Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Torcetti cookies

Food and wine in Piedmont are a real lifestyle, after all Piedmont is the Italian top wine producer, cheese making region and homeland to Slow Food and all food sustainability philosophies and... it also produces a high variety of cookies!

Let's face it, cookies in their simplicity have the high power to make a bad day into a good one when we dunk them in wine or to start our day in the best way, when we have some for breakfast!

Cookies are easy to make, thus have the big power of making us feel at home away from home. When professionally made they bring us back in time and can also add a touch of royalty to any coffee break.

Biella style torcetto

Today we'll tell you about torcetti or twisted cookies.
There are many variants all over Piedmont, some are darker, some are thicker but they all date back to 1700. The most renown are from Agliè, in the Canavese district famous for Erbaluce di Caluso wine and its many castles. In this area, Ivrea is the main town with its famous Carnival.

In 1854, the royal chef, Giovanni Vialardi listed 3 different recipes for torcetti in his Treaty of Modern Pastry - Trattato di Pasticceria Moderna, in 1854.
Like many Piedmotese recipes, these cookies were also born by the chance in the country public ovens where people used to bake their bread together: most likely, while waiting for the oven to reach the right temperature, some bread dough was hand rolled into grissini breadsticks, sprinkled with sugar or brushed with some honey, twisted and left near the oven to cook.

Speaking of roylty, the Canavese variant of torcetti was a favorite of one of the Savoy pricesses: Isabella Bona of Bavaria Savoy and Genoa who lived in the Agliè castle (from 11th century and still standing!!). In 1938, she appointed Francesco Pana as the royal torcetti maker and allowed him to print the royal crest on his packages.


Today's torcetti are smaller and contain butter to make them tastier. Nobody really knows what the secret of the Agliè recipe is and what variant is older but their recipe is legally regulated and since 2002, they are officially certified as "Piedmontese traditional product"!

This is the recipe for 15-20 torcetti di Agliè:
- 1/2 kg (1lb) 00 flour 
- 280 ml (1 cup) lukewarm water
- 1 cup of sugar to sprinkle the torcetti
- a pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 200 gr (7/8 cup) butter (room temp)
- 25 gr (9 tsp) yeast 

Melt the yeast in 5 tbs of lukewarm water together with the sugar and the salt. 
Sift the flour and pour on the water with the yeast, sugar and salt. Knead till you get a smooth and elastic dough. Let rise covered for about 1h.

Knead in the butter and knead for 10min.  

Let rise for 1h.

Pour the sugar on one side of your working area and cut the dough in small pieces that you will hand pull into sticks about 1 finger thick and 10-12 cm (4-4.7in.) long.
Roll each stick in the sugar and cross the ends giving them a drop shape.
Lay them on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and bake at 220C (428F) for about 15min.



You can serve them with tea, coffee, hot or cold chocolate, gelato AND wine!! The best pairing in this case is Passito di Erbaluce but any raisinated wine will do too ;)
Of course they are a very tasty and unique souvenir for all foodies!







Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pietro Micca:Turin's hero

How Pietro Micca saved Turin from the French in 1706. Drawing by Alberto Bonis








Turin downtown resonates with history and anecdotes; and as Turin is a bit like Manhattan with many things to do even for kids, it is easy to get intrigued by the many fascinating stories and museums.

Pietro Micca is one of our local heroes, one of the central streets in Turin, and of course, a very interesting underground museum too!!


Today, Via Pietro Micca is a diagonal  street full of shops connecting Piazza Castello, the castle square, to Piazza Solferino up to Bar Norman, on the way to the Porta Susa station.    
It owes its name to Pietro Micca the guy who sacrificed his life to save Turin from the French siege in 1706.

Back in 1700, Turin was much smaller compared to today and it fit in a walled area on the model of the medieval fortified towns. The citadel was located in a slightly higher area or it was as series of towers to make sure nobody could enter the town.
The Turin's citadel had the shape of a walled pentagon with cannons placed at the corners to chase any potential intruder.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

TurinEpi 16 thanks


We would like to take a moment to thank all the people that made Turin Epicurean Capital 2016 possible and whose help brought us to the prime time news on the regional branch of the Italian national TV on June 22.

Friday, July 8, 2016

TurinEpi Fri 24 2016

This third edition of Turin Epicurean Capital finished on June 24th: Saint John the Baptist day! 
Being Saint John Turin's patron saint, our guests could take advantage of the 4th-of-July style fireworks and celebrations ;)



Monday, July 4, 2016

spicing up Piedmont cuisine

On June 23 at 3pm the Turin Epicurean Capital cooking class taught by Patrizia Nobile of Tastinglife and Chef Lamberto Guerrer, started at the Associazione Cuochi Torino.
Patrizia and Lamberto decided to put together their know-how and offer a class about the best of the Piedmontese cuisine and a couple of ingredients ordinary in other world's cuisines but yet totally unknown in Italy.

Chef Lamberto Guerrer, ACT presdent and Patrizia Nobile of Tastinglife

Friday, July 1, 2016

TurinEpi Thurs 23 2016

The second day of Turin Epicurean Capital 2016 took started with the morning round table hosted by Sonia Castañeda Piacente, sitting in the far right in the picture below.


From left to right: Marcello Oliviero, Eleanor Fletcher and Sue Hepburn. The interpreters from left to right: Dalila Brancone, Carlotta Rinaudo and Anna Zammarchi.

This round table had guests from four different countries: Italy, Australia, the UK and the USA, with different backgrounds and experiences and yet something in common: two are currently residing in Turin and two are now living and making business in the Langhe wine district, in Piedmont.

Turin author Marcello Oliviero accepted to take part to Turin Epicurean Capital to share his +10 year of vegetarian life style. A serious carnivore he converted to vegetarianism in a moment of poor health, stress and crisis without realizing how such a simple change would upset the eating habits of his whole family who suddenly were forced to modify their menus to accommodate his dietary needs.
Becoming a vegetarian gave Marcello a whole new perspective on life and food, its origin and his making processes. With this new awareness he would never go back to his prior carnivorous status because he is feeling much better and happier. He also underlined how Italians are lucky to have access to fresh seasonal and local food and how easy it is to track back the origin of our food.



Sue Hepburn shared her discovery of seasonal food in Italy. After spending years around the world, Sue and her family moved to a truffle farm in the Langhe hills, in Dogliani  on the Unesco wine hills. Before coming to Italy her food awareness was awaken by the birth of her kids and the need to provide good quality food, however it was only in Piedmont that she re-discovered old flavors and the authenticity of natural foods. Shopping at the local market and following the seasonal cycles has literally started a new life style. Moreover working with the land and homeschooling her life has quite changed at all levels. Surprisingly to many Italians, a food that has grown on her over the years in Italy is pasta. Before her Italian life, she hated pasta the way it was cooked out of Italy. Now she craves it and loves that nice Parmesan cheese sprinkle that adds that extra flavor to the dish!




Like many of us, Eleanor Fletcher never really paid attention to food till she met her wine making husband at the university. Working in the vineyard, in contact with the soil and the vines, he had a deep sense of what nature gives us. She added that living in Australia people are often quite spoiled because they have access to high quality food, fresh produce and great fruit, however, moving to Italy she discovered new varieties of tomatoes and new ways of cooking vegetables, like zucchini that she had never had before. Pasta was a great addition to her diet too, not only because it is rather quick to fix but also for its versatility and naturally, flavor! Her first hand life experience is one of the things that she aims to share with non-Italian customers here in Piedmont.

  


An adopted Turinese from Dallas, TX, Sonia Castañeda Piacente shared her expat and blogger experience. As a Latina growing up in the USA food has also carried a cultural value, the same one she is now transmitting and sharing with her bicultural girls. 
In Italy, her transition from fully processed food to the market bought ingredients resulted in a major weight loss during her first year in Turin: Sonia lost 20lb! Cooking from scratch on a daily basis and having an Italian husband has quickly given her the Italian mentality and the need of seasonality and simple preparations. 
At the beginning, these were the stages she was documenting on her blogs; now, she believes in the educational power of Social Media that not only can be used to create a community, but can also show what ingredients to look for and how to use them.

After the round table, we took advantage of the walking distance between the San Giuseppe theater and one of the royal coffee shops in down town Turin: Caffè Fiorio, in Via Po.



Despite its central location and history, Caffè Fiorio has quite a large and affordable buffet and menu, plus its famous gelato - once the best in town, and still very very delicious!
Yes in Turin 15 Euros go a long way, not only for apericena!



So this is how we spent two hours in the cool shade, under a crystal chandelier, chatting and eating before heading off to the Turin Epicurean Capital cooking class about Piedmont cuisine twisted with the Tastinglife's spices, at the Associazione Cuochi Torino.






Monday, June 27, 2016

TurinEpi Wed 22 2016

The third edition of Turin Epicurean Capital this year took place on the Saint John the Baptist week because it is Turin's patron saint and we have lots of nice celebrations organized so we thought of sharing with all our guests. 

Lucia Hannau introducing the third edition of Turin Epicurean Capital