Rosemarie Scavo is originally from Sydney, Australia. She moved to Turin to teach English eight years ago and, for various reasons (amongst others, falling in love with a local and the city!), ended up staying. These days, whenever she has a spare moment from the day job and running after a toddler, Rosemarie blogs about food and cooking at Turin Mamma. Here are her suggestions on what to eat in Turin.
Rosemarie’s favourite local dishes: Piedmont is famous for its variety of antipasti. It is not uncommon for a host to serve five at a meal here! My favourites are vitello tonnato and zucchine in carpione. I am also very fond of Piedmontese desserts, including torta di nocciole piemontese (Piedmont-style hazelnut cake) and pesche ripiene (stuffed peaches).
Vitello tonnato – cooked meat slices served cold with a creamy tuna and anchovy sauce.
Zucchine in carpione – slices of zucchini fried and marinated in vinegar with garlic and onion. Traditionally served as part of a starter dish. You can find a recipe on Rosemarie’s blog here.
Pesche ripiene – baked peaches stuffed with a filling of amaretti biscuits, butter, eggs and chocolate. Served warm or cold. Check out the recipe here.
What is so special about these dishes? Vitello tonnato for its distinct meat-fish combination. Zucchini in carpione for the sweet-sour flavour and the fact it can be served cold (often with a piece of fish or meat in it). Hazelnut cake because I love hazelnuts and Piedmont is home to Italy’s finest ones. Stuffed peaches because of the simplicity of preparing these and the flavours involved.
Where do you go to eat your favourite traditional dishes? I like several restaurants which serve traditional Piedmontese food in Turin but the truth is, these days, I prefer ‘staying in’ and cooking these dishes myself or enjoying them at my friends’ homes. Right now, eating out is not the most relaxing experience with my little daughter Camilla in tow! However, I would recommend L’Acino where they serve good vitello tonnato and an excellent zucchine in carpione, Sotto La Mole, which is pricey but in a strategic location – under the Mole Antonelliana – and a great option for special occasions! Try their excellent tapulone (donkey stew, a specialty of northeastern Piedmontese town of Borgamanero).
What are your favourite places for breakfast: You should order a brioche (the generic term they use for croissants and other pastries here in Turin) with a cappuccino or a latte macchiato and consume them standing up at the bar. At Caffè Corner they make excellent pastries and I often stop by here on my way to work.
What is the quintessential food experience in Turin: gorging on gianduiotti and enjoying grissini.
Gianduiotti are chocolates made with cocoa and hazelnuts are legendary. This chocolate-hazelnut mix distinct to Turin and Piedmont appears to have begun in 1806 due to a naval blockade of the Mediterranean. The cost of importing cocoa into French-occupied Piedmont had become astronomically high. Michele Prochet, a local chocolate maker come up with the idea of extending the small amount of chocolate he had by mixing it with hazelnuts from the Langhe area. It was a mix born out of the economic necessities of the time, but it turned out to be a winning combination. You can buy excellent gianduiotti in these chocolate shops: Giordano and Guido Gobino. If you are in Turin in summer, try a gianduia-flavoured ice cream instead of chocolates. It is made with artisanal chocolate hazelnut spread that inspired Nutella.
Locals will tell you that grissini breadsticks were invented in Turin in the 17th century. The city’s bakeries are home to an incredible variety of breadsticks. If you are travelling with children, it is very likely that the staff in local bakeries will want to give your little ones a complimentary grissino or two! Perino Vesco bakery (Via Camillo Benso di Cavour, 10, 10123 Turin) makes absolutely amazing grissini.
Photos by: Rosemarie Scavo, Sotto La Mole, Guido Gobino Cioccolateria Artigiana/Facebook.