Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pesto Paradise

This past weekend Peter and I went to Genoa for some time away from Colorno. We had already booked a hotel and found a train, but the best part was that the weather was going to be sunny and 60 degrees!

We woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturday and made it to Genoa by 10:30am. Two of our classmates, Nick and Micheal decided to join us for the day. Pete and I couldn't check into our hotel until one so we all decided to explore the city together. The blue sky and palm trees were the first sights to greet us and instantly put smiles on our faces. The city is beautiful, an old port town with everything centered around the bay. It was a bustle with excitement and there were people everywhere, kids, dogs, people from the Middle-East, and strange and enticing aromas coming from street-food stands and back alleyways. It was in every way a hodgepodge of centuries worth of importing, people, goods, foods, and languages. Peter and Nick, both big eaters, made it their mission to eat something at every place we passed. Before siesta they had eaten two Doner Kebabs, a piece of foccacia, three scoops of gelato each, and un'etto (100 grams) of fried calimari.

Around three Pete and I bid our friends goodbye as they made their way back to Colorno and we retired to rest up for the night ahead, we had big plans. We had found a little restaurant off of the main drag earlier in the day that had been written up in the Michelin guide the past five years running so we knew we had to check it out for dinner. We started with an appetizer of steamed mussels, they were delicious and huge and the sweetest mussels I've ever eaten. Next was pesto genovese for me, I was pleasantly given a simple plate of al dente spaghetti with a hand-made pesto (none of that blended crap). The greatest joy came with the secondi, Peter and I couldn't make up our minds so we decided to share two plates, the mixed grilled seafood plate, and the gamberi rossi. The mixed grilled seafood was divine, everything was fresh and perfectly cooked (the plate included swordfish, grilled anchovies, sea bass, squid and shrimp). Peter had never before sucked the brains out of a prawn and so I inducted him into the club in the most wonderful way. These were not just prawns, these were the biggest, sweetest, almost lobster-like shrimp I have ever seen let alone tasted. Their meat was succulent and melted in your mouth. The brains were a sweet and juicy treasure, by far the single best morsel of the entire meal.
That night Peter and I took Genoa by storm. It started off slow, after all most Italians have dinner until close to midnight. We strolled for a while, walking off our meal by the water, enjoying the beauty of the port and all the boats lit up at night. We sat for a while on a long pier and just talked, about school, about our pasts and what got us to this moment in our lives. However after about an hour and a half of this we were ready to get our party on. We started slow and hopped around a few bars, looking for a real party. Around 2am I finally asked a local, our cocktail waitress at the second bar we had found and she told us about a discoteque not far from there. We found it with a little help from two more local kids we found outside of a dive bar on the way and they nicely escorted us to the front of the club. Pete and I then danced until the wee hours of the morning and enjoyed every second of it! We had both been craving a dance party and we got one hell of a dance party.

The next morning surprisingly I was the first one up, ready to go and see the rest of the sights of Genoa. The first thing on the agenda was the aquarium! Nothing gets me more excited than zoos, museums, and aquariums and this was supposed to be the best aquarium in Italy. The line was huge! I guess that going to the aquarium is the Sunday activity for young Genovese families. It was completely worth it though because this was by far the biggest and most impressive ones I have ever been to. They not only had fish, but they had sharks, seals, penguins, dolphins that played basketball (yea I said it!), it was out of control.

After the aquarium we went to explore the giant pirate ship they have parked in the harbor. This thing was right out of Peter Pan and was a dead ringer for the Jolly Roger. Needless to say I was in heaven! Jack Sparrow watch out, I almost hijacked that thing and spun it around the Mediterranean. Once we were finished doing our best pirate impressions it was definitely time for lunch and another fantastic meal. We went to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant and sated our growing cravings for sushi and Asian food. Pete, usually a big eater, did some serious work at this place and I'm surprised they didn't charge him for two people. After such a big meal it was nap time again and we were out like tuckered out toddlers until dinner time. Unfortunately during all this excitement I had come down with a fever and could barely be roused around 7pm when it was time to start getting ready for dinner. However I pushed through and made it out to dinner by 8:30. We walked around for a while, most places from the previous night had closed because it was Sunday however we found a little hole in the wall place right in the main square. I once again started my meal with pesto and was once again impressed, and then Pete and I both ordered zuppa di pesce for our secondo. This thing was rustic, it was massive, and it was tasty! It literally had an entire fish body (head and all) floating in it. The meal was perfect but I was feeling under the weather and we decided to call it an early night after dinner.

The next morning we checked out of our hotel and said good bye to a fantastic city, but not before we hit up that same sushi place again for our last meal. Thank god the weather had turned to cloudy on Monday or we may never have been able to leave.

until next time Genoa...

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