Right after breakfast we took off to Tellaro. We walked through the peaceful little town and enjoyed the views:
We couldn’t decide what to do for the rest of the day but Megan had mentioned something that intrigued me–Panigacci. So off we went to drive in search of this pasta/bread/pancake that is unique to a small area called Podenza in the Lunigiana in Tuscany. From Lerici we drove in the direction of Parma for about 30 minutes before we got off the autostrada at Aulla and began winding up into the small mountains. Sometimes the drive reminded us of Northern California with the lush green canopied roads. Finally we stopped at this place–Da Gambin
The restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside but it is huge inside with more than 100 tables. There were no menus; the waitress just came to the table and asked if we wanted to eat panigacci. She offered pesto, oil and cheese, or mushroom sauce. We got pesto and mushroom and switched off. This first plate had the discs of pasta (about 4 inches in diameter) which had been prepared then boiled for 2 minutes. They were flat on the plate covered with the sauce, both of which were terrific. Then she brought us a platter of proscuitto and a plate of stecchino (?) cheese and a basket of the hot panigacci right from the fire. This was an amazing combination of flavors. The cheese is almost like cream cheese, spread on the hot bread with a little char on it–with the silky, salty ham. I was ooohing and aaahing.
I asked her how they were made and she mentioned fuoco en camino–fire in what??
She could tell I couldn’t get if so she invited us down some steep stairs in the kitchen to see where the panigacci are made. The camino is like a big wheel in the wood fireplace that is partly outside and partly inside the building. The cook puts the testi (terracotta discs) on the fire until they are red hot. The he takes one off and pours on a ladle full of batter (just water, flour and salt), tops it with the next hot disc and repeats this until there are about 5 in a stack. It takes about 2 minutes and the panigacci are cooked.
There are 5 restaurants which have formed the Association of Panigaccio–www.arpp.com.
Here’s the shed right across the street from the restaurant
Full of great food we returned to Lerici for a nice nap…


A Culinary Adventure — 2 Comments

  1. Wow — these panigacci sound fantastic. I hadn’t heard of them before and now I’d love to try some. They must have a wonderful wood-fired flavour, like a pizza baked in a wood-burning oven.

  2. Jan, I’m here following your every account…wonderful posts and photos and I love the details about the food. Everything about your trips sounds great.