Food is literally one of the 'main courses' of the city, because it brings back and synthesizes the whole Piemonte's culture: we can't talk about Turin without mentioning the recipes
which built its history and which still today take care of its traditions, therefore, even if you will stay for a short time under the Mole Antonelliana (a major landmark of the city of Turin), Turin's cuisine deserves some hours of your time.
The present gastronomic situation of Turin is essentially divided into three parts: firstly, there are the great city restaurants, which represent the peak of Piemonte's gastronomy; secondly, there are the eating houses, the traditional ones and the more innovative ones, which link passion for ancient recipes to a touch of modernity; finally there are numerous ethnic locals which suggest an interesting alternative to everyone who wants to explore new gastronomic territories.
The great dishes of Turin's cuisine were born from the mix between the local and the court cuisine, philosophy which was born in the period when Turin was the capital of Savoia Kingdom.
Turin is not adversed to changes and innovation, but revises it: it attenuates the excesses and makes them "Nordic". For example, in the past migratory waves from south Italy acquired a taste for fresh sea fish, which today is possible to find also in the restaurants of the most traditional gastronomy.
You will taste them accompanied by Piedmontese specialities, while you will visit cities like Alba (the town of white truffle)
Half or Full Wine Tour day.
Duration: 5 or 9 hours
Price: from 131,25 € (5 hours tour) or from 262,50€ (9 hours tour)
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Also the list of antipasti of Turin's cuisine, and Piemonte's in general, offers a wide range of choice: generally from omelettes to the Albese meat, from salads to veal with tuna fish soup, from tomini with oil to the dressed meats and to the vol au vent.
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Pasta, rigorously fresh and home made, is cooked in several shapes and different combinations: first of all the agnolotti and the tagliatelle; taste them dressed with roast sauce or grating on it truffles or mushrooms. We recommend you also the typical tajarin, pasta made with eggs, the buckwheat pasta soups, or ravioli stuffed with butter and sage, and the risotti with beans and salami.
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Second Dishes and Cheese
Second dishes exalt the rural talent of the area: we find meats braised in wine or boiled, and the typical bagna caoda, ancient rural sauce in which raw and boiled vegetables are dipped.
Also the list of typical cheese is rich and variegated. The most famous Piemonte's dairy product is surely gorgonzola, "invented" in the 13th century; we can quote also the Bra d'alpeggio, the Bruss, the Castelmagno, the sweet Murazzano, the Raschera, the robiola of Roccaverano, the Piemonte's Toma, the Bettelmat, the Cachat, the caprini of Rimella and ossolani, the Montebore etc.
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Cakes and Chocolate
Regarding desserts, we recommend you to taste the bonet with chocolate and amaretti, the small bignole, the huzelnut and the chocolate cakes, the gianduia chocolate, the zabaglione and the nougat (cake with nuts).
More attention is dedicated to the chocolate: we remind you that the famous Gianduiotto is from Turin... and don't forget to end your special dinner with the famous "bicerin" ('shot glass' in Turin dialect).
Spring: typical winter-spring dish is the cabiette, typical of the area of Bardonecchia in Val di Susa (Susa Valley): a rather unusual first dish, made up of raw grated potatos, onions, pumpernickel, nettle, light cheese and eggs.
Also the caponet is a spring dish, really tasty and rather rare: there are two different kinds, the ones from Alba (zucchini flowers stuffed with boiled or roasted meat, cooked salami, parsley, garlic, eggs and Parmesan and later fried in butter) and the ones from Vercelli (wrapped instead into collard greens a bit cooked and containing also boiled rice).
Spring, also known as the season of omelettes, made taking advantage of the beautiful and good herbs which grow in the fields and in the vegetable garden.
Another great dish of spring cuisine is the fritto misto, which represents more than others Piemonte's dishes, a hymn to the cook's skills: if a cook is able to do a good fritto misto, he has a good grasp of the art of cooking, and also a lot of fantasy (many people blame Piemonte's cuisine not to have it).
Concerning the fish, another spring dish is the tinca in carpione; also carps, eels and trouts can be cooked in this way.
Last but not least, the veal with tuna sauce, is one of the classic dishes of Piemonte's antipasto.
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Summer: in summer many kinds of food are eaten in several bagnet, typical of this region:
Piemonte's cooks produce it profusely, giving proof of their fantasy, also for the richness of ingredients.
In summer, many restaurants, start to insert in their menus the chamois: really precious and rare, its meat is at the base of the camoscio stufato, typical Piemonte's and Valle d'Aosta's dish.
The stuffed onions are another summer dish, which, according to the tradition, were born in Settimo Torinese, where it for years represented the typical dish of the last sunday of August.
Moreover, many restaurants suggest a dish of frogs, which, if once were food for poors, catched in the paddy fields, today on the contrary are very expensive.
In summer we also eat rabbit, essential animal in Piemonte's cuisine: you can find it everywhere, and it is cooked and presented in 100 different ways.
As for the desserts, a typical summer one is a wonderful dish of stuffed peaches.
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Autumn: the main course of Turin's autumn is the white truffle, dish to try with a raw meat salad, with the tajarin (several kinds of pasta, agnolotti included), with fonduta (cheese), with fried eggs, with
raw ham with a drop of oil, with delicate cheese of right seasoning, or alone with a drop of oil.
In the past, autumn was the season of the agnolotti, which today you can find and eat all round the year. With the ravioli, the agnolotti are one of the classic first dishes of Piemonte's cuisine.
In autumn you can catch the scent of garlic and anchovies: it's the signal of Bagna Caoda, the typical Turin's dish. As in Turin's tradition in which country cuisine and court cuisine melt together by following the sabauda's culinary philosophy, also here recycle and reuse are mixed (typical of the authentic farmers' tradition) and touches of unusual, inedited and also exotic refinements proper of the court. The Bagna Caoda was born to use vegetables of the end of autumn, cabbages and bitter cardi, and it is prepared with ingredients which come all from abroad, except for the omnipresent garlic.
And the time between autumn and winter is also the age of bollito, a dish which today you can find in every corner of northern Italy and also abroad, but the Piemonte's one is different from others for its richness and composition.
An other autumn dish: the brasato, whose original name is "Bue brasato al Barolo" (braised ox with the wine Barolo); the most precious meat in Piemonte's tradition (the ox) and the best wine of the region (Barolo). Concerning raw meat, numerous versions exist, from albeisa to carpaccio.
After the meal, in autumn, Turin's people drink a good cichet, that is a shot glass of booze (mostly grappa), but also of wine sometimes.
Autumn is also the best season for mushrooms, of which we can find all qualities: the most famous and widespread are the porcini, the ovuli, the pinaioli, the gallinacci, the prataioli, the chiodini, etc. You can eat some of these raw with salad, oil and lemon; most of them you have to eat stew, with garlic and parsley; others are used to prepare sauces; the porcini, finally, are traditionally eaten fried, or grilled.
Autumn is also the great Piemonte's season of cakes and of pastry making, of which the regional cuisine is extraordinarily rich.
Don't forget to eat everything with the precious Piemonte's wines.
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Winter: prodigal and abudant, in Piemonte winter is the season of the dispatch of pig and therefore it's the season of all the products which derive from it:
salami, ham, pork sausages etc.
Among the winter dishes which are born from pig, there are also the tofeja (a kind of beans soup, enriched with herbs, with the pig's ear, foot and hide) and the fresse (minced pork liver with meat and juniper, and fried in butter or in the own pork grease), nowadays almost nowhere to be found.
Another winter dish is the urbelecche, a sort of bollito misto with many varieties of meat and vegetables.
In winter it is served the capon, which infact we typically find in the New Year's Eve dinners, and the goose, with all dishes which derive from it, from salami to ham, from goose with chestnuts or with apples; the tradition of goose was born in the colonies of the Jewish who in the past settled in that area, whose religion prohibited pork and suggested exactly the goose.
The polenta (mush), in all its variations and arrangements, is the queen of winter.
In some areas, the tradition of the polenta a l'Aire `d l'us (the out-of-doors mush) is still alive, which is a pictoresque way to say polenta and nothing else. Other ways to serve polenta are for example the miasse (croutons of polenta), the puccia (a sort of soft polenta with cabbages and pork), or the puut (liquid polenta with water as a base, wheat flour, butter and salt; poor dish of the countryside, today almost nowhere to be found, it was served hot with fresh milk).
Fonduta is also a winter dish, the most classical and notable dish in Piemonte's cuisine.
Among the typical vegetables of the winter season, besides the habitual ones, there are also the tapinambour, which take us to the famous bagna caoda, winter dish par excellence, with its rite to eat together.
Among the cakes, it is possible to find the marrons glaces; it is unusual that restaurants prepare them, pastry chefs who still do it are not many: by the way, in Cuneo, there's a hand-crafts firm (quite big) which supplies most of Piemonte's, Italian and foreign market.
Other traditional year-end cakes are the Monte Bianco, the bonet, the panna cotta, the hazelnut cakes, the apple pies or the pears pies.
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Dishes in detail
Albese Meat (Carne all'albese)
The Albese meat is ground round thinly sliced with an emulsion or olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice (if you like, you can also add a bit of minced garlic and a bit of mustard sauce), parmesan flakes or white truffle.
Veal with tuna sauce (Vitello tonnato)
Veal with tuna sauce is made of a part of meat and a part of sauce.
To preapre the meat, you need ground round veal, an onion, a carrot, a stalk of celery, a clove of garlic, some parsley leafs, bay laurel, rosemary, sage, thyme, two cloves, one or two juniper berries, peppercorn, a litre of white dry wine and an anchovy.
To prepare the sauce, you need instead four boiled eggs, tuna with oil, a half glass of olive's oil, a spoon of capers, anchovy fillets, vinegar, salt and pepper.
You have to start preparing much earlier before the meal: infact, you have to put the meat marinade for 12 hours in wine with all the vegetables and the spices, mixing it twice so that it absorbs the aromas.
At the time of cooking, boil the marinade and pour water (as much as it's enough to cover the meat), put again aromas with an anchovy, without fishbone and cutted up. Then introduce the meat and lead up to cooking, let the liquid soak, with no salt.
In the meantime, sift out the boiled eggs, the anchovies, the capers and the tuna, then emulsify everything with oil and balance the flavour with some drops of vinegar, and if it is necessary, add salt and pepper.
A suggestion: the sauce has to be creamy; in case it is too dense, thin down some bouillon.
At this point the two parts are ready: now you have just to serve the meat in thin slices covered with tuna sauce.
You can get a variation to the sauce preapring a common mayonnaise (eggs, olive's oil, lemon juice,a pinch of salt) and then put aromas with tuna, capers, anchovies, some aromatic vinegar drops or Worcester sauce and mix everything.
The invention of grissini is contended among the cities of Biella, Chivasso, Lanzo and Turin. The version of the region capital (Turin) tells that Carlo Emanuele asked the bakery chef of the court Antonio Brunero a bread well-baked to prevent the spread of pestilences. It was in this way that the ghersino, that is a ghersa, (a type of long and slight bread) became even smaller. From that point it was born the grissino, nowadays present in two different variations: "stirato" and "rubata", that is rolled up by hand.
Tajarin delle Langhe (Tajarin of Langhe)
To prepare this famous first dish, you have to lay up for numerous ingredients: chicken and rabbit liver, chicken entraglie, lard, celery, carrot, onion, mushrooms, red wine, Marsala, sausages, parmesan, garlic, parsley, sage, rosemary, butter, oil and salt.
And now, start cooking a casserole with oil, butter, lard, minced onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, sage and rosemary; once you have withered vegetables, wet them with red wine. Then, brown in your soffritto (mixture) the cutted up livers and the entraglie, including then the minced mushrooms with a bit of crumbled sausage, and pouring in the end some spoons of marsala and tomato sauce. Cook the tagliolini, bolt them down and dress with the sauce, adding butter and cheese.
The agnolotti are a sort of rectangular "tortelli" stuffed usually with meat, vegetables and cheese. In their classic version, they are served with roast sauce or with fonduta. Instead, the more precious variation, is made up of the so-called agnolotti al plin, that is the hand-made ones and shaped as a bag (the "plin" is infact the act in which you close the pasta).
Brasato al Barolo (Pot Roast)
To prepare this second dish you need Barolo wine, veal, minced lard, a clove of garlic, butter, a carrot, a celery, laurel, half onion, cloves, salt, pepper, flour, cinnamon, a glass of rum.
Take the veal and make it brown with a clove of garlic, a carrot, four or five cloves, rosemary, butter, minced lard, a celery, half onion, laurel, salt, pepper and cinnamon; mix all and add Berolo wine many times. Cover the meat with warm water and cook it for an hour and a half with mild fire, boiling down vegetables and sauce. Finally, some minutes before serving it, pour a glass of rum and complete your special dish cutting the meat in slices and covering them with sauce.
This is Piemonte's dish par excellence: a hot sauce with olive oil, garlic and anchovies, in which you dip several vegetables, from cardi gobbi to red pepper (preferred the ones of Carmagnola), from topinambur to the cabbages.
Bollito misto (Mixed Boiled)
The bollito misto is made of several kinds of meat: from the more classic ones to the tongue and brain. Together with them, the sauces are protagonists, also so-called "bagnetti": the classic green bagnetto (garlic, parsley, eggs, anchovies), the red one (with tomato and chilli pepper), the yellow one (with mustard sauce) and the typical cogna, grape juice to which pears, apples, hazelnuts and figs are added.
The finanziera reflects the mentality of "recycle" of the typical Piemonte's cuisine. It was born in Asti, in origin it was just a way to recycle the remnant meat of chicken. Nowadays the recipe schedules that crests, wattles, chicken livers, beef tenderloin, cuts from the leg of veal are cooked with mushrooms with oil and pickles, butter and marsala; it's not a really light dish to eat, but unparalleled.
Only truffle can be the only king of Piemonte's gastronomy. The best is the white one from Alba, but also the ones from oak, poplar, linden tree, or willow are good to put on fried eggs, on tome, on tajarin, on fonduta. The town festivals dedicated to the truffle are numerous: the one of Alba, Asti, Acqui and many others.
The bonet is a typical milk pudding or custard, made with amaretti, cocoa, eggs, cream and caramel; it is served cold and it's the perfect end of a real lunch "alla piemontese".
There are several versions on the name's origins. The Italian/Piemontese dictionaries explain that this cake is called "bonet" because the copper and aluminium mould in which it is baked, reminds of the cap worn by the men in the countryside ("bonet 'd cusin-a").
The most curious hypotesis and the most believed in Langhe (homearea of the cake) lets easily understand that the cake has been called in this way because it was served after the meal, as a cap to everything the people ate before. Infact, before getting out of the house or of an other local, after getting dressed, people wore, as a last garment, the bonet, and therefore, for similarity, the end-lunch-cake took this name.
The so-called bicerin is one of the most ancient and typical Piemonte's drinks: a shot glass of chocolate, coffee and milk. In the middle of the 19th century, in the highest point of his success, it could be tasted in three variations: pur e fior (coffee and milk), pur e barba (coffee and chocolate) and un po'd tut (milk, coffee, chocolate).
Gianduia and Gianduiotti
The gianduia chocolate and its little "sons" gianduiotti were born in 1865, when, for the first time, Michel Prochet and the Turin's pastry chefs mixed the round hazelnuts of Langhe and cocoa, on the occasion of the Carinval; from here comes the name, which reminds Gianduia, a typical Turin mask.
This union between cocoa and toasted hazelnuts revolutionized the tastes, and marked an age for confectionery production, first handicrafts and then industry. From then on, these Piemonte's delicious products went around the world and cornered the international markets, such as in the case of Supercrema, which is nothing else but the original name of Nutella, produced by Ferrero, who's from Alba.
Zabaione is one of the most classic Turin's desserts which nowadays you can find everywhere, also with pastries of meliga.
The recipe is due to the Franciscan Pasquale de Baylon, hosted in 16th century in the church of St. Thomas, who prepared this dessert with an egg's yolk, two spoons of sugar, two eggshells of wine with marsala, and one of water.
The monk became later a saint and the dessert took the name of "St. Baylon", pronounced "sambaiun" and from here "zabaione". From the 18th century St. Pasquale de Baylon has become cooks' protector.
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