31 January 2013

AUNTIE PASTA: Dangerous Territory

CHIAVARI, Italy – I don’t know how to tell you this but there is a very dangerous street I have to walk down in order to get to my bank. It’s called Corso Dante. It looks a lot like the other streets here in Chiavari, but don’t be fooled. Oh it starts out innocent enough at the beginning where there is a sweet looking café’ with a big glass door that invites you in,  and then there’s the bakery with its window full of whipped cream cherry topped creations and chocolate cakes that look so delicious they make you want to swoon. But if you close your eyes and walk fast you can make it past them without being too distracted  - that is until you get to Olga’s.

Gastronomia Olga
Olga’s is a hole in the wall shop with an entrance crowded with signs advertising the special of the day. I think that’s called ‘setting the trap’ in advertising parlance. Take last Friday for example.  Last Friday’s special was asado. Asado?  That spicy braised beef dish you find in Mexico, Brazil, the Philippines and China asado? How can that be? There are no Mexicans here and only 44 Chinese and 25 Brazilians in all of Chiavari. And as for the South Americans, I’m not sure the 140 Peruvians even eat asado. So of course that intrigues you enough to want to go in and see what other surprises there are. That’s called ‘the trap is sprung’.

Olga's Den of Deliciousness
Once inside things get complicated. I can tell you from my own experiences that you will want everything they have. You’ll want to sit right down with a fork and a spoon and a great big bowl and start eating everything in the display case from left to right, or right to left, it doesn’t matter. Just bring it on. 

Seafood Salad and Stuffed Mussels
And the problem is everything is as delicious as it looks, from the fennel torte, to the roasted potatoes, stuffed mussels, fried fish (my favorite), paella, roast pork, roast beef, mouthwatering lasagna alla Bolognese or alla Ligure with pesto and pine nuts, and of course all the Ligurian specialties like pesto and farinata too. I tell you it makes you want to drag your bed and books and set up camp right then and there and never leave.

Eloise Hard at Work
The last time I was there Andrea and Eloise were manning the counter. I think they were a little surprised when I told them I wanted to write about the shop on my blog. For them, surrounded by all this deliciousness day in and day out, it must be like people who work in a chocolate factory who have no trouble resisting chocolate. But for me, I know when I’ve found a treasure. 

 Andrea Wrapping My Fish
But don't take my word for it. If you are ever near Chiavari, check it out for yourself.

Gastronomia Olga
Corso Dante, 48
Chiavari (GE)

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