eTrip | Turin and the chocolate factories
eTrip´s culinairy team discovers why Turin is the chocolate capitol of the world and visits some of the worlds renowned chocolatier workshops.
A little history while we take a sip
It was the year 1678 when the powers that were granted a guy in Turin a license to make and sell hot chocolate. It soon became an addiction in the city and when Caffè Florio in the Via Po (yes, the same place) concocted a beverage from strong coffee, chocolate and milk, much later cream replaced the milk. It was soon called ´bicerin´ after the small glass or beaker it was served in.
Hot chocolate or ´bicerin´ became the drink of the town. It was hot and relativey cheap. Everybody sold it, allthough many created their own variation. In 1763 a small caffè dedicated itself completely to the beverage and called itself ´Al Bicerin´ (and yes, still open today, which proves if you have a good product, stick with it), but their recipe is still a long guarded secret. At the time it wasn´t because of the stimulating conversation and arguments that went on in Caffè Bicerin by local artists, students and scholars. A more prosaic reason kept them coming as also the heat of the furnace kept the poor intelligentia warmer than if they stayed home. To finally raise the price of the bicerin the caffè´s started serving bagnati, a cookie for dunking purposes.
Turin is chocolate town
Meanwhile Turin had become the chocolate capital of Europe. Towards the end of the 18th century tons of cocoa was being recycled into all sort of solid chocolate products in the numerous workshops and laboratori all over the city and exported to all the major cities: London, Bern, Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna. The chocolate Easter egg is a product invented in Turin. Belgian and Swiss artisans travelled to Turin as apprentices, going back to start chocolateries and factories of their own, likely to become famous in their own right, like Nestle for example.
When a shortage of cocoa threatened the industry during the Napoleontic wars and subsequent blockade of the ports in Italy, some genius started to grind up the locally grown hazelnuts to mix with the deminishing supply of chocolate, and guess how famous that became some 200 years later? Nutella!
The 6 best chocolatiers of Torino:
Located about a half hour outside Turin toward the Alps, Guido Castagna specialises in chocolate bars made with cocoa that is specially selected in Ecuador, Venezuela, Madagascar and Ghana. Try the maraschino, amaretto and hazelnut truffles.
Via Torino 54, Giaveno, +39 011 97 66 618
Fabrizio is an up-and-coming chocolatier who has opened a workshop next to his parents' restaurant, Tre Colombe, just outside Turin. His bassinati, small bits of chocolate-coated candied fruit and Gioja chocolate spread are to die for.
Via Chivasso 79b, San Sebastiano da Po, +39 011 91 91 561
This is the best known brand in Turin as well as in all of Italy. The shop is on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. A classic is the Torta Peyrano, a three-layer sandwich cake filled with chocolate cream and orange marmalade and coated with dark chocolate.
Workshop, Corso Moncalieri 47, Turin, +39 011 66 02 202;
shop and café, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 76, +39 011 53 87 65
The workshop is situated in a residential area of Turin. This is a creative chocolatier, who makes over a 100 different fillings for his chocolates, including his most sought-after product, an delicious square chocolate flavoured with rum named after his grandfather Felicin.
Via Fratelli Carle 40, Turin, +39 011 50 48 52
A social cooperative specialising in the Turin classics: small 100gm gianduiotti, cremini and chocolates with cream fillings ranging from pineapple and chilli to green tea and mint and ginger and rosemary.
Via Saorgio 139b, Turin, +39 011 21 62 293
Generally known as the most brilliant chocolatier of his generation he produces the best classic gianduiotti in Turin. His ganache includes light summer flavours, such as lemon and clove, orange and eucalyptus, and black tea.
No visit to Turin would be complete without a tour of his workshop.
Workshop, Via Cagliari 15b, Turin;
Shop, Via Lagrange 1, Turin, +39 011 56 60 707
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