“When are we organizing our apéritif in the alley?”
This is the question with which I opened the conversation the first night I sat at the table with my family in Cervo.
There are events that arise spontaneously and succeed so well that they deserve to rise to annual recurrence. So it was and will be – in my unquestionable opinion – for our new brand “summer apéritif in the alley” in Cervo.
Everything was born two years ago, the first summer of Covid, when even being in a private garden seemed too risky. Aperitifs in our small garden, open to friends, have always been a home tradition.
We always invited friends we usually meet when we are at the seaside, people we’ve known our whole life. Neighbors, beach chair neighbors, distant relatives, tennis companions, card companions, children’s sons of that dear friend of our great-grandfather. People who have always lived in Cervo, other who live in different cities, or in different countries or even in different continents. We all meet every year in summer for an evening. We exchange the latest news, we gossip, we use different languages.
There are two things that remain fix in this vortex of faces that change, children who are born, people who are no longer here, moves, loves that bloom and end: our house and the full dishes that come out of its kitchen.
So two years ago, for health reasons, from the garden we migrated to the alley in front of our main door. The house is always there, the kitchen as well: the dishes, however, no longer come out the door but directly from the window!
A small, tiny village festival. The start time is when the first things to eat come out. We go on until there is something to eat or drink, whichever ends last. To friendly faces passing by we hand steaming trays, to the curious neighbors looking out the window we yell to come down for a drink.
Pillar dish: focaccia. When my grandmother was still there, there were always two kinds of focaccia: the one with whole olives and the one with sage from the garden (the recipes are in my e-book “ A summer party in Liguria” that you have recently received if you subscribe to my Newsletter – check you inbox!).
Over the years we have also prepared many classic focaccia, focaccia with onions (the classic one but covered with many white onions in thin slices left to drain with some salt on top for an hour), sardenaira, potato focaccia and cheese pie.We usually accompany focaccia with green bean pies, zucchini frittatas or stuffed vegetables. And then we fry. We fry small salty fritters made of leavened dough, in Ligurian called frisceu, plain or with cod inside or even with borages picked in the garden (if there are any).
This year I brought a bit of Genoa street food in my Cervo alley and I fried the so called “panissette”
Panissette are one pillar of Genoese street food. They are fritters made out cutting in slices or sticks Panissa, a thick polenta made with chickpea flour. You can think of them as the fried sisters of the renowned farinata.
They have to be premeditated, like our apéritif in the alley. Panissa, in fact, must be prepared in advance, and requires attendance because you must cook it for about an hour stirring continuously and then shall cool down at least a couple of hours to become firm and cold. Once firm, you cut into sticks (such as French fries) or thin slices (such as corn tortillas) and deep fry them in hot oil.
You can find its super reliable recipe at the bottom of this post! Remember to keep the panissa in the fridge half an hour before frying. It will come out even better.
As to drink? We usually offer a Ligurian wine. Light and chilly. Sometimes vermentino, sometimes pigato. This year we opened some bottles of on a very pleasant local rosé.
And besides wine, ubiquitous for a year now, Aperitivo Fabbrizii made by Nuovo Liquorificio Fabbrizii in Val d’Aveto! By now it has entered our “everyday life”, it has become our way of immediately make a simple domestic apéritif special and sophisticated.
You can taste it alone, with ice. But it is also great as a flavor multiplier, to add to cold wine or prosecco to create cocktails fragrant and not too alcoholic, ideal for doing an encore, or tris!
Orange and spice aromas characterize Aperitivo Fabbrizii. So it matches very well with fried food, in my case panissette, because it cleans and refreshes the palate between one bite and the other. And then the pairing of this summer with a rose wine was really amazing!
You just have to try it!