Join Lenora Boyle in Italy, the land of passion and possibilities.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fred Plotkin Interview Part II

Quote of the week: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Today's photo will take your breath away! (Wait till you're there in person). It's the Aerial view of VERNAZZA in Liguria Italy with the Mediterranean in the background. Vernazza is the second most northern town on the Cinque Terre area on the Italian Riviera. This is one of the towns that we'll visit during our Retreat in Italy.
It always amazes me to think that Italy is a country that measures time in a century. They are willing to wait 45 years to produce balsamic vinegar and 900 days to produce cheese.

This post is Part II of my interview with Fred Plotkin, author of Italy for the Gourmet Traveler and eight other books about Italy. He also encouraged me to quote him from his books.

I asked Fred about the weather and food of Liguria. I, of course, can't cover all of his information, so if you want to learn a whole lot more, I encourage you to check out his books, Recipes From Paradise--Life and Food on the Italian Riviera, and the newest edition of Italy for the Gourmet Traveler. Liguria is said to have more sunshine than any other Italian region. Even though Liguria is a northwest region of Italy, the climate is temperate due to the warming breezes from the Mediterranean which is an inland sea not subject to the turbulence on the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. In September, it is usually around 75 degrees F during the days and 60 degrees F in the evenings with sunset occurring quite early around 6:30pm.
The most famous Ligurian sauce is pesto, made with basil, olive oil salt and cheese. The basil and olives are produced in Liguria and it's recommended to make it by hand with a mortar and pestle. Thus, the name pesto. You can buy mortars and pestles in the local shops. I've made many batches of pesto from basil in my garden, but always in my food processor. According to the Ligurians, it's so much more superior made with the mortar and pestle. Additional ingredients, such as pine nuts, walnuts, and garlic, have appeared through the years. If you store it in jars and top it with a little olive oil, it can last for several montsh. I can't wait until summer when I harvest my basil to try this method. Maybe I can be patient like the Italians who will wait 900 days for the parmesan cheese. I love pesto and I freeze it for use in the winter. I always tell my husband I'd wear it for perfume if I could.

I think I'm going to like Liguria. Want to join me? Have you been there? Any suggestions or comments?


  1. The Cinque Terre will be fabulous, and the subject of the retreat sounds so interesting!

    Suggestions? Eat focaccia and farinata. Drink limoncello, but not too much. :o) Bring your hiking boots. Carry one of those very compact and extremely absorbent towels with you.

  2. Thanks for the tip about he absorbent towels--never thought of that. We plan on eating lots of focaccia but not sure what farinata is. Can't wait to find out! ciao, Lenora