As you all know I spend each summer in Italy. I love the energy here, the light, the food, the people, the patina, driving fast on the winding roads, hanging in the piazza sipping espresso, or Campari, the lifestyle suits me. As you all know by now I love food, eating, preparing, cooking and feeding and entertaining my friends, so Italy is a home away from home in every sense of the word. Cause let's face it food is a big deal in Italy.
One of the great things about the location of our home here, is that we are near amongst many things,and one thing close to my heart... the center of the "slow food " movement. No we are not in Tuscany, although everyone seems to think we are, ( I don't bother to correct people when they say "how's your place in Tuscany" , I just roll with it, we live in Liguria on the Italian riviera it to is chocked full of olives, grapes and great food stuffs like great fish, and pesto!) Although I have to give props to Tuscany for marketing the hell out of the region, truth be know there are many other regions just as fantastic and magical and delicious. Not that I want to start marketing our region, I will leave the droves of American tourists to Tuscany. At this point in time in my town the main language heard on the street is Italian. e pefetto!
For months now, Frank and I wanted to check out a food emporium near us, "Eataly" , a clever name and soon we found out clever concept. Not only does the store have a fantastic selection on food, they offer classes in food and wine, and have many restaurants to choose from to boot. (Word on the street is that one will open in Manhattan in late summer. But I find it hard to believe that it will have the same effect there, as it did on me here last week, but I will check it out none the less)
Since Eataly is located in Torino (Turin) we decided to start there and work our way down to Bra, Alba and Barolo. Our day trip began at 9 am with a quick stop at the Autogrill for an Italian power breakfast of double espresso and a chocolate brioche. YUM...
then at warp speed (me driving) we headed to Torino on the autostada....My husband and I love our trips to the Piedmont we go several times a year to enjoy the seasonal fare , great wine and beautiful scenery.
We arrived around 10:30 and walked through the doors of Eataly, I was so impressed and in awe of the well thought out design and gorgeous displays of food everywhere. Of course the products knocked my socks off, all Italian, all organic. Literally soup to nuts+much more, this place was the high church to products of Italy. (I can't help but think the the U.S. will try to dilute the Italian fare at the NYC Eataly, with it's own bio-friendly merchandise, but we shall see.)
When I checked out the olive oil aisle, I felt like Robin Williams in the movie, "Coming to America", where he plays an Russian immigrant coming to America, and when he walks into an American grocery store for the first time, all the choices of food, make him faint.
I did feel a bit wobbly in the aisle I must admit.
The store is cleverly thought out, as each food section has it's own restaurant dedicated to each food classification, for example in the the pasta and bread section there is a restaurant offering a menu of pastas and pizza, and sandwiches. In the produce section, there is a vegetarian restaurant ( it's where we ate lunch) offering salads and wonderful vegetarian fare, my husband had the baked eggplant that was sublime. The meat section, offers a full meat oriented menu, the fish and so on. There is even a beer pub in the basement, where the beer and massive wine cellar is located.
The wine cellar, is the biggest most fantastic selection I have ever witnessed. Of course we were near Barolo, (more on that later).
Once we bought out the store and had a delicious lunch at Eataly.
We headed from Torino and worked our way down to Bra, Barolo, and Alba (white truffle capital of the world:)
First stop, the small city of Bra known as the center of the "slow food" movement. This small city in the Piedmont region, is about 1 hour drive from our door, it is actually referred to as the slow capital of the universe. Bra, (short for "braida" it means ~ the planting of vines in wide rows so the grain could be sown in between) was founded in c.1000 and in 1552 became a loyal subject of the Savoys. As of 1999 , it was a founding member of what has been called Neo-Humanism the league of slow cities which has now spread worldwide. Slow food the opposite of Fast food (btw) "what better weapon against fast food than slow food", wrote writer Carlo Petrini in 1986 in Bra , when word came that a McDonalds was opening in the center of Rome. He and his friends protested the opening, of course the McDonalds opened and became one of the corporations top ten earning outlets. Half seriously Petrini published the slow food manifesto defending the 2 hour lunch and the 4 hour dinner, condemning the slavery of speedy and lack of conviviality in modern industrial society, and so it started. The emphasis of teaching and reminding and defending what good food and wine tastes like. Encouraging people to eat locally and seasonally. For more information visit Slow Foods Website
We walked through town, and noted all the cool bio and local food shops, even the clothing stores were bio and environment oriented, featuring local artisans in food and wares. Lots of bikes, and limited traffic were evident as well. We stopped in Alba truffle capital and we will go back in the fall when truffles are in season as well. Although buying truffle honey gave a us a great reason to break out the Parmesan cheese and bread from Eataly and indulge in our wine purchase from Barolo (more on that next time) at an impromptu picnic on the side of the road:)
What can I say, our trip to Eataly was a great one, my first time, but I will go back in the next few weeks! But this time I won't buy out the store:) and Bra, Alba, and Barolo charming cities... simply sublime....
Next time more on Barolo, king of wines....