Ris­ing for­tunes FAM­ILY FAVOURITES

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From Page 1 Olympic chess and world fenc­ing cham­pi­onships were held, housed the ad­join­ing Terra Madre world food sym­po­sium.

I’m vis­it­ing Turin dur­ing the fes­ti­val, which first took place here in 1998. Held at the end of Oc­to­ber ev­ery sec­ond year, it has rapidly be­come one of the world’s most im­por­tant food and wine events, with its ethos of good, clean and fair food. Terra Madre, a world meet­ing of farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties, was added to the mix last year.

The event is vast. Grow­ers and pro­duc­ers dis­play their wares at an ocean of stalls that stretches as far as the eye can see. There are lanes ded­i­cated solely to cheeses, cured meats, condi­ments, grains, meat, fish and so on. There are taste work­shops, lec­tures, din­ners, films and mu­si­cal per­for­mances for the five days of the fes­ti­val. I spend hours tak­ing in this phe­nom­e­nal food event but with 432 stands and 188 booths show­cas­ing Ital­ian and in­ter­na­tional wares, I wish I had days to fully ex­plore this bustling metropo­lis. A by-prod­uct of the fes­ti­val’s suc­cess is the Slow Food-backed Uni­ver­sity of Gas­tro­nomic Sciences, an ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion es­tab­lished jointly by the Pied­mont and Emilia-Ro­magna re­gions.

Later, I wan­der across to neigh­bour­ing Eataly, the Slow Food-sanc­tioned mega­s­tore sell­ing wares di­rect from small-scale pro­duc­ers to the pub­lic. The store is lo­cated in the old Carpano liquor fac­tory — an­other venue clev­erly restyled — and it puts Aus­tralian su­per­mar­kets to shame.

That Turin was cho­sen as the base for such an im­por­tant food event has much to do with the fact that Slow Food pres­i­dent Carlo Petrini hails from nearby Bra. Al­though bet­ter-known Ital­ian re­gions have tra­di­tion­ally hogged the lime­light on the gas­tro­nomic front, Turin, and more widely the Pied­mont re­gion, has ar­guably some of the coun­try’s best food cre­den­tials.

Pied­mont is the big­gest rice-pro­duc­ing area in Europe (Carnaroli rice is grown here), it is home to Ta­leg­gio and Caste­lagno cheeses (the re­gion pro­duces more than 200 va­ri­eties of cheese), the fa­mous Gian­duiotti hazel­nut cho­co­lates are a Tori­nese favourite, grissini hails from here; and Lavazza cof­fee, too, is from Pied­mont.

Bagna cauda (a lus­cious, win­try pot of an­chovies, oil and gar­lic), bol­lito misto (mixed boiled meats), vitello tonato (veal with a sur­pris­ingly de­li­cious tuna, ca­per and an­chovy sauce) and ag­nolotti (stuffed pasta) are all re­gional spe­cial­ties. White truf­fles in nearby Alba, mean­while, are stars in their own right and com­mand their own fes­ti­val, while Pied­mon­tese wines, such as Barolo and Bar­baresco, are among the coun­try’s best.

Even that Ital­ian favourite, the aper­i­tivo, is Tori­nese; ver­mouth was in­vented in the city. The best place to try an aper­i­tivo, Viano in­forms me, is at one of Turin’s his­toric cafes, such as the or­nate Baratti & Mi­lano in Pi­azza Castello, which was re­stored in time for the Win­ter Olympics. The cafes tra­di­tion­ally were places where Tori­nese aris­to­crats and in­tel­lec­tu­als liked to gather and chat, or read elite Euro­pean news­pa­pers such as Le Fi­garo over aper­i­tivo and snacks.

By the time we reach Baratti & Mi­lano, how­ever, I choose not a mar­tini but a lo­cal spe­cialty called bicerin, a de­li­cious blend of chocolate, cream and cof­fee lay­ered into a glass. In the 17th cen­tury every­one liked to drink hot chocolate — a habit im­ported from the French and Swiss — but co­coa pow­der was very ex­pen­sive, so they started to blend it with cof­fee and cream,’’ says Viano.

It be­came a favourite drink. The idea is not to stir it but to sip and taste the three dif­fer­ent flavours. The Tori­nese never have it af­ter a meal, al­ways be­fore, and tra­di­tion­ally drink it in win­ter.’’

Ap­pro­pri­at­ing tastes and ideas from the French, par­tic­u­larly, was not un­usual for this Ital­ian city. With its prox­im­ity to the French bor­der (Turin is eight hours’ drive from Paris or 11/ hours by plane), the city is much more French than Ital­ian’’, ad­mits Viano. And learn­ing French is quite easy as a lot of words are the same [as the Pied­mon­tese di­alect].’’ Food, how­ever, is cer­tainly not Turin’s only draw­card. With its 18 mil­lion square kilo­me­tres of park­land, 300km of tree-lined streets, four me­an­der­ing rivers, grand pi­az­zas and or­nate shop­ping ar­cades, Turin is a city that de­mands to be ex­plored by foot.

There is lit­tle need to travel 140km north­east to Mi­lan for great clothes shop­ping when there’s the Tori­nese mec­cas of via Roma, via Garibaldi and via Po to be ex­plored. Stay­ing at the cen­trally lo­cated Grand Ho­tel Sitea, I am well placed to seek out the best re­tail op­por­tu­ni­ties. Via Roma is per­haps the city’s best shop­ping strip, its el­e­gant por­ti­coes of­fer­ing pro­tec­tion from the el­e­ments, mean­ing shop­ping is pos­si­ble no mat­ter how test­ing the weather. On via Roma you’ll find all the big­gest names in fash­ion — Ar­mani, Dolce & Gab­bana, Prada and the like — along­side some more af­ford­able op­tions (I nip into Zara to snap up a few bar­gains). Nearby streets of­fer ev­ery­thing from home­wares to fabrics, jew­ellery and an­tiques. Via Garibaldi, the long­est pedes­trian street in the city, has less ex­pen­sive stores, sell­ing jeans, books, hi-fi equip­ment, per­fume and lots more. Via Po, mean­while, is good for an­tique book­shops and shoe stores. For shop­ping of a dif­fer­ent kind, visit Porta Palazzo — the big­gest open-air mar­ket in Europe — which is open daily and has stalls sell­ing ev­ery­thing from ve­g­ies, fish, meats and cheeses to shoes, clothes and flow­ers.

On the cul­tural front, Turin has be­come a lead­ing THAT such a vast ar­ray of good-qual­ity pro­duce is avail­able in Turin is what makes Ma­rina Ra­masso’s role as head chef at the de­light­ful L’Os­te­ria del Paluch, a fam­ily-owned restau­rant in an old farm­house just out of town, such a joy. ‘‘ I am very lucky to run a small restau­rant as I can go to the farm and buy just one dozen eggs; I am­not obliged to go to the shops and buy big quan­ti­ties,’’ she says. ‘‘ I use tra­di­tional recipes and sea­sonal pro­duce and I try to use lo­cal prod­ucts.’’

Af­ter a long day ex­plor­ing Turin, there is noth­ing bet­ter than a leisurely din­ner at Ra­masso’s rus­tic restau­rant. I’m treated to some of her de­li­cious home­made fare: bagna cauda and veg­eta­bles, pump­kin gnoc­chi with castel­mani cheese and wal­nuts, veal strac­cotto and more desserts than I’ve seen in one sit­ting. Ra­masso pro­duces a pile of old cook­ery books with hand­writ­ten Pied­mon­tese recipes from the 19th cen­tury, which she has bought from old restau­rants and pri­vate homes. ‘‘ I have not mod­i­fied the recipes,’’ she says proudly. ‘‘ I cook from the orig­i­nal dishes.’’

The next night, my din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is en­tirely dif­fer­ent. At Ris­torante Lo­canda Mon­greno, tra­di­tional Ital­ian dishes are turned on their head by chef Pier Bus­setti, a Pied­mon­tese son who trav­elled the world and re­turned to put what he had learned into prac­tice. Bus­setti has turned his at­ten­tions to de­con­struct­ing Pied­mon­tese favourites. In the most ex­treme ex­am­ple of the night, Bus­setti presents us with his ver­sion of veal tongue in red sauce, which com­prises a tongue pra­line, a tiny piece of br­uschetta and boiled tongue perched on bread sauce.

The two din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences per­haps sum up Turin, a city that val­ues its past but has ac­cepted it must look to the fu­ture to suc­ceed in the com­pet­i­tive world of tourism. Michelle Rowe More: Lo­canda Mon­greno, Strada Co­mu­nale Mon­greno 50, 10132, Turin. Phone +39 011 898 0417.

www.ris­toran­tepaluch.it Euro­pean cap­i­tal for con­tem­po­rary art due to fund­ing from pub­lic and pri­vate ini­tia­tives, and there are dozens of mu­se­ums and ex­hi­bi­tions to visit.

My favourite among Turin’s myr­iad cul­tural col­lec­tions is the spec­tac­u­lar art nou­veau Na­tional Cin­ema Mu­seum, housed in­side the five-level Mole An­tonel­liana build­ing, the city’s fo­cal point. Turin was the birth­place of Ital­ian cin­ema (it was in Turin in March 1896 that the Lu­miere broth­ers first pro­jected mov­ing pic­tures) and this mu­seum charts the his­tory of the genre, from

Fash­ion precinct: El­e­gant por­ti­coes line Turin’s via Roma, one of the city’s most exclusive shop­ping streets shadow the­atre to an­i­ma­tion, cin­e­matog­ra­phy, im­age and move­ment, pro­jec­tion and more. There are dozens of hands-on dis­plays and it’s easy to spend a full day ex­plor­ing the place. Don’t for­get to take a trip in the glass-walled lift that fer­ries vis­i­tors to the top of the Mole — mer­ci­fully stop­ping be­fore it shoots, Willy Wonka­like, through the ceil­ing — and spills its pas­sen­gers on to an out­door deck with 360-de­gree views of the city.

An­other great ex­hi­bi­tion is the Mu­seum of Egyp­tian Art, which houses the big­gest and most im­por­tant col­lec­tion of Egyp­tian arte­facts out­side Cairo. The mu­seum is to be in­creased in size from 6000sq m to 10,000sq m, the first phase of which will be com­pleted by 2011 (the year the city will host the 150th an­niver­sary of Ital­ian unity). Also ex­pected to re­open af­ter ren­o­va­tions in time for this much-an­tic­i­pated event is the fa­mous Guar­ini Chapel, which houses the Holy Shroud. With th­ese and many more projects in the pipe­line, Turin’s rein­ven­tion as a city of the fu­ture shows no signs of slow­ing.

Pi­ano’s new Banca In­tesa San­paolo sky­scraper, near what will be a to­tally re­mod­elled Porta Susa rail­way sta­tion, is to come on track in the next few years, old in­dus­trial neigh­bour­hoods are be­ing trans­formed into thriv­ing ur­ban vil­lages and mil­lion ($104 mil­lion) has been al­lo­cated to ren­o­vate many of the city’s build­ings and parks.

Last year, Turin was named the first world de­sign cap­i­tal, a sta­tus al­most un­think­able dur­ing its in­dus­trial past. By the time the much-an­tic­i­pated 2011 unity cel­e­bra­tions roll into town, the city’s am­bi­tious re­gen­er­a­tion will al­most be com­plete.

The city of the car has fi­nally hit the fast lane. Michelle Rowe was a guest of the Ital­ian Tourist Board and Eti­had.

Check­list

Eti­had flies to Mi­lan via Abu Dhabi from Syd­ney and Bris­bane and will start ser­vices from Mel­bourne in March. More: www.eti­hadair­ways.com. Turin is 140km south­west of Mi­lan, about a 11/ hour drive. Rail con­nec­tions are avail­able from Mi­lan’s Malpensa Air­port. More: Porta Palazzo, Pi­azza della Repub­blica; Baratti & Mi­lano, Pi­azza Castello. +39 011 440 7138. www.slow­food.com www.ter­ra­madre.org www.sitea.thi.it www.museocin­ema.it www.museoe­gizio.it www.italian­tourism.com.au www.tur­is­mo­torino.org

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