Saturday, October 18, 2014

Trip to Italy (October 2014)...Dinner at Ristorante il Circolo dei Lettori in Torino

Local-style fungi pasta at il Circolo dei Lettori

Tonight, I met with a friend, who also arrived earlier than the rest of the wine group from Tokyo, for dinner.

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We had a reservation at a popular local restaurant called, il Circolo die Lettori. The restaurant is located within a historic architectural site, Palazzo Graneri della Roccia. You enter the gate, then see a beautiful courtyard surrounded by a building.

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The restaurant is almost hidden in the basement floor. The inside is so beautiful with classic look and historic paintings. Our reservation was early so we were the first customers to arrive, but soon after the restaurant was completely full.

We enjoyed the amazing Piemontese dishes and pairing wines.

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We started with Salsiccia di Bra. It was a tartare of pork and beef from Bra, served on top of turnip. Yes, raw pork! It was my first time to try pork tartare, and it was really tasty. All the bread and grissini are also handmade at the restaurant. I loved the bread with lardo (pork fat) inside.

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Because I knew we will be eating a lot of meat in the next week, I chose seafood dishes. Started with trio of seafood tartare (bacalao - salt-cured cod, tuna, and sea bass). Then, I also had squid ink risotto. Really nice.

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We also had porcini fritto. It's a very popular dish at this restaurant during the season. Really delicious!

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Wiens were great, too. I had a great time!

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After dinner, my friend took me to one of the historic cafes in Torino. It's called, Fiorio. The hot chocolate was the richest kind I had! It was almost like a sesame paste texture. Wow. I also enjoyed gelato of pistachio and cream.

Trip to Italy (October 2014)...Exploring Torino

Prosciutto Cotto e Crudo pizza at Eataly

Today, I explored central Torino during the day. I just walked and walked for hours and had a great time.

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In the morning, I checked out a famous farmers market at Porta Palazzo. The market was HUGE! And the entire area was so jammed and lively with shoppers.

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There were rows and rows of vendors selling all different kinds of produce, salted cod, cheese, meat, marinated olive, etc. etc. 

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In addition to the outdoor market, there are also a few different indoor markets. One of them was almost entirely meat. I believe there are about a couple of dozen meat vendors in one floor. Amazing.

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Then, as I walked out of the farmers market, I also checked out a flea market along Via Borgo Dora and its vicinity. All the streets of the district were completely filled with vendors of some good antiques and a lot and lot of, old remote controls for TV and stuff.

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In the afternoon, I took a subway to get to Ligotto district, to visit Eataly's original location. I made it there finally!

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Compared to US outposts of Eataly (in NYC and Chicago), I found the original Torino location is much more modest looking and even somewhat industrial, while the market space is probably even bigger here. Yes, it's huge. And, I like that the atmosphere in this original location, as it seemed like a real market for locals. Oh, and their wine shop in the basement was huge. They also have a huge Italian craft beer selections.

All the restaurants inside looked so appetizing, but I already decided what to eat.

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Yes, pizza! I really wanted to eat their pizza here...and I did it! I ordered Pizza di Prosciutto Cotto e Crudo. There are two kinds of prosciutto (cooked and 20-month cured kind) were piled over pizza margherita. It was so dynamic!! So I just sliced and started, unbelievably delicious with such generous amount of prosciutto. The dough was perfectly crusty outside and chewy inside. I almost finished the whole thing myself. To enjoy with the pizza, since I learned the beautiful paring of prosciutto and Friulano white wines when I visited Friuli two years ago, I ordered 2013 Le Vigne di Zamo, Sauvignon. It was so lovely.

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After the pizza, of course, I wanted to eat gelato! The gelateria at this Eataly is by San Pe, which is another artisan producer who make gelato from premium quality milk from their own farm. So, they call themselves "agrigelateria". I had Gianduia (chocolate + hazelnut) gelato and Marvasia e Fragola (Marvasia grape and strawberry). I was so pleased that they make gelato from Marvasia, which is a wine grape! San Pe's gelato was really tasty, just like yesterday's at Piu di un Gelato.

After the big lunch, I walked more.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Trip to Italy (October 2014)...Walking in Sunny Torino

Apericena at Cafe Roberto

No donabe cooking for the next 9 days or so, as I just arrived in Torino (Turin) in Piemonte, Italy this afternoon! I am getting together with my wine group friends from Tokyo again for a week-long wine trip. They are arriving tomorrow night. We had a great time in Sicily last year, and Friuli & Slovenia a year before that. This year, we will travel Piemonte and Valle d'Aosta regions. It's my third time to travel Piemonte for wine, already...I love wines from this region so much.

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Torino was so sunny and warm. It was warmer than in LA. As soon as I checked in at the hotel, I took a walk around the city central.

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Torino is famous for gelato and there is a big competition among so many gelaterias. The one I really wanted to go was Piu' di un Gelato. They have two locations and I went to the original one, which was hidden in a small street. The shop was so small and unpretentious, too. But, they make outstanding gelato. They source the freshly produced milk from local co-op every morning to make gelato. They also use premium ingredients for the flavors. I got three flavors: pistachio, hazelnuts, and dark chocolate. Mmmmm....really delicious and so creamy! I was so happy that I came here.

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Then, I walked a lot more. Police was all over the town today and they were blocking many streets. It seemed like there was some protest rally at one of the plazas. But the town was still peaceful enough.

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Because I was heavily jet-lagged and also quite tired from the long travel, I wasn't too hungry for dinner. So, I decided to try Caffe Roberto, a place that is famous for "apericena". This cafe is open all day, but at 6 pm, they serve "apericena", which is the combination of "aperitivo"(aperitif) and light "cena" (meal). It's only 9 euros, and you get a large selection of buffet-style appetizers plus a drink. What a deal! So, I ordered a red wine, and tried Italian appetizers. It was a nice relaxing time.

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I walked more to explore the town. I found Eataly's branch near my hotel. I want to have a drink there tomorrow.