How to eat well in Genoa [Genova]

George Mason economist Tyler Cowen, author of An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies, just posted a note on some of his delectable discoveries in Genoa.

BTW, if you haven’t yet read An Economist Gets Lunch, I can almost guarantee you will find Tyler’s book as engaging as we did. The book has nearly zero intersection with all the other foodie books on the shelf. You will enjoy the reading immensely, and enjoy the eating for the rest of your life. 

Genoa is one of the best food venues in Italy, as is Liguria more generally.  It is also one of the best places in Europe for vegetarian dining.  Maximize the number of tarts and vegetable tarts you eat, skip hotel breakfast and look for small places with morning snacks, preferably baked goods, and treat them as the equal of cooked dishes.  Forget about meat altogether.

1. Antica Sciamadda, 14-16 Via San Giorgio, arrive at the 11:30 opening and keep on buying the tarts and farinata as they are freshly baked and put out on the counter.  There is a vaguely Arabic feel to the dishes, and there is an excellent video of the place here.  There are many excellent ‘sciamadda’ in Genoa and they lie somewhere between a food stall and a very small restaurant, so do not count on them being open for dinner.

2. Trattoria alle Due Torri, Salita del Prione 53, near the Columbus house.  Order pasta and focaccia, this is some of the best spaghetti I’ve had, and the pansotti (ravioli in walnut sauce) is notable.

3. La Rina, superb seafood restaurant, don’t focus on the main courses.

There are relatively few tourists in town, although the most common group — by far — is Russians.  From Bologna, here is a post about flunking out of Gelato University.

(Via Marginal Revolution.)

The Allure of the Underground Supper Club

If you a foodie, then this New Yorker piece on underground chef Craig Thorton’s Wolvesmouth is for you. Thanks to Tyler Cowen for the link.

 (…) 

For a confluence of reasons—global recession, social media, foodie-ism—restaurants have been dislodged from their traditional fixed spots and are loose on the land. Established chefs, between gigs, squat in vacant commercial kitchens: pop-ups. Young, undercapitalized cooks with catchy ideas go in search of drunken undergraduates: gourmet food trucks. Around the world, cooks, both trained and not, are hosting sporadic, legally questionable supper clubs and dinner parties in unofficial spaces. There are enough of them—five hundred or so—that two former Air B-n-B employees founded a site, Gusta.com, to help chefs manage their secret events. The movement is marked by ambition, some of it out of proportion to talent. “You’ve got a lot of people trying to be Thomas Keller in their shitty walkup,” one veteran of the scene told me. If you’re serving the food next to the litter box, how else are you going to get people to pay up?

At Wolvesmouth, Thornton has accomplished something rare: above-ground legitimacy, with underground preëminence. In February, Zagat put Thornton on its first “30 Under 30” list for Los Angeles. “Top Chef” has repeatedly tried to get him on the show, and investors have approached him with plans for making Wolvesmouth into a household name. But he has been reluctant to leave the safety of the den, where he exerts complete control. “I don’t want a business partner who’s like, ‘You know, my mom used to make a great meat loaf—I think we should do something with that,’ ” he told me. “I don’t necessarily need seventeen restaurants serving the kind of food I do. When someone gets a seat at Wolvesmouth, they know I’m going to be behind the stove cooking.” His stubbornness is attractive, particularly to an audience defined by its pursuit of singular food experiences. “He is obsessed with obscurity, which is why I love him,” James Skotchdopole, one of Quentin Tarantino’s producers and a frequent guest, says. Still, there is the problem of the neighbors, who let Thornton hold Wolvesmouth dinners only on weekends, when they are out of town. (He hosts smaller, private events, which pay the rent, throughout the week.) And there are the authorities, who have occasionally shut such operations down.