But the flagbearer of Ligurian street food is focaccia. Here this delightful flatbread – and don't call it pizza, for heaven's sake! – is eaten at all hours: with espresso or cappuccino for breakfast, or as an aperitivo snack, along side frosted glasses of Sciacchetrà or Pigato wine. A number of tasty variations on the original focaccia can be found all along the Ligurian eastern and western rivieras: in the province of Imperia there's pissallandrea, made from bread dough and topped with sautéed onions, Taggiasche olives and anchovies; in Sanremo there's sardenaira, made with tomatoes, basil, marjoram and thyme, garlic and onions, and the punchy machetto, a paste made with salted sardines and local olive oil. Another wood-fired speciality typical of Ligurian portable food is fugassa, a soft foccaccia made from wheat flour, left to rise for many hours and then served hot from the oven, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grains of sea salt.
It is the town of Recco however that claims paternal origin of the most decadent, messy and flavorful of Liguria's focaccias: the unique Focaccia al Formaggio.
500 g (2 1/2 cups) all purpose flour
400 g (2 cups) soft cheese, like Crescenza or Stracchino (or any mild and creamy cheese that will melt)
5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven at 200° C (390° F).
Add a pinch of salt to a hollow mound of flour, and slowly add the oil and small amounts of lukewarm water to obtain a firm, satiny dough. Shape it into a small loaf, wrap it in a clean cloth, and let it rest for an hour.
Divide the loaf in 2 equal parts and roll out the dough in 2 flat disks, about 1/8-inch thick.
Grease a cake pan and lay one of the disks. Sprinkle the surface with the cheese, and blanket with the second layer of dough. Jab the entire surface with the tines of a fork, but don’t pierce it through. Baste with a little olive oil and season with (very little) salt.
Bake in the hot oven for 40 minutes and apply to face.