Thursday, March 16, 2017

Turin rocks

If you have never heard of Turin or Torino and you have no clue about it, or if you haven't been here yet, after reading this post by our friends the independent people, Xavier and Valeriia, you will simply want to teleport here!

Xavier and Valeriia, a couple of cyclists, dancers and photographers explorers are living the expatriation experience, currently in England. On their mission to discover hidden or little-known spots of Europe and prove that there is no need to go too far for some genuine treasures. You can read them on their blog Independent People and follow their adventures on Twitter and Instagram

Turin Rocks

When talking about Italy, Turin is never mentioned as a must-visit spot. Moreover, Turin looks everything but the way we like to imagine Italian cities. Lazy sunny afternoons, wine and a bowl of pasta in a typical Mediterranean scenery - no, let’s not confuse Turin with Naples. Even despite being one of the biggest city of Italy, Turin is not the first destination for tourists. 
Probably, that was one of the reasons to travel there – to discover an Italian town, which falls out of the standard clichés. Four days in Turin and we didn’t regret anything. Let us browse together 10 reasons why Turin rocks.

Not like the others

Turin stands out in many ways, one of them is a simple “Northern” spirit of the place. Turin’s proximity to the Alps completely removes the Mediterranean touch so beloved by Italy fans. General organization of the city can’t be compared to any other Italian towns either, but nevertheless it’s a truly beautiful city to visit. 


Every detail matters. :) If you are attentive, there is a lot of things to discover.

The Alps

Turin’s skyline has the most beautiful element, that makes it so special – the chain of the Alps. This region is called Piedmont which literally means “at the foot of the mountains” – and indeed, it does not take more than an hour to reach the mountains. This is one of the reasons why in 2006 Turin hosted the Winter Olympic Games.

Say “hello” to Martini, Lavazza, Nutella and Fiat

The names that sound familiar to everybody come from Turin itself! 

Smartly industrial

North of Italy is a rich area in general, but a large part of Italian industry is concentrated in Piedmont. They managed to overcome the European industrial crisis and maintain local factories on a high level. 

Slow Food

Over the past years, the term “Slow Food” has become popular. As a consequence to the widely spread notion of “fast food” came its opposite – slow food. It means focusing on enjoying a delicious meal made from tasty and high quality local products. As you might have guessed, this movement also started in Turin. Various little shops and restaurants (like Eataly) propose local products only which are damn tasty. 

Cuisine of Piedmont

Food, even more food! Apart from high quality local products, there is another thing – authentic cuisine of Piedmont. Delicious chestnut sauces, beef tongue, beef in a tuna sauce and truffles – piedmont specialties are absolutely no worse than in the rest of Italy. By the way, among all wines of Italy, it’s Piedmont whose wines are considered as the best ones, among them the famous Barolo.

Porta Palazzo market, the largest open air market in Europe

Places you didn’t expect to see

Turin possesses a great number of fascinating museums – Egypt museum, Cinema museum that is located inside the iconic building of the city (the Mole), and the Car museum (MAUTO) honoring the world famous automobile industry of Turin. What stroke us the most, however, was a Test Track in the former Lingotto Fiat factory. The production was moved to another factory, further from the center, but this astonishing test track on the roof of the building remained until these days. Definitely worth seeing – it’s absolutely breathe taking, especially at dawn. 

Tramways and city lights

Tramways and bicycles make Turin special, but wait till you see it by night...

To sum it up, 4 days in Turin were everything but a waste of time. Add some amazingly beautiful villages of Piedmont in Turin’s area and be sure – you won’t regret it.

... and if you can speak French... you will easily get by 😉

Xavier and Valeriia

Follow Xavier and Valeriia's adventures on their:

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Amanda's cheese spots

Today we are sharing a new guest post by our friend Amanda, a new resident in the Piedmont wine country!

Amanda Courtney born outside of the Boston area, after high school she went to study metal-smithing and jewelry design at the Maine College of Art in Portland ME. Which then brought her to Los Angeles and from there she was tantalized by the super passionate and exciting food and wine scene that LA had to offer.  It was then that she found her passion and where she got her wine degree at the Wine and Spirit Educational Trust. Working with wine, talking and educating people about the different regions, varieties, and philosophies of the winemakers, she had found her true talent. She now lives and works in one of the most important wine areas in Italy, Piemonte. Having recently started up her own Wine Adventures company she is now able to show people around this area to educate them about the food, wine, and culture of this wonderful place.  

You can find her at

Friday, March 3, 2017

Turin's bicerin coffee

Turin more than any other city in the world is so characterized by its own coffee culture to have its own coffee: bicerin.

The word bicerin comes from the local dialect and it means small glass because back in the 18th century it was served in a small glass and at a small price to allow everyone to enjoy it.
This decadent coffee drink includes chocolate and frothed cream and it's the evolution of "bavareisa", another 18th century popular drink, served in large round glasses and enjoyed mainly by aristocrats and wealthy people.

According to the local custom, the bicerin's identity stays in keeping the three layers of coffee, chocolate and cream unstirred so as to fully taste them separately. After all, this is not a cappuccino, a cafe' moka or any other kind of similar coffee you can enjoy anywhere else.

bicerin and the cookies to dunk: torcetti, baci di dama, canestrelli, krumiri and lady fingers
Most likely it was invented in a tiny coffee shop that today carries its name: Caffe' Al Bicerin, located in Piazza della Consolata, between Via Garibaldi and the Porta Palazzo market. This is the only place in the world where they still serve it following the original and secret recipe

Anywhere else in Turin, you will still be able to order it but... the ingredients, their amounts and preparation will not be exactly like the one enjoyed by the Count of Cavour, the very first Italian Prime Minister and all the other prominent people of the past like Picasso and E. Hemingway who adored it!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Piedmont royal cookies

or savoiardi better known in English as Lady fingers 😋

These are the top royal Piedmontese cookies invented in the 14th century by the chef of Amadeus VI, Count of Savoy when the King of France and his court came over to Turin for an official visit.
They loved them so much that that's how savoiardi became the official royal cookies and were offered to all the royal guests as a symbol of the local cuisine.

The first registered recipe dates back to the 16th century and it precises that these royal cookies made in the Savoy kingdom require little flour, egg whites and sugar.

Even though this is a traditional Piedmontese cookie, it spread out to all the lands governed by the Savoy dynasty and this is why you can find savoiardi in many Italian regions with slightly different recipes and under different names.
Their spongy texture allows them to fit many Italian desserts like tiramisu', trifles, bavarois, charlottes, vanilla and chocolate creams and many more.
They even made it over the borders, to France where they are known as biscuits a' la cuillere or spoon shaped cookies, and Dumas wrote about them in his food dictionary.

Savoiardi are usually soaked into liqueur, coffee and are easily given to infants. They are also rather light and crumbly; like many other traditional cookies, they don't contain any leavening agent, and their sponge texture is given by the egg white meringue. While baking, the air bubbles of the meringue grow and provide their typical spongy texture.

Savoiardi recipe 

makes about 40 cookies

00 flour 80 gr - 2/3 cup (slightly less)
7 eggs
potato starch 80gr
1 vanilla pod
sugar 120 gr - 1/2 cup + barely 2 tablespoons
1/2 lemon zest
a pinch of salt

to sprinkle: as much granulated and powder sugar as you like

oven: 200C - 400F

*This recipe is easier if you have a Kitchen Aid or similar kitchen machine.

  • Carefully separate the egg whites and whisk the egg yolks up with half of the sugar. Then add the vanilla beans and the lemon zest. Whisk the yolks for about 10 minutes till they get fluffy and light in color.
  • Get the 7 egg whites in a bowl with a pinch of salt and beat them up till getting stiff glossy peaks. With a spoon, slowly fold in the other half of the remaining granulated sugar. Be careful to fully incorporate the sugar but not to deflate the meringue.
  • Gently fold in half of the egg yolks batter; then, slowly, add the sifted flour with the potato starch. Then add the other half of the egg yolks, folding them in with a spatula.   
         The firm and fluffy batter you end you with ensures that the lady fingers keep their shape while           baking.

  • Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper, fill a pastry chef bag (sac a' poche) with the batter and cut a 1cm - 1/2inch opening to lay the cookies down. Each cookie should be about 10 cm - 5 inches long; remember to allow some distance because they grow while baking.
  • Generously sprinkle all the cookies with some granulated sugar and then sprinkle the powder sugar too.
         Bake at 200C - 400F for about 10-15minutes

Check they are golden baked before getting them out of the oven.
With a spatula lift them up or let the parchment paper slide on the table where once cooled off, you will easily be able to pick them up without breaking them.

If you aren't eating them all up right away with your tiramisu', trifle, fruit salad or milk, you can keep them in a tin box for up to 2 weeks! Make layers with some parchment paper so they won't stick together.

Wine pairings:

Best wine pairing for savoiardi: Moscato D'Asti DOCG
Best wine pairing for tiramisu': Erbaluce Passito DOCG

Plus of course all the bubbly wines both sweet and dry from Piedmont ;)


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Turin: love at first taste!

Our food and travel blogger friend Patty Boner talks about her love at first taste with Turin! As her guest post is very detailed, you will be traveling with her while enjoying her writing and pictures!
Patty is the author and photographer of delish Foodie Sneak Peeks where you can find all her culinary adventures around the world and at home!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Cintia Soto's Turin

This week we are sharing a guest post by our friend Cintia Soto, an amazing photographer and lover of all things Italian. After years of online friendship, we met her in person last September during the Slow Food convention Terra Madre in Turin and in front of a bicerin coffee, she shared with us her love for Piedmont and the authenticity of Turin.