One of those Exceptional Days here in Genova

This morning, in dire need of an espresso after a superb yesterday, I wandered over to Mentelocale Cafe with my laptop hoping to put together a post while drinking that coffee.

I sat down and set myself up at Mentelocale Cafe then realised I stepped into the maelstrom that is the International Music Festival.  The 'background' music playing as I work here is mind-blowingly good.  As in, non-stop concerts at the major courtyard of Palazzo Ducale - from 09.30 until 13.30.

Genova retains its superb reputation with me.  It's a city where I have learned to accept the unexpected will happen.  Later, wandering the ancient city streets, marching bands would appear randomly ... complete with baton-twirling girls, smiles pinned in place, uniforms immaculate.

Let's just say it was surreal but quite 'Genova' for me.

But this post is really about yesterday.Yesterday I passed by a lovely local woman I had photographed and chatted with, by chance, more than two years ago.  She had been leaning on a windowsill and I had asked if I might photograph her.  She agreed then had come down to chat with me.

Fast-forward to May 2014, last time I was here in the city, and I recognised Paola at a table next to me at a cafe here in the city.  I said hi, not sure she would remember me photographing her but she did. 

Then yesterday, on the way back to the apartment, I passed her again.  She lives in a beautiful fishing village not too far from the city and I live in Belgium.  I don't take these random meetings forgranted.

We stopped and chatted for a little  bit, as she was wondering if I was still here from May.  I ended up telling her of the 'New Way of Seeing' project.  I mentioned I was taking my business partner out to the village I had met her in and she invited us to visit her. 

After a coincidence (or two), we ended up spending some enjoyable hours talking with her.  It was so very good to finally sit down and talk.

But honestly, the coincidences that are happening on this visit are remarkable.  We are meeting the people we are meant to meet but that seems to be the way it unfolds here in Genova.  Every time I come here, I find another reason to love the city more ... if that's possible.

Then last night, we had another sublime dinner at Stefano Di Bert's remarkable restaurant, at the invitation of singer and bass guitarist, Donatella and Luciano.  I met these three via Alessandra, a woman I feel so very privileged to know.   I met Alessandra via Barbara, again it feels like a privilege to call her a friend, and I met Barbara via the most adorable Francesca.

It's like that here in the city.

Stefano, once again, presented a huge range of the most divine wines matched to the most exquisite food.  It felt like we were eating and drinking some kind of sublime art collection ... perhaps.  A marriage of beautiful food and really good wine was almost overwhelming at times.

It was another rather relaxed 'after midnight' walk 'home' through this city I love so well. 

Voila .. it has been like that so far.  No camera, no photos.  I'm sorry.  I arrived here so tired that I have been leaving my camera behind.  This situation should change tomorrow ...

Meanwhile, the shot that follows ... I was up on my bed working on my computer, mezzanine floor, old Rolli palace, huge windows open, beautiful view of the street down below and realised I really must share.  I am so loving this place.

Francesca - Le Gramole, Genova

Each product, be it pasta, olive oil, pesto, cheese, sauces or wine, has been tasted by us. This is the only way we be sure of truly advising you. We travel around Italy searching for the local products that bring excellence to your table. This is our passion !!!!

Francesca, writing about the shop, Le Gramole.

I interviewed Francesca and Norma about their shop, located deep in the historical heart of old Genova, back in 2011. 

It's a special shop, in a special area of the city.  As for Francesca and Norma, they're really special too but I imagine you knew that was coming.

They welcome everyone into their shop.  They're happy to take the time to talk, to advise, to suggest.  I have heard them speak Italian, French, and English, and there are always smiles.

I really recommend you take the time to visit them when in Genova.  You won't regret it. 

Francesca was preparing for a one-on-one food tasting while I was there at the weekend ...

A mozzarella snob writes ...

It was bad enough when I became particular about my wine, and realised that I preferred Italian, French and Spanish wines over the wine of any other countries.

I am a woman of limited income ... I can't afford to be particular, not really, however it happens.

Next came the problem of good coffee.  Italian espresso and cappuccino ruined me.  I returned to Belgium and ended up buying a Nespresso machine, for the times between visits to Genova.

This time, I was introduced to mozzarella di bufala campana made by Casa Madaio. 

It is so good! 

Francesca and Norma sell it down in Le Gramole ... if in Genova, I cannot recommend trying it highly enough.

As per the photograph, I put some of the mozzarella on focaccia, with lettuce and tomato.  I took the photograph but really, I was desperate to eat it. 

None of these are paid advertisements ... it's just me writing of the things that I love and find.  And this particular small feast is so easy to create for yourself if passing through Genova.  You don't need a kitchen but the mozzarella ... it's truly delicious.

A Short Walk in Genova ...

Really, it was just meant to be a very short walk through the city, with a stop for coffee at my favourite cafe, Caffè degli specchi - on Salita Pollaivoli 43/R, then back to work on the book ...

That was THE PLAN.

3 hours later, and I returned home, having met the most interesting Genovese along the way.  I'll write more on them in other posts but it was delightful.

I talked with the man who imports beautiful furniture from India, goods that have been made ethically, both in terms of labour and wood, and sells them here at his shop - Safarà.  You can visit his website here.

I chatted with a designer creating the most exquisite clothes.

I bought my pesto and gnocchi from the women who make the best in the world ... or so says I, this ignorant straniero.

Then down to Bio Soziglia, in Macelli di Sozigli,a for a bio lettuce and 2 tomatoes ... I also popped in at Le Gramole Olioteca while I was down there and bought the most exquisite mozzarella.  I asked for instruction on how to look after it, mostly because I felt slightly intimidated by the quality of it ...  Francesca was kind and explained.  And I was right ask, I didn't know that the cheese can taste better if served at room temperature, nor how long I could keep it for after opening it.

And on back up the hill, for my focaccia from the forno on via Ravecca.  The focaccia is good enough to walk a distance for.

A ciao to Lorenzo at cibi e libri and home ... to eat some of the food I had hunted-gathered. 

A good day, and now ... the book.