DONT blame yourself if you havent heard of Ligurian food before. In fact,when we first heard of it,we thought it was a recently liberated country on the world map that is keen to assert its presence via food. Well,we were certainly mistaken and as Chef Antonello Cancedda,the Italian expat chef at JW Marriott Chandigarh,demonstrated through a hand-drawn map on the back of the menu,Liguria is a coastal province in north western Italy with Genoa as its capital. Its a popular tourist destination known for its beaches and Mediterranean-influenced cuisine. Its the country of salt,seafood and fresh produce, he said.
Although the chef belongs to Sardinia,he has spent a lot of time in Genoa and was,therefore,keen to introduce new flavours here. While outside of Italy,the likes of spaghetti bolognaise,ricotta,pasta and pizza reign supreme as staple Italian fare,the chef can be credited for introduced diners in the region to authentic Italian meal.
Ligurian food is fresh and rich in flavour,and draws on a heritage steeped in legends of the sea and highland farming, said the chef,as he plated up a starter called Focaccia Formaggio. The baked thin crust foccasia with cheese and a hint of basil was a cracker. We would recommend you start your Ligurian experience with this.
Given the regions proximity to the Mediterranean sea,Ligurian meals are packed with seafood and also cheese. The menu offers,for those adventurous with their palate,Antipasto di mare or,in other words,a seafood salad. With baby octopus,cuttlefish and the likes,its a robust salad and not for the faint-hearted. For us,the Condigion,a simple salad made from bread,tomatoes,onions and black olives,was worth a bite.
Looking to combine the farm and fisherman meals of the region,we liked Canceddas take on the pastas. The spinach and ricotta cheese,ravioli in walnut sauce,is what comfort food is all about. The creamy yet light texture and the spinach delicately wrapped in the ravioli is sumptuous. The menu,thankfully,isnt dismissive of vegetables and one can try the likes of Polpettone di melanzane (eggplant and potato cake) or Gnocchi al pesto (potato dumplings with pesto sauce).
We wound up our meal with a slice of layered sponge cake that had a feel of a cheesecake. The chocolate layer on top was literally the icing on the cake for us.
Meal for two: Rs 2,500 (approx)
Location: Oregano restaurant and bar,JW Marriott,Sector 35,Chandigarh.