So how would you end an extended 6th edition of Turin Epicurean Capital, after some of the guests had the unique chance of getting up close and personal with the top wines and foods of the Langhe district for 2.5 days; after 3 days in Turin of talk-shows (1, 2, 3), cooking class, a natural 'hot' yoga class, a super cheese-tasting and lots of amazing delicious food and laughters?
|Suspiciously smelling 'acqua e menta'- Americans think it tastes like Listerine but boy, the locals love it!|
Photo by Alberto Bonis
We decided to spend a happy afternoon and evening in the Quadrilatero area. As many guests had already gone back to their professional commitments, we decided to spend a real Turinese afternoon with Reine and her son Jake, who had already been to Turin and fell for us!
We first stopped at Al Bicerin where besides ordering the original bicerin coffee, Jake had the chance to go on a culinary adventure trying a local's favorite drink: water and mint syrup. Yes, very similar to what you would have in France, but also a true Turinese tradition in the summer.
Then, because at Al Bicerin you can also buy lots of local candies... Jake got to try a sucai or an artisan licorice tiny brick, coated with sugar whose flavor changes as you suck it in your mouth, just like its name tells you to do. 😋
|Basilica della Consolata|
Then we got inside the Basilica della Consolata: the totally 'unassuming church' in front of Al Bicerin. This is a must-stop for different reasons: first of all, after its renovation it is now fully gilded, and secondly, after admiring all the shades of marble, you must see the section about the miracles of Our Consolata Lady as they are portrayed in the gallery near the ex-voto collection 👌
Some cool shopping in Via Garibaldi followed, as well as some gelato, another gorgeous church, and some window shopping in Via San Tommaso.
Jake and Reine were interested in some original prints and art pieces to bring back home so we showed them inside Libreria Antiquaria Dentis, a vintage gallery that sells antique books, lots of unique paintings, old Turin maps and a collection exotic objects among with different two-headed animals and an African caiman wearing a crocheted white bonnet.
After this fun shopping spree we headed to Antico Balon in Piazza Emanuele Filiberto, near the Porta Palazzo market - the largest outdoor market in Europe.
This unordinary ristorante-pizzeria is definitely a must-try when in Turin: first of all the menu is an extension of what you can buy at the market where the chef goes groceries on a daily basis.
Their menu is strictly local, seasonal and open to any substitution and dietary restrictions: a vegan pizza reins among all the options.
There is also a pizza doughs menu so you can choose among different grains, but all doughs are made with mother yeast 😎AND 👏 the kitchen is at sight - translation for non-locals: top sign of hygiene, properly preserved and worked ingredients, freshly made dishes for everyone to see and check out on.
|Left to right: Reine Bouton and her son Jake, Jan Egan, Benedetta Oggero, Alberto Bonis|
As you can see, every detail at Antico Balon is studied to give you the feeling of eating at your old zia or nonna: the walls are painted to fake dust - don't be fooled though*, it's just a decor effect!
As behind the Porta Palazzo market there is Balon or THE antique market of Turin, all the tables and table-ware and the wall objects were all bought there and matched at the restaurant. So you eat on old Singer sewing machine tables, and each table is set with unmatched antique sets of dishes, glasses, silverware on lace-like place mats.
Old mirrors, lamps and Italian soccer items, pennants, banners, soccer memorabilia as well as some country tools surround you, just like as if you were at an old relative's!
|Piedmontese tomini elettrici and with bagnet verd or green sauce served in a burnia or mason jar|
|tagliolini with mushroom served in an old-style alluminum pot|
No wonder you have to reserve with days in advance, eating out at Antico Balon is real treat and its desserts are even better 😜
If you are a fan of Italian soccer from the 1980s then you'll shed a couple tears too as each dessert is named after a soccer player, coach or some cool reference to our beloved Italo disco.
|pizza with burrata mozzarella and Bra beef sausage|
|The quintessential Turin dessert: bunet with the amaretto cookie|
A note needs to be written about the restroom: a living tribute to the Italian cinema spanning from the 1950s to the early 1970s with realia and posters.
Everyone at Antico Balon is genuinely super nice, def not for tips as everyone is regularly hired with a living wage contract. And if you are lucky enough when you go, you will also meet a very polite puppy at the cashier.
|luscious Piedmont hazelnut chocolate cake with raspberry coulis|
Eating, laughing, drinking, Reine and Jake left to see the USWNT winning the game; Miss Bee and Jan Egan stayed for some more laughters and Italian slang classes before calling the night off.
|who on earth has ever said no to panna cotta? Pure happiness with red fruit coulis|
Thank you so much everyone, we had an amazing afternoon and evening, awesome food and will definitely include a real local shopping afternoon next year to show you what Turin has in store!
*The Italian regulations are so strict that on a regular basis all public restaurants and coffee shops are inspected by the hygiene division of the Italian police called carabinieri NAS. If even a tiny detail isn't in order, like let's say... nobody dusts on a daily basis, well, that business will close down immediately!