Long overdue! For a couple of years, Renzo and I had been ping-pong’ing “When are you coming to Berlin?!?!” and “You’re visiting me in Torino, right?!?!” but no solid plans materialised. Until this past Easter break when I received a stern reminder from the HR department about my remaining 38 holiday days left in 2018. I got my ass in gear, multiple flights were booked, including one to Torino!
As far as trip planning went, I’m flying into and out of Torino. For the nine days in-between, Renzo and I made loose plans to hang out by the seaside in Sanremo where his parents have a holiday home, maybe make a day trip or two to Côte d’Azur, maybe even drive to Milano to see old college friends. For sure, lots of yummy food, lots of catching up over chilled drinks in the sunshine, and driving around winding Italian countryside roads.
On Friday April 27th, I had planned my landing in Torino just in time for lunch, but the plane was annoyingly delayed at Frankfurt airport. I totally felt cheated out of one Italian meal, pah! Renzo, ever the gentleman, fetched me at the airport.
Renzo’s beautiful new home
AKA his year-long renovation project. When he called me to say he’d found the home, his next words were, “Don’t come until it’s ready in April.” He meant April 2017.
But, wow, what a cozy, homey, light-filled labour of love, filled with little personal details. Like his love for sugar skulls and rhinos.
After freshening up, we went for a walkabout in Torino centro. I left the DSLR at his and all photos taken on Friday night were taken on my iPhone.
Cakes and coffee at Olsen
We needed a caffeine injection so we headed around the corner to Torteria Olsen. We each had a slice of cake, which actually were more like pudding, since both were baked in a bain Marie.
The Far Breton was a lush milky pudding. Here are a couple of recipes if you’re interested in making your own:
Aperitivo at Affini
A shoot-and-run aperitivo because we had to catch our dinner reservation at Scannabue at 21:30. Renzo picked Affini and Scannabue in San Salvario for our Friday night adventures. San Salvario is the area located next to the main train station, Torino Porta Nuova. When I was working in Torino, I’d spent a lot of time in San Salvario because of the nice bars here and there are a couple of decent lunch spots too.
Dinner at Scannabue
I often say that the handsome-and-talented husband and I always screw up our first meal in Italy because we can’t pace ourselves. Thankfully Renzo was my sanity checker in this. In typical foodie fashion, we had to strategise what to order to maximise the experience of all the interesting-sounding dishes. We each went for an antipasti, primi and secondi piatti, with a dessert cannolo to share, which doesn’t typically happen but my secondi was about twice the amount I’d expected.
Scannabue offers traditional Piemontese dishes with a twist. Like the use of ginger in Renzo’s cappellacci and daikon radish in my veal tongue dish. The interior is Parisian bistro-ish, wooden furniture, leather-backed benches and green furnishings. It’s nice and informal, with friendly service.
Since we only sat down to dinner at 21:30, we finished dinner around midnight. We had stuffed ourselves silly, and I was thankful for the walk home. San Salvario was packed with people, all standing in the sidewalks outside bars and in the piazza in front of Scannabue, but the crowds lessened as we made our way back up to Quadrilatero Romano.
Breakfast at Il Gusto Giusto
After packing our stuff for the trip, we left the flat in search of breakfast. We went to this Sicilian place on Via Milano, close to Porta Palazzo, for a caffeine and sugar rush in the shape of cannoli and espressi. As if we didn’t get a cannolo overload the previous night.
Morning walkabout in the Mercato di Porta Palazzo
We walked through the daily market on our way from breakfast to where the car was parked. This is a big market, running daily except Sundays, typically from 08:00 until 14:00 on weekdays and until 19:00 on Saturdays. It was packed with people and I dislike crowds so we were in and out fair quickly.
So much yummy fresh produce though, beautiful artichokes, asparagus and puntarelle, and I was surprised I managed to walk away without buying anything.
When I was about five or six years old, growing up in Geneva, I came home from school one day and asked my mother to cook escargots. Indonesians have funky things in their cuisine, but not escargots. Or at least, not in my parents’ culture. My mother and our cook/helper were totally grossed out, but to indulge her culturally challenging child, my mother went to the supermarket to investigate.
My mother bought me a bag of frozen escargots because “It’s not in slug shape anymore, it’s been mixed with butter and herbs and restuffed into the shells.” She baked the escargots in the oven and served them on a plate for me. She looked at me like I was a science experiment as I ate the escargots ferociously, and according to her, I licked the shells clean, thanked her and ran off to play.
A super easy delicious Puntarelle recipe: put them in an icebath then slice/shave very thinly. Prepare a dressing/emulsion with olive oil, anchovy paste, salt and pepper to taste since the anchovy paste is already quite salty, a tiny bit of vinegar. Toss with the Puntarelle. Enjoy!
Lunch at La Piola in Alba
After last night’s ridiculous dinner, we had to strategise even more on lunch. We went 2-course, with a dessert to share. Renzo had the gnocchi for primo and cheese plate for secondo. I had the antipasto misto for primo and asparagus gratin for secondo. In the end I ate all the dessert. And drank all the wine. Because he had to drive.
Onwards to Sanremo!
See you in the write-up of the next leg of our trip : )