A region defined by Alpine majesty and soccer royalty, birthplace of Fiat and Martini & Rossi, and the home of the 2006 Winter Olympics – Torino! A baroque gem amidst a predominantly medieval Europe, Turin, as much of the world calls this industrial Italian city, is nestled in the far northwest corner of the boot, about an hour and a half from Milan. For me, it’s a ‘home away from home,’ and although 100% Calabrese, I often say that my blood is Calabrese, but my heart is Piemontese (Torino is in the capital of the region of Piemonte). Growing up, I spent almost every summer in Torino (the Italian version of Turin), and over the years, I have fallen in love with this unique region that is often missed in the shadows of Rome, Florence, and Venice. Turin is a city of firsts (it was the first capital of Italy), and the gastronomy of this metropolis is a foodie dream come true. Regional specialties are not ‘typical Italian’ – bagna caôda (a hot garlic-cream-oil dip for vegetables), truffles and porcini dishes galore, vitello tonnato (thinly sliced cold beef with a tuna cream sauce)…the list goes on and on, but one flavor captures the true essence of the region. Genuinely Torinese. Purely Piemontese. Gianduja!
Gianduja is an epic, harmonious combination of fine Italian chocolate and hazelnut (about 1/3 of the latter), and if you’ve ever indulged in Nutella, you’ve experienced the divinity of Gianduja (in fact, Nutella was originally called Pasta Gianduja). In Torino, you’ll find Gianduiotti, the oddly shaped Gianduja chocolates of Turin (long, rectangular chocolate pyramids with bits of hazelnut). Café’s that line the porticos of ‘centro Torino’ often feature an espresso version of the flavor, as well as cakes, puddings, gelatos, and many other desserts.
Here’s my take on an Espresso Gianduja, one sip and I’m sitting in my own Turin café. Brush the inside, bottom, and sides of an espresso cup heavily with Nutella, Brush all the way up to the rim of the cup. Add 1-2 tablespoons Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur, and dispense 1 shot of espresso into the cup (I prefer an espresso ristretto with a golden and hearty crema). If you want it a little sweeter, add a small spoon of sugar.