Eating Through Europe On A Student’s Budget: Cinque TerrePosted: August 11, 2012
I considered not writing this post. I wanted to keep Cinque Terre all to myself so that I could return to my quiet haven. But then I realized that, because I stopped writing throughout my trip, Fooducated’s readership has plummeted and, thus, chances are this post won’t flood the area with Fooducated reading Americans wearing huge sneakers and fanny packs.
So here it goes. Cinque Terre is the place to go for students on the cheap. We stayed in a private room with a private bathroom and a balcony that looked out over the entire town and part of the sea for 60 euros a night (more on lodging at the end). Lying on the beach all day is free (in most places) and hiking along the coast is 5 euros. For 4 euros, we could buy enough bread for both of us for breakfast and lunch. And for 14 euros we ate the most delicious pasta ever. Here it is:
Oh man. I wish. I wish. I wish I could finish sentences but I’m still trying to recover mentally from the deliciousness of that plate of black squid ink pasta. It was incredible. We ate in complete silence and not licking the plate required every last ounce of my self-control.
The mini-lobsteresque sea creature on the pasta is apparently a langoustine. Langoustine is lobster’s superstar cousin. When I still thought it was a mini-lobster I called my mom and raved about Italian lobsters that are so flavorful that they require no dipping butter.
Unfortunately, langoustines only live on the European side of the Atlantic Ocean and are, thus, not served often in American restaurants. So you’ll have to go to Il Baretto in Vernazza (one of Cinque Terre’s towns) and order the above pasta to eat a langoustine that they probably caught only about a mile or two away from the restaurant. And plan on going back again the very next day, like we did, because you will dream about it that night. Here’s a picture of my second order of the pasta:
But that pasta wasn’t the only food fresher than Will Smith himself. The smell of Panifico Focacceria’s baking bread constantly wafted out through its giant double doors and onto the street of Vernazza. It’s the town’s only bakery and the foccacia is so well made that it requires absolutely nothing. No condiments, no tomatoes, no cheese, no ham… you just want the plain foccacia. And a large, lunch-worthy piece costs no more than a euro.
I can keep going. Here’s a picture of calm linguine from Ristourante Cece in Corniglia that was incredible.
The delicate butter sauce, sweet tomatoes, and the calmtastic clams inspired multiple happy dances.
And then there was this bruschetta plate in Corniglia.
Each piece of toast was spread with ingredients that were grown on the mountain we were sitting on or caught in the sea we were looking at. That included bell peppers, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, basil pesto, and anchovies.
And look at this cone of fried clamari in Vernazza.
Go! Book a flight right now! You know you want to.
On lodging: the above pictured town is Corniglia. It’s the only town without a beach (though you can walk down stairs to a beautiful rocky area where there is a dock to jump off of) and it was the least touristy town of the three we visited. We stayed in Ostello Corniglia, a hostel that cost 18 euros each per night. It was very clean and the staff was nice but the rooms sleep eight people and Corniglia is beautiful but small and very, very quiet. When we walked into the town of Vernazza, we saw a bunch of signs for rooms for rent with a sea view and called one of the numbers. That’s how we ended up paying 30 euros each per night for our own bedroom, bathroom, and beautiful balcony. Vernazza is also quiet but not as still as Corniglia because it does have a small beach. Below is a picture of Vernazza.
Above is the map of the route Zach – one of my best friends – and I took through Europe. We ate three usually delicious meals a day on a budget of 40 euros a day. If you’d like to see more pictures of our Fooducated Euro Trip, check out the Fooducated Faebook page. I’ll be writing about the rest of the cities in the coming days. Also, keep posted for recipes inspired by the dishes we ate.