Saturday, November 10, 2018

risotto 101

Risotto is one of the staple foods here in Piedmont and most def one of our comfort foods 🙆 fairly quick and easy to make, it's always a very versatile dish that you can make all year long and that brings everybody together at the table.


Risotto with Barolo red wine by Chef Marco Giachello for the TurinEpi17 cooking class


Traditionally, in Piedmont we tend to take advantage of the Fall to open our risotto season because we simply like to use all the seasonal vegetables we have access to. Moreover, as November marks the beginning of many festive occasions all around the world, we thought of sharing some of our favorite risotto recipes.

We would like to remind everyone that risotto is a cooking style, not a rice variety.

In Italian we even have a verb: risottare and an adjective: risottato to indicate the risotto cooking style, eg.: pasta risottata is a dish where pasta isn't boiled in water as usual, but cooked like a risotto, by slowly adding a bit of water.

Secondly, risotto can be made with any rice grain.
As the Piedmont extensive rice paddies make us the top European rice producer, traditionally, we cook our own locally grown short grain rice varieties. Carnaroli and Arborio are just two of them but you can actually use any variety you want: brown, wild, black or red rice, even the long grain rice varieties grown around Asia.
As the cooking time changes according to the size and type of rice, you should always taste your rice to make sure it is al dente before serving.

Finally, every risotto is made following the same procedure making it a very creative dish, all you need is 15 minutes plus 5 to let it rest before serving 😛


the Piedmont rice paddies in Treiso in the spring


Every risotto simmers in stock, therefore you will always need some vegetable, fish or meat stock, homemade, ready to use store bought or bouillon cubes.
As a general rule of thumb, you may want to use a fish stock for a risotto with seafood or fish; a vegetable stock for vegetable, milder flavor risottos and your vegan and vegetarian guests; a chicken or mushroom stock for most risotto recipes, even though traditionally, Italians use beef stock.

If Italian expats around the world cure their deep homesickness making risotto with whatever they have at hand, and they can still find a great comfort, anyone can do it too!!

Just remember: risotto is creamy NOT runny like a soup!

A note about the onion... 😅
Most recipe books call for a half finely chopped onion because in the past, Italian rice was stored in sacks and it smelled like pee... so to get rid of that sack flavor, chefs and cooks used to sauté it in butter and very finely chopped onions that would totally overwhelm the dish flavor...
Nowadays, this is step is no longer required as the rice we buy is fresh, clean and without any extra scents.
By all means though, if you want to keep the tradition alive, you can always add this step, otherwise, you can totally skip it like we do!


stout risotto


Besides the stock you will also need wine or some form of aromatic booze. Most commonly white wine is the go-to wine, but red and bubbly wines are good too, as well as beers, stouts, ales, vermouth, gin and whiskeys!

According to what you choose to use, you will determine the character of your risotto since the very beginning of its preparation.
Why?
Because after sautéing the rice in butter, you will cover it in booze and allow it to evaporate. This is a vital step to seal the booze aroma and rice nutrients within the rice grains.
After this step you will add the stock and continue to cook.
This is the base for all risottos.



basic risotto with fresh peas


Experiment with a risotto base to get the hang of it 😇 and you will fall in love!
Here's our risotto base:


  • two handfuls of rice per person + one for your pot
  • chicken or vegetable stock (1/2 liter - 1 pint for two portions)
  • good quality white wine
  • Parmigiano Reggiano to grate on top before serving
  • butter 
  • optional: a dash heavy whipping cream and balsamic vinegar


Prepare the stock; melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the pot and add the rice. Sauté it till the grains are transparent.
Add half a glass of white wine or just enough to cover the rice and let evaporate.
Add two ladles of stock and simmer.
As the stock gets absorbed by the rice, add a ladle of stock. Repeat this step till the stock is absorbed and the rice has cooked for 15 minutes.

Remove from the stove and let rest for 5 minutes.

Stir in a generous amount of Parmesan cheese and add teaspoon of butter every two portions or some heavy whipping cream for extra creaminess and a dash of balsamic vinegar for a tart and out of the ordinary twist.
Stir well before serving and enjoy.


We NEVER have leftovers but... should you have some... save them for your royal brunch 😱

Yes... you can make risotto patties with your risotto leftovers 💁
As the patties warm up in your greased skillet, the Parmasean cheese melts keeping the patties together 😍
Just imagine how flavorful they get if you sauté them in the bacon fat!!



risotto with artichokes and balsamic vinegar


Risotto is a formidable gluten-free option you can easily modify by using a different wine, or by adding seasonal or frozen vegetables, or another cheese.


Explore the risotto kingdom in Turin with us, e-mail: turinepi@gmail.com for an experiential tour and or a cooking class with us!














Tuesday, October 30, 2018

November events in Turin

November is the peak of the Piedmont high tourist season because, even though we are at the very end of the harvest in the wine country districts, in Turin though, there are countless of cool events 🙆

Among our very many exhibits, fests and art appointments, we do really have a very full agenda for many different budgets, tastes and flavors!!
We came up with our top 5 events that have been happening in Turin for so many editions we lost the count. Most are always held in the same part of the month, others unfortunately change every year but they get presented in July so you can sort of plan ahead.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Piedmont fritto misto

In Piedmont, the colder months of the year traditionally translates into a fried feast. From porcini mushrooms to savory and fried meats up to fruit and fried sweets, because virtually anything can make up the fritto misto alla piemontese or mixed fried dish à la Piedmontese 👌


Photo courtesy of Sale e Pepe

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

October in Turin

Fall is high season in Piedmont thanks to the white truffle hunt season and the international truffle fair in Alba. Also the harvest slowly moves from the white to the full-bodied red wines. But what about Turin? What do people do?

Actually, people love to be in Turin in October and November because there are endless things to do and for all kinds of budgets!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Turin in September

September in Italy is when the locals go back to their lives, jobs and school, however, it is also a magic month in Turin and Piedmont. The weather is still pretty much summery, not as sultry as in July or at the beginning of August; foodies and wine lovers can enjoy the new seasonal menus and the harvest in many wineries; art and music lovers will just grab the best opportunities to visit new exhibits and attend concerts and ballets.

In fact, despite its industrial past, Turin enjoys a very vibrant cultural life with many events all year long both in the city's streets and piazzas, and in the many theaters, museums and convention centers.

On top, moving around Turin is very manageable thanks to its one line subway and it is well connected by train to get to other interesting destinations in Piedmont.

Here below there is a list of our top 5 things to do in September here so that you won't have to wonder too much and just hop over 😎


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Stefania Mairano's art

Last summer our eyes caught some bright colors in a shop window. It was an ocean themed display of necklaces, pins, earrings, rings and cufflinks; some were boats, others were fish, but every piece was handmade in ceramics by Stefania Mairano.

courtesy of Stefania Mairano

Monday, September 10, 2018

Thursday, August 30, 2018

August in Turin

Before the 2008 economical crisis Turin, just like any other Italian city looked deserted, especially on August 15 or Ferragosto!

To get a better idea of what this all Italian Mid-August phenomenon is like, and especially if you love the Italian culture and language, we invite you all to watch The Mid-August Lunch:



Thursday, August 9, 2018

Ramassin

Without any doubt one of the Piedmont's culinay joys are our ramassin plums 😋
These super sweet and aromatic tiny plums are native of southwest Piedmont which means you will not be able to enjoy them outside our cool region... 😎


ramassins and Alessi bird set designed in Piedmont courtesy of Valentina from Chivasso

Friday, August 3, 2018

Through Hell to Heaven!

We are happy to share with you all, amici, another guest post by Jim and Julia Dunlop who took part to Turin Epicurean Capital in 2016.
As they are deeply in love with Turin and Piedmont, they never miss any chance to visit.

To read their previous guest post, click on the links: guest post 1 about Lake Orta, guest post 2 about their experience at TurinEpi16, food and wine in Turin!


Friday, July 27, 2018

Turin décor

We often talk about Turin's vidaroyal and always post pictures of our unique architecture but what about our décor?


how would you like your balcony to be held up by some horrific creatures?

Friday, July 13, 2018

St John celebrations

Among the many things Italy is famous in the world fashion, and historical costumes are definitely two.
If you love fashion and its history, if you love Europe because it feels just like a time machine, then Turin is your best destination particularly during the St. John the Baptist Day celebrations.



Wednesday, July 4, 2018

TurinEpi18 talk show 3 and dinner

For the third talk show of the fifth edition of Turin Epicurean Capital, food historian Francine Segan directed Kelly Strobel and Alberto Semenzato of Italian At Heart and Clare Reed of Piemonte Dreams.


Lucia Hannau introducing: Alberto Semenzato, Kelly Strobel, Clare Reed and Francine Segan. Photo by Alberto Bonis

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Yoga at TurinEpi18

For the fifth edition of Turin Epicurean Capital we decided to include a power vinyasa yoga class because our Turin's vidaroyal lifestyle includes both our body and soul.

Lucia Hannau and Francine Segan

Saturday, June 30, 2018

TurinEpi18 day 2

The second day of the fifth edition of Turin Epicurean Capital started with a quick tour of the Roman lanes and a coffee stop at Al Bicerin for the ultimate Turin coffee experience!
Our guests took advantage to visit the Bicerin chocolate shop and the beautifully renovated Consolata Sanctuary right in front of the coffee shop.
Then, we proceeded through the Roman lanes toward the Porta Palazzo market aka the largest outdoor market in Europe!
It was an intense foodie morning, the market was busy and full of colors; our guests could see the different sections of the market: produce with the egg stall where you can buy quail, goose and different varieties of Italian hen eggs; the covered deli section with the butchers and 'gastronomia' counters. We then walked through the farmers' section and stopped at the cheese stall of an artisan cheesemonger who makes his own toma cheeses high up in the mountains. Finally, we walked through the clothes section with African and Chinese vendors into the covered fish section.

Chef Marco Giachello and Jan Egan on the left, Andrew Dunne, Clare Reed and Georgie Knaggs on the right

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

TurinEpi18 cooking class

The cooking class of the fifth edition of Turin Epicurean Capital was held at Associazione Culturale Qubi and led by Margherita Frari.
For this cooking class Margherita designed a program based on chocolate as Turin and Piedmont are the chocolate heart of Europe.

Photo by Alberto Bonis

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

TurinEpi18 talk show 1

The fifth edition of Turin Epicurean Capital started on June 20 2018, once again, in the 1800 fabulous theater of the De La Salle Collegio San Giuseppe.

Lucia Hannau introducing the 5th edition of Turin Epicurean Capital; photo by Alberto Bonis

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Kelly's passion from Turin

Kelly Strobel of Italian At Heart - La Dolce Vita Through Food and Wine From Italy to California is sharing with us how her love for food and wine was born back when she studied abroad here in Turin.
Kelly is one of the TurinEpi18 guests. 
Kelly is a teacher of Italian and English as a Second Language and she blends her love for languages with food and wine. She shares her blog with her partner in crime Alberto Semenzato, also a Turin Epicurean Capital 2018 guest. After all, the best things in life are those you can share 😎

Alberto & Kelly

 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Turin Coffee festival

Coffee lovers of the world, early June, put Turin on your map for the coffee festival
This is a 3  day event full of caffeine where you will get the chance to get to know more about growers, blends, brands, artisans and latte art.

THE first coffee fair involving culture and tastings

Thursday, May 31, 2018

travel money

Gelateria Miretti
Each country has its own system and payment preferences, taxes, commissions and tipping rules, in short "monetary customs".

Certain countries like Italy still love cash a lot, especially when you deal with independent providers. This is because the Italian fiscal system is "totally unsustainable and overwhelming" as the European Union put it years ago...

However, this post won't be about the average Italian financial situation, the 1000E/mo generation or our high VAT (22% included in every price you see) but rather about a few travel tips.




Thursday, May 24, 2018

memory stones

In Turin we like details, not only on our historic palazzos but also on the sidewalks we take on a daily basis. Whenever a friend, a follower, a guest or a visitor comes to town we always show them our "memory stones" or pietre d'inciampo for those of you who love Italian, or stolperstein in German.


Ottolenghi is a common family name here in Piedmont, whenever you think about the chef, think of us here

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Turin's tarots

Magic and Turin go hand in hand because of many reasons, we have already seen how occult symbols are spread all around town in this post by Mari Biella who took part to TurinEpi16.

As a general rule, Italians are very much drawn to magic, according to statistics there is one self-declared and practicing psychic every five Italians. On top of that, if we go into angels and Satanic sects, Turin scores number one in the Italian cities for highest number of people who have seen an angel and number of Satanist groups.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

4 palazzos in Turin

Turin is magic but to the non locals it is always quite hard to understand why...
Most Italians instantly think about our esoteric background, in fact, the city is full of magic symbols  on our palazzos and even underground, Turin never stops to amaze you.

What we really refer to though is our atmosphere, because Turin is just unique thanks to its gorgeous palazzos and many historical architecture styles.
Here are 4 palazzos, you can partially visit for free to get a direct sense of our local magic 😎

Thursday, May 3, 2018

G is for Genepy

Elda's Genepy
Our friend Elda has recently gifted us with a bottle of her own artisan Genepy. As this is a traditional Northwestern Alpine liquor, this is what we are sharing with you today.

Piedmont's very diverse landscape can be  divided in layers: a crown of mountains - the Alps, a ring of hills - where our wines and truffles are from, the plain with the longest Italian river, the Po and the lakes flow. This rich diversity in our landscapes generates an amazing variety of climates and biodiversity,  and consequently, of both natural and artisan products.

Seasonality is another key word whenever we are talking of our local products, because wines, cheeses and local dishes are forced to follow the four distinct season Piedmont enjoys every year.
This is why we love to say that in our region, fashion and food together follow the seasons 😁 

So, it doesn't come as a surprise that the very first Italian National Park - Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso (established back in 1922) is also located here in Piedmont where we have always felt a deep connection to nature and its rhythms. 

Genepy is a traditional product of the Western side of Piedmont and can also be produced in our neighboring Valle D'Aosta region.
It is made only from specific  and locally grown varieties of the Artemisia genus, a medicinal herb  or shrub of the family of mugwort, sagebrush and wormwood. One of these local varieties is called Genepi because it is used to make this liquor.

These are short, hard herbaceous plants that grow up among the rocks near where glaciers start, at 2000/2700 m or 6561/8858 ft. These short shrubs are 5 to 20 cm or 2 to 8 in tall and follow a quick vital cycle, so they must be picked fairly quickly, at the end of the Alpine summer.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

our 5th edition!

The countdown to the fifth edition of Turin Epicurean Capital has started!
On June 20th our guests will be here in Turin and will have the chance to explore our city and get to enjoy our vida royal made up of delicious seasonal foods, glorious wines and endless local activities.



Thursday, April 19, 2018

around Turin

In Turin, locals walk a lot, apparently more than in any other Italian city, and we are often asked why... Well, because we love our city and because walking keeps us fit, and this also answers another common question: do you guys have gelato everyday??

Yes, in Turin some of us have gelato everyday and we aren't scared of putting on weight because we walk it away. Besides, Turin's gelato is healthy and doesn't make you fat 😋

For our friends and followers who haven't been to Turin yet, we are posting today some street things we see when walking downtown.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Turin in April

What does Turin look like in April?

 

 



Follow us around Turin on a whole Madame Bovary-style flânerie: walking on the cobblestone covered lanes of the Quadrilatero, under our gorgeous arcades/porticoes to our wide piazzas.
Temperatures are still swinging between humid cold and sunny almost summery but it is already gelato time. 
Remember that aperitif with delicious nibbles, seasonal foods and outstandingly neat architecture are always part of our local scene. After all, this is what makes our lifestyle truly a vidaroyal 🙆

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Thursday, March 29, 2018

grissini: a royal treat

Most people outside of Italy are familiar with American breadsticks; most tourists in Italy and die hard Italians outside of the boot enjoy their lunch meats rolled up on a grissino or ... Italian breadstick.

bottom left: firt rate, bottom right: Turin style

Thursday, March 15, 2018

5 Turin tips

We are often asked the following questions about how to organize your trip over to Turin so today, we are answering to all of you!


Palazzo Scaglia di Verrua, Renaissance in Turin, see if you can find it!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Sweet life at the Turin's Lab

Let's face it, in the Italian tidy meal schedule, snacking and brunching don't traditionally fit in. Of all the Italian cities, in Turin finding a good tea time place is a task, our favorite is still Clarissa in Piazza Vittorio Veneto 😎

But just a couple blocks away, there is a magic door, you open it and instantly become Alice in Wonderland, celebrating your very merry unbirthday!


Thursday, March 1, 2018

our curry rice

As per our followers' request, we are sharing our 2018 flu go to rice recipe.
As at Turin Epicurean Capital we drink quite a lot of tea it is rather unusual we fall sick or catch the flu, apparently though, this year's strain has been rather virulent and, as we are burning the candle on both sides, we fell sick too.

Fever, cough, mucus, shivers, the ever-ending exhaustion feeling, the list of symptoms is long and we decided to kick it out of our system with some true soul food packed with all powerful ingredients: our curry rice with raisins and chopped hazelnuts just for a Piedmont twist 😜

This recipe is perfect for all the times you have no strength, will or time to cook something highly nutritious.


Friday, February 23, 2018

Mombaruzzo amaretti

Many of you might be familiar with the Amaretto liqueur and the amaretti cookies, but have you ever tried our Piedmont amaretti di Mombaruzzo?

First of all Mombaruzzo is a picturesque hamlet in the Asti area and this automatically makes us think of green hills, vineyards, renaissance castles, narrow and steep lanes, brick towers and a cute little piazza. Most def it is worth a visit, especially if you bake or are a cookie lover 😉

Legend has it that at the end of the 1700, Francesco Moriondo, bursar of the royal park of La Mandria (near the Royal Palace of Venaria) fell in love with one of the royal pastry chefs, a Sicilian lady. Her specialty was a cake made with almonds.
Once they left the court duties they moved back to Mombaruzzo where Francesco was born and opened a small pastry shop where they started selling a new kind of cookie: soft and elegantly bitter thanks to the almonds.

Amaretto in Italian means a bit bitter because this is how the first fans of these cookies defined them: good and a slightly bitter.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

the Romans in Turin

Once visitors make it over, virtually everybody falls in love with Turin, its elegant architecture and rational structure - a legacy of the Roman times. The ancient Roman military camp on whose grid the Turin's downtown developed together with the Palatine Towers are the local Roman souvenirs to remind everyone that Turin has a long history!

the Palatine Towers with the statue of Julius Caesar

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Gianduia = Turin

Gianduia
Everybody knows Gianduia as the Turin's chocolate, but what does this name mean and who is Gianduia?

As we are approaching the Mardi Gras celebrations that closes the Carnival season in Italy, we felt the need to put all the puzzle pieces together: chocolates, Brachetto wine, Mardi Gras and Commedia dell'Arte 😎

Back in the Middle Ages, before actors where professionals, there were groups of people who impersonated characters and stereotypes and acted in the Italian piazzas. As there was no script, they usually improvised and took advantage of the regional dialects to add color to their interpretations.
This is very shortly how each Italian town got to be symbolized by a theatrical character who summed up in him or her the ways of his or her city.

Certainly, back in the 1200 - 1700, politically correctness wasn't an issue and little by little shows were organized where all these 'characters' acted together amplifying their own local stereotypes. Naturally these plays were funny, they were comedies and because they reflected the core of the Italian culture - at a time when Italy was still divided into many tiny kingdoms, republics, states - this is what came to be called Commedia dell'Arte - the true Italian essence of the art of the comedy.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

bear coffee? Orso

Turin is definitely renown for its many royal coffee shops, all more or less centrally located and the total lack of international coffee shop chains. This translates into a city with only indie coffee shops... yet in terms of coffee blends and brewing methods, you will find virtually only Italian style coffees: espresso, cappuccino, latte, marocchino and bicerin, caffé ristretto and corretto or lungo.




Thursday, January 25, 2018

L = Pastiglie Leone

Just imagine if you could get candies instead of medicines, and if gummy candies had medicinal properties.... Well this is how Pastiglie Leone aka THE Turin's candies started and how they are keeping up with their philosophy. Starting by their name because pastiglie means pills 😁

Mark this candy brand down because once again it makes a great souvenir thanks to all the nice tins and colored boxes you can find virtually everywhere, not only here in Turin and in Piedmont, but all over Italy too.

Original 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games tin by Pastiglie Leone

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rosolio or Vermouth's nonno

Ph. by Monica Bessone
It is no secret that the Savoy kings loved Rosolio so much they had made it the official royal liqueur up to 1786 when King Victor Amadeus III loved vermouth better and officially changed the royal production. 
Rosolio in all its variants is one of those products that have always unified Italy even before the unification in 1861. Despite the many versions of this distilled elixir through the boot, only Piedmont Rosolio was recognized by the Italian government as an official traditional local product.

This liqueur was born during the Renaissance and became more common once refined sugar became readily available.  It followed Catherine De' Medici to France while in Italy, it was made mainly in convents where the nuns knew how to extract the herb, flower and fruit essences to make liquors. Later, it was also made in private homes, where rose petals were macerated in a 50% alcohol and 50% sugar solution. Rosolio has always been a good base to make other liquors too.

The first Rosolio di Torino recipe was published in French in 1733. Around 1750s the Cinzano brothers start the first largest production of Rosolio and in the 19th century, Mr Carpano starts labelling his bitter rosolio Vermouth.

Its name seems to derive from the Latin 'ros solis' or sun dew and it literally means 'rose oil'; in fact, Rosolio has an intense yet delicate aroma, yet a stickiness similar to the oil one, making it ideal to close a rich meal such as the traditional Italian ones.

With the passing of the time, Rosolio became THE ladies' liqueur par excellence for its elegance, smoothness and moderate alcohol content (between 25% and 35%) and it was officially offered to all family gatherings up to being considered a good luck harbinger when drunk by newlyweds.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

OUR lentil loaf

Happy 2018 dear all, our first post of the year was requested by our friend Jan Egan aka The Watchful Cook.
On NYE we made a delicious lentil loaf and after researching for the best recipe, we decided to give it a Piedmont twist by including some Jerusalem artichokes.


Regular Italian artichokes have always been an all time favorite of ours but it is only since a few months we started cooking and eating Jerusalem artichokes too.
Usually Jerusalem artichokes are part of bagna caoda THE Piedmont and family/friends dish, however, they can be cooked in virtually any way and can be eaten raw too.

Apparently their English name derives from the anglicized version of the Italian girasole or sunflower because the Italian immigrants in the US found the plant very similar to the sunflower one.
As for the artichoke part, it is due to their similarity with the regular artichokes, but they really have nothing else in common because "J art" are a tuber like potatoes.

In Italian we call them topinanbour and they come in 2 species, regular and white - the better and more delicate quality.
In the winter particularly, they are a super food as they are packed with potassium, iron, fibers and niacin, consequently they help you purifying your system, are  great option to bananas, give you strength and energy. Moreover, they reduce your cholesterol and regulate your blood pressure. 👌


As their flavor is mild and they can be cooked and roasted, slowly but steadily we are including them in many of our cold weather/comfort food dishes paired with rice, legumes and other vegetables to keep them in good company 😉