Happening upon Camogli's market may have been sheer luck, but we had a very specific target in mind on this visit. We had returned to the town in search of the most amazing focaccia we have ever had. This might sound like an overstatement, but upon looking at these photos again from our trip, I'm convinced that this is, hands down, the best focaccia ever.
Its source is a small focaccieria located at the Eastern end of Via Garibaldi, where the sunlit promenade loses the view of the beach and narrows into a darkened alleyway between two buildings. Blink, and you might even miss the place, but for the aroma of bread baking.
There's focaccia topped with chopped tomato, another with thinly sliced onions, and one with olives. There's pizza too, but the real draw is focaccia col formaggio, a specialty of the region, and in particular the neighboring town of Recco. Loaded with olive oil, the bread contains fresh, soft crescenza cheese stuffed between two extremely thin layers of dough.
I had never tasted anything like it on our first visit, and when a New York City restaurant opened a few years ago promising authentic focaccia col formaggio, I was disappointed to find something closer to a quesadilla instead. I tried to make the focaccia once after my last visit, but it just wasn't the same. After tasting it again this summer, I realized that I had forgotten how incredibly thin the layers were -- paper thin, almost crepe-like. You might need to use a pasta machine to make dough that thin.
I spied a menu posted on the wall of the focacceria detailing the ingredients: "Farina tipo '00,' acqua, olio di olivia e di sansa, cereali maltati, lievito, sale, crescenza."
Unable to translate cereali maltati, I tried to ask some questions about how the focaccia is made, but no one who worked there spoke any English and my phrasebook Italian was not up to the task (if anyone can translate, please comment below). Lievito, which appears to mean yeast, is a surprise ingredient since every recipe I have found for focaccia col formaggio uses an unleavened dough made from just flour and water.
Thoughts about how I might go about reconstructing the focaccia upon our return home quickly turned to eating, as I paid for a focaccia trio -- con pomodoro, con cipolle, and col formaggio.
There's nowhere to sit inside (plus, it's too hot even if there were tables), so you take your focaccia, carefully folded in paper, and quickly find a spot along Via Garibaldi to sit in the sun and unwrap the bready, cheesy goodness. It's gone in seconds, and all that's left is the olive oil covering your fingers.