Accidentally in Love with Torino
After a spontaneous decision to head slightly west from my original Northern Italy route, I have found myself in the elegant and humble city of Torino, or Turin as it is better known outside of Italy. This decision sprouted from a convincing recommendation from my Canadian friend who had visited earlier and left with only great things to say. And she wasn’t wrong.
The city portrays an atmosphere of sophistication coupled with an understated easy going attitude. The elegance is shown in it’s array of beautiful museums and arched streets (porticoes) much like those in Bologna and it’s laid back vibe is seen in the trendy and lively cafe and bar scenes scattered throughout the city. It has the same high fashion shopping as Milan without the feeling of business and elitism and the same easy going vibe as Bologna but on a slightly larger scale and with more sophistication. It also has chocolate!
The whole time I have been in Italy I have been indulging far too much in all things nocciola and chocolate. In other words I have consumed more Nutella and Nutella flavoured foods than I think any one person should in their entire lifetime. Whether it be gelato, chocolate, torta or plain old Nutella spread, if it’s chocolate and hazelnut, I’ve been eating it. This divine flavour combination is something that the Italians do extremely well, dangerously well if you ask me! And by visiting Torino I accidentally found out why.
Torino is actually the birth place of the chocolate from which this flavour combination emerged, it goes by the name of Gianduja ( john-DOO-yah) and once you have experienced it no other chocolate will compare. It is the flavour that Nutella is inspired from but Nutella will never be in the same league as the coveted Gianduja. This chocolate gold came about in the early 1800s when Cocoa beans became scarce so the chocolatiers in Turin decided to extend their supplies as much as possible by adding hazelnut paste from the flavoursome and locally grown hazelnuts that were easy to produce and obtain. From then on Turin has been famous for this particular chocolate and it’s velvety smooth texture and distinct taste has been preserved over time with local chocolatiers sticking to the original recipe. The secret lies in the high hazelnut content used and the flavour if the Piedmont hazelnuts.
So if you are visiting Turin it is an absolute must to sample this original and historical chocolate, it can be on the expensive side, especially in seasons when hazelnuts are scarce but it is well worth it. I sampled Gianduja at Guido Gobino a delicate chocolate shop not far from the University and the Egyptian Museum. I was later told that this is probably the best chocolate shop in Turin so it is the perfect place to have your first divine Gianduja intervention. ¡viva my new chocolate obsession!