This Slow Food “Salone” thing is huge. The conference center, our hotel, and enormous shopping mall are all part of the old Fiat factory. It’s impossible for me to gauge the size, as there is no anchor to use to get perspective. Employees get around on bicycles, scooters, and a hybrid big-wheel motorized scooter transport thingy. We’ve gotten the lay of the land and now talk about making a left at Puglia, or you should go past Liguria to find Umbria, and do you want to eat in Spain today? It’s a maze of cultures, flavors, smells. Despite my best interests to not get sucked into tasting yet another olio novello (the first pressed olive oil season), I can’t resist. Could you resist walking through Liguria and not tasting five varieties of pesto?
We are taking advantage of the numerous workshops that are offered and I started the day watching Eneko Atxa of the Azurmendi restaurant located outside of Bilbao explain how he does what he does. Chef Atxa takes the traditional flavors he grew up and figures out a way to bring the diner into his world. An oyster dish that is served with a magical seawater potion that transports you to the sea. A whimsical vegetable dish that literally looks and smells like a garden. We were treated to a tasting of an oxtail ‘ravioli’ where the rice paper thin shell was made from lardo and bread crumbs. The finale was a blood pudding ‘meat ball’ that is gently fried. The delicate crust cracks open to yield up it’s soft, fragrant succulent interior. We are definitely talking sex.
The wine courses are particularly interesting as the vintners explain the why and how of what they do. We spent part of the afternoon in Sicily, and if you ever run across “Occipiniti” wine, grab it immediately. Arianna is a very young winemaker and she’s going to make big waves in the Italian wine world. Later, Jeff went to Verdicchio land, while I indulged in a blue cheese and sweet red wine tasting.
Passion is alive and well here in Torino. (Wasn’t passion the Torino Olympic slogan? Well, it’s true.) Now it’s time to go back for day to. I think I’ll go to the Langhe this morning, I hear they make a bangin’ Nebbiolo. Stay tuned....