The Italian and I recently spent a great weekend in his hometown of Turin, an old, aristocratic city with grand boulevards and palaces in the center of the city. The host to Ferrero, the company that gave the world Nutella and Ferrero Rocher, Turin is known for its sweets and offers a plethora of gelato and chocolate, with Gianduja, a chocolate made with hazelnut paste, being a favorite local flavor.
Piazza in Turin
On our trip we did a fair amount of window shopping in the boulevards, myself eyeing some gorgeous Italian leather shoes, as well as went to a football (soccer) match between Turin’s two home teams (a particular highlight for the Italian).
Soccer derby – Toro vs. Juventus – the fans set off smoke flares in the color of their team
It goes without saying that we also ate a lot of great food. One restaurant we went to was so amazing it inspired me to open up this blog to tales of fantastic meals cooked by others in addition to those cooked by the Italian and me. The restaurant, called Trattoria Piani and located in the small countryside town of Prarostino in Piedmonte, about a 45 minute from Turin, was a casual trattoria that served, in my opinion, five-star food. In Italy, a trattoria is a level below a ristorante but a step above an osteria. They typically have no printed menu and serve rustic, home-cooked food in a family setting without the formalities of a head chef. Food is plentiful, and the place we went to was no exception. In total, we had more than ten courses with a carafe of the house red wine, including multiple antipasti (starters), two pasta dishes, two meat dishes and of course a dessert. We skipped the coffee after the meal as I don’t think I could have fit even the slightest of anything into my stomach by the end!
Below I’ve documented some of my favorite courses, although quite a few are sadly missing!
Bread basket with homemade grissini (breadsticks)
The first of the antipasti, and my favorite: cured meats (prosciutto, speck, salami, lardo, coppa)
Beef carpaccio with oil and parmesan
Ravioli with spinach and walnut sauce
Tagliolini al Ragu
Grilled beef, served with carrots
Bonet – a traditional pudding dessert found in the Langhe area of Piedmont.
A note on the Bonet: Dating back to the noble banquets of the 13th century, the dessert is made with chocolate and amaretti (almond flavored macaroons). Piedmont, like all regions of Italy, has its own dialect, and in Piemontese “bonet” means “hat”. One of several theories on this name suggests it comes from the custom of eating the dish at the end of the meal, in the same way that one puts a hat back on after eating, just before leaving the home or restaurant.
Here is the Italian after the meal, we pretty much had to roll ourselves out of the place!
Some of the courses that are missing include a Russian salad, Veal with Tuna sauce (Vitello tonnato), pastries with cheeses and creamed mushroom, and another veal dish.
I may have to try my hand at a few of these recipes, the bonet being particularly tempting!