Chocolate crawls, EATaly, and the end of Fashion Week

March 4, 2010 · Posted in Travel · 1 Comment 

On February 26th, it was the end of Fashion Week, I had been out almost every night until 4:00 a.m., and this was to be no exception.  My friend Andrea Pattarini was in town (you’ve met him before…) and so of course we had to hang out.  And that’s how you find yourself dancing at 3:30 a.m. with people you’ve just met, ruing the fact that you have to wake up at 8:00 to make a bus to Turin.

But, wake up four hours later I did.  Three quick shots of espresso and one brioche later, eyes burning from a week’s worth of a lack of sleep, I was ready to eat some Italian chocolate.

Except, in typical Italian fashion, they canceled an international chocolate festival the WEEK BEFORE for some weird combination of stupid reasons.  It may or may not be rescheduled depending on….well depending on whether or not they feel like it essentially.  Nevermind all the lost revenue and pissed off people who’ve booked hotels, flights, etc.

Our first stop in Turin (Torino in English, home of Fiat, 2006 Winter Olympics) was EATaly, a concept developed somewhat in conjunction with SlowFood.  It’s essentially a giant supermarket specializing in small-batch producers and super premium foods at affordable prices.  I will save the rant on how organics don’t actually cost more over time and how we mis-price all sorts of things when making food decisions until I return to Chicago…for now let’s just talk about how this is one of a select few Utopian food stores I’ve visited in my life.  When you walk in, there’s a giant diagram of what food is in season during what months.  You know, so you don’t eat asparagus in the dead of winter.  Because IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO GROW THEN!  Sorry…I digress.

A section of the wine cellar – you could bring your own bottles and fill up right from the cask!

Fresh bread…

Stuffed pasta waiting to happen…just add ricotta, spinach, some herbs, bottle of red…

Eat your heart out, Dr. Atkins, you quack.  I could kill you with a thought!  Or a tray…  A hamburger wrapped in bacon isn’t a meal.  A hamburger wrapped in bacon served over a bed of pasta is.  Or something like that…

Here’s a little sample of my meal that day – braised veal served alongside buttery mashed potatoes.

They also had a great kitchen gadget section where I found this amazing contraption:

Basically it’s a grill with four hot zones, and each one of those football shaped grills rotates away from the heat for more precise cooking.  They also raise up and down to control heat exposure.  Perfect for cooking competitions.  Bring it on, Kyle and Alex….

After EATaly we toured Turin – looking for a selection of chocolate shops and antique cafes.  This was more of the “cultural” aspect of study abroad as we’re doing it over here.  Following a couple of Italians around, eating chocolate, drinking cafe, and finally drinking a half coffee half chocolate creation called a Bicerin, created in Torino.  If Starbucks made good coffee drinks, this is what they would make.

And of course, in true Italian fashion, our group split up, was late for the bus, made the bus move to come pick us up (we were over an hour away from the pickup point at pickup time) and we finished with a mad dash through the outdoor farmer’s market before boarding the bus and sitting in traffic for a couple of hours.

Oh and because it was Saturday…I ended up going out again until about 2:00 (an early night) and then sleeping through almost the entire day on Sunday.  Made myself an American breakfast and showered about 4:00 in the afternoon.  Proper.