There’s nothing remotely dainty, subtle or elegant about Livornesi food. Take today’s lunch at La Vecchia Ciurma, which describes itself as a Restaurant Wine Bar, quite funky as well as retro, as it turned out.
The photo above is of Baccala Livornese, hunks – and I mean hunks – of salt cod that has been dipped in flour and deep fried and then immersed in a thick sauce of profound tomato-ness. In an age when refinement, delicacy and fancy effects, such a full frontal assault on the tastebuds and tummy is effective and rather welcome. There’s no messing or guessing with this food.
It was preceded by a wooden platter with a curious assortment of titbits put together by the chef – a little fondant mound of octopus and potato spiked with chilli; two fat stuffed mussels in tomato sauce; a sliver of pickled something, mackerel I think it was; another, less gloptious mound of chickpeas with small chunks of fried salt cod and an interesting small bowl of shrimps and bits of zucchini in what the waiter called ‘crema di patate.’ It was a bit glues, but was a surprisingly effective combination thanks to sweet shrimps and fragrant zucchini.
After this lot, there was nothing for itmbut to settle the nerves with Ponce Livornesi, a local classic, an expresso ladled with sugar, stiffened with Ponce Livornesi, a local digestive hooch, and a piece of lemon floating on top. There’s a light touch for you. I slept for two hours afterwards.
La Vecchia Ciurma, Borgo dei Cappucini 26, Livorno. Tel: 00 39 05868