Pesto Making 101

We had a decent sleep in this morning before getting ready for our big afternoon. We of course had to partake in a local morning treat.

Boarding the train around 10am, we were on route to Manarola, the second of the five towns closest to the south. It’s actually a very short walk to Manarola from Riomaggiore, except for the fact that the trail is temporarily closed. Once we arrived and headed down the path to the marina, we were blown away by the beauty of the water and cliff side villas.

Following a path around the cove, we walked up several stairs which led us to a restaurant called Nessun Dorma. Here we would partake in a pesto making class! The Cinque Terre region is known for several things: seafood, white wine, and pesto!

We checked in with our chef Simone who then led us through our class. We were given two basil plants where we had to hand pick the leaves and place them into a bowl. Ice was then added to the top, to cover the leaves. This allows for a low oxidation for the leaves.

Next, we placed a clove of garlic and a sprinkle of salt in a mortar and smashed it around the sides until it became a liquid.

We then grabbed bundles of the basil leaves, gave them a few shakes and drained the water out of the bowl as a process of cleaning. The leaves were then added into the mortar. A handful of pine nuts were added as well. Now, these pine nuts came from Pisa and sell for a whopping €83/kg!!! Once on top, they were all mashed together.

Our next step included adding the cheese: around 1 cup of 24 month aged parmesan cheese and a small stick of 36 month aged pecorino cheese.

As the pesto became thick, the final step was to add 5 seconds worth of high quality olive oil.

And voila, our pesto was complete!

Chef Simone then gave us the low down on wine in Cinque Terre and what makes it so unique. Due to the vertical landscape of the area, all of the grapes are hand harvesting by a local cooperative, that brings in young adults to help the older wine experts and growers. The wine itself contains three types of grapes: Bosco, Albarola, and Vermintino. They also have three main tasting notes, again due to the region and landscape: minerals, salty, and dry. The wine that we tried during our class was great, and you could clearly taste the notes he explained. Because the vineyard land is limited they’re only able to produce 5000 bottles of wine each year. We definitely cherished it!

After our class was finished, we were then allowed to choose our seat in the restaurant, and were given an amazing spread of food.

The view, atmosphere, and everything surrounding us made our lunch perfect!

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3 thoughts on “Pesto Making 101

  1. I can smell the pesto from here. You’ll have to show us how it’s done when you come back. What an amazing trip so far!

  2. Trattoria, Pizzeria and Gelateria too
    So much to eat and drink – what will we do?
    Pesto pasta, ravioli, cannoloni and more
    Just leave some room for a gelato next door 🍦

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