Saturday, July 13, 2019

TurinEpi19 talk-show 3

The third talk-show of the 6th edition of Turin Epicurean Capital had Jan Egan aka The Watchful Cook moderating Ulderica Masoni aka THE Turin fashion guru, Benedetta Oggero aka Miss Bee, Paola Pressi of Il Reale and Monica Buzio who is bringing back to life her great grandfather's liqueur recipes.

* Lucia Hannau presenting the third talk-show

Jan started asking Benedetta about her food epiphany or revelation. She said she grew up eating and drink high quality products. However, she realized what food and wine represented in her life only when she moved to the UK because many ingredients and flavors she had always taken for granted were actually missing there.

Moving over to UldericaJan asked her about her relationship with food and she shared about her eating disorders while growing up. Even though nowadays, she loves sweets and desserts of all kinds just like Camilla, her little chihuahua loves gelato! As a gourmet, she loves researching the best places to eat certain local specialties, especially when she travels; and sharing her culinary experiences with her friends is as important as gourmet food because this combination does maximize every life!

Given her many years spent abroad, following her ex-husband who was a diplomat, Monica was also asked about when she realized how important food was. Like Benedetta and most of the Turin Epicurean Capital guests who are native Italians living (or who lived) abroad, she too used to take for granted what she had an easy access to. As soon as she left Italy, she realized how spoiled Italians are in terms of the bountiful of good food and wine we have on a daily basis.

* Monica and Paola preparing the royal Vermouth tasting

Jan asked Paola to present a bit her royal Vermouth production made following recipe of the Savoy royal house. Paola said the base for the her vermouth is the Nebbiolo wine made by the Carlin De Paolo, a Savoy royal wine-maker. This specific wine spends 2 months in oak barriques, just imagine how intense it can get! Then, at her distillery in Chieri, in the Turin suburb, all the other vermouth production phases take place, like the maceration of up to 30 regional botanicals, the distillation process and finally the bottling and sealing steps before the bottles are shipped.

No doubt this talk-show will be remembered because of Paola's Il Reale vermouth tasting with both her white and red vermouth variants.

Speaking of food memories Monica said she has a very clear memory of her mom's cookies, those she had for breakfast with milk while growing up. Now she loves thinking about the mozzarella di bufala from Gioia del Colle in Apulia, down in the heel of Italy where her ex-husband was from, but she can't stand oysters because of their textures!
Paola comes from a very geographically diverse family in Italy having a nonna from Trentino at the border with Austria and a nonno from Sardia. So she loves gnocco fritto or fried
oesn't like meat much and she would never have horse meat, however one category of food she learned to appreciate is legumes: beans, lentils because in Italy they say they bring good luck!
Bendetta doesn't eat just a couple things, mainly offals, giblets and all the discarded animal parts that aren't cooked in Piedmont. She used not to like mushroom but now, they are part of her diet every week. Her very first food memory is her nonna's apple cake. That specific scent makes her feel at home and that the first thing she bakes and eats whenever she inaugurates a new home.
Ulderica told us about how she doesn't cook, but her nonna did and food has always been the glue of her large family whose roots are in Liguria, where they own a olive grove and make evoo. She got emotional remembering how, in Levanto, her nonno or grandfather was the winner of the forchetta d'oro - golden fork for how much he loved eating!
During the Holidays, her nonna or grandma used to cook the whole big menu: from the many antipasti courses to the panettone genovese - shorter and richer than the regular panettone from Lombardy, we normally have for Christmas. Her nonna would get to make 12 at the time, basically one for each family of her brothers and sisters!! Naturally both the Genoa panettone and the Easter dove cakes were made with local traditional ingredients and paired with Sciacchetrà - the Cinque Terre nectar, a delicious sweet wine from Liguria.
The table decor was especially important and no doubt, Ulderica got her passion for style and life style from her!

* Paola Pressi talking about the two vermouths she brought to taste

As for the foods Ulderica and her three cute Chihuahua girls love there is gelato on top: usually sugar free and made with fruit, like strawberries. They also love ham and chips. As for her, she doesn't like eating her veggies and fruit and this can be a problem in the cold months, but on the other hand she loves meats and desserts!

A very important mission Monica feels is teaching her two sons how to appreciate drinking good quality wine and liqueur. Contrary to what happens in most cultures around the world, drinking in Italy means being with the people you love and care for the most, it is a pleasure not just the pressure of getting drunk quickly.

Paola also added that she had always wanted to produce liqueurs and working with the best ingredients Piedmont produces: wines, herbs in all their combinations. Her mission in life is achieving super high quality drinks that can set a new trend in the beverage world.
You can visit her distillery and chill out at the adjacent vermoutheria with a fresh cocktail in your hands and some excellent munchies designed to be paired right with her drinks!

Finally, what Benedetta wants to convey with the culinary symphonies she organizes for her social events is that all the senses are connected, and, variety in textures, colors, flavors, as well as seasonality, and locally produced foods are the staple of her menus. To her, the feast must be for the palate as well as for the eyes and the brain.

*Jan, Ulderica with little Camilla on her lap smiling and the mint liqueur label of Monica's great grandfather

This talk-show provided indeed a big insight about the Italian food and wine culture and especially about our guests.
Monica closed this last public appointment of 2019 sharing the memories of her great grandfather and describing the pictures projected on the screen. One of the bars he had around 1911 when Turin looked like Paris and Corso Vittorio was almost like the Champs Elysées. A picture of her great grand-father in his early 30s sitting on the banks of the Po River. The collection of bottles of liqueurs he made himself. The very stylish label portraying his silhouette and the list of original ingredients, most of which are currently outlawed by the strict Italian regulation.

Food, memories, all boozy drinks and their production made with love in our locality, our lifestyle: this is Turin, this is Turin Epicurean Capital, amici!

Photos by Alberto Bonis


  1. This was a wonderful, emotional and delicious talk, Lucia! I'm so happy I was there to enjoy it and the Vermouth!!

    1. it's always interesting to see where these chats go, there will be more tastings in the future!!

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