteca on via Venezia, about 2 minutes from this hotel. It is called in Genovese dialect Càntina du Pùssu (Cantina del Pozzo in Italian, which means Wine Cellar of the Well because there is an old well near by). Giovanni has many biodynamic and biologic [organic] wines, about 30% but the percentage is growing. He says these wines have more local character and often times a much more pure and clear flavour. I agree. I agree so much I spent too much money. But some of it was for Filippo and his wife Elena, who is about to have a baby at any moment. And Giovanni gave me a discount because I mentioned Filippo. (Don’t go there and try that trick.)
Late in the afternoon I went up in the hills to Filippo and Elena’s
house, and you see, boss, I have taken beautiful photos of the
surroundings. A spectacular view! Best of all to me were the aromas of the
Mediterranean countryside, all spice and herb scents, with flowers like bougainvillea
Up from the terrace
After we talked for a few hours, we went down to Filippo’s home town of
Chiavari, a place that I like much better than Rapallo, which has no real character
and seems to be a place of faded glory (and a lot of rich retired people with
sour expression). The restaurant was
very casual and nice, kind of a little family spot, with the generic name Vino e Cucina, wine and cooking. It was very good. The wine cellar is great – all sort of wines
that are hard to find even in Italy, top quality for reasonable price.
The wine was a beautiful Pinot
Noir from Alto Adige, 1997 Niedrist (did I
get it right?), a perfect balance of power, elegance, earthiness and
fruit. No oak at all. Impressive!
Then for dessert a tarte of bitter oranges served with a Moscato di
Sicilia, 1997 Lago di Venere (Lake Venus),
So there was my second day in Liguria.
A sort of dreary day which was good for
sleeping, then a beautiful evening with lovely people who have a joy for
life. And good friends in the wine and food
business, ça va sans dire!
Now I am ready to move to the hotel, the imposing Excelsior Palace, where TigullioVino’s manifestazione will be tomorrow. This event has about 90 producers coming in only its 4th year; Filippo has built this thing from nothing, very amazing for such a young guy. Some excellent producers, too, including some from France (Usseglio for example, which I know you like). I can’t wait!
Today, however, I take the train to Sestre Levante and meet the one and only Aristide, where we will go up into the hills to visit the blogger and friend Luk (Luca Risso), who is a young businessman who has started to grow his own grapes. You can tell where his heart lies! A lot of bloggers will be there, a mini-manifestazione of them! I feel honoured to be accepted among them. (I know they are nice to me because of you, Mr. H., don’t worry, I won’t usurp your place. Eh eh.) [Better not forget that, kid.]
Ciao, a presto!