This morning it’s raining. It’s been raining since yesterday mid-afternoon. It’s not the relentlessly heavy Turin rain but it’s a lot for London, along with the sometimes fierce wind. By 3:30pm it looks like twilight and the mornings are dark enough that I light candles rather than turn on the lamps. It must be November!
London feels nothing like Turin. The light, the architecture, the feel of the streets, the earthy smell here. It feels more mellow in Hackney.
The last week in Torino the rains started and it was hard to find a day when it felt OK to be out. It rains in London, of course, but it’s a manageable rain – with few exceptions. In Turin the rain is incessant and heavy, with only short breaks. We did wander, when we weren’t indoors keeping dry and slowly filling cases.
The streets of central Torino – Centro – can be grand but in between these wide boulevards are the quiet narrow streets. Imagine this in central London – even in the back streets and alleys!
I’m also fascinated by the inner courtyards. Just off via Garibaldi there’s a courtyard that leads into other courtyards, each with its own shops and apartments and little cafes. It was raining this day and things were very quiet. It’s like a hidden oasis from the mad shoppers, who are never stopped by rain.
The Piazza San Carlo is a very grand square. Krish was amused by the statue since his favourite crisps are the San Carlo brand. He said that every time he saw the statue he needed to thank the man (is it even San Carlo?) for this taste treat. The square is used a lot for events. In this case they are getting ready for the Chocolate Festival that was taking place the week after we left. Bad timing!
The annual festival of artists’ lights was starting to take shape. We saw a few as we left. This one had projections of lacy patterns over the paving stones. It looked so pretty. In fact, Piazza Carignano is the prettiest square in Centro. If I return, I want to explore it better.
I can’t write about anywhere without talking about the food!
Venice was recently in the news – tourists were given exorbitant bills. In Italian restaurants, fish may be priced by the 100g. Unsuspecting tourists think this is the full price and then freak out when the bills arrive. Beware! However, food is quite expensive in Venice. Everything is quite expensive in Venice. It’s had quite some journey to your plate.
I did read about excellent meals served in Venice. I sadly didn’t see or have one. But, for the record, Venice is beside the sea and so has a lot of seafood. In a better world, this is a no-brainer. Hint – stick to the three Ps: pizza, panini, and pasta…as usual!
The first night we decided to follow Chowhound advice and went to a fancier restaurant. It was along the Cannaregio canal so it was easy to find. We had a 72 Euro meal. Was it worth it? Judge for yourself.
And, yes, Venice has fast food — misnomer! Italians don’t do ‘fast.’ At the McD’s – where I caved and decided a McMuffin for breakfast was better than a sweet pastry (the usual Italian breakfast food) there was one server, one cook, everything done slo mo. I left after 15 minutes of standing, certain I’d be another 15. At the KFC I had an awful time telling them what I wanted but eventually it arrived – a tiny container of barely BBQ beans, and a corn cobette – ah, roughage!
Shopping is interesting. There are a lot of small shops. I did see one department store near St Mark’s Square that looked absolutely fabulous but it wasn’t open yet so I couldn’t go in. I was not going back to that area again! Venetians also seem to like pretty fashion items, leather, and lots of lots of souvenirs here.
The temperature dipped and on went the warmer clothes. Calendar Fall is already here and now Real Fall is settling in wherever it can. The light is different and the air is clearer. How long till I can really see the Alps?
The free museum days in Torino are perfect for me. I don’t like to spend too much time looking around and in London this means I can pop in for a short time, leave when tired, and come back again when I have an inclination. Torino has designated days each month for free visits. First Tuesdays, first Saturdays, first Sundays…with a few others thrown in for good measure. On the first Tuesday of October, I went to the MAO – Museo d’Arte Orientale (Museum of Oriental Art). It’s on Via San Domenica in the Quadrilatero so an easy walk.
The exhibit on the main floor was of photographs of the Nomads of Asia. This didn’t sound all that interesting but I was wrong. I was so struck by these peoples who wander the plains of Asia – China, Asia, India, the middle East – living a life unchanged for hundreds of years. Some of the colours and clothing and customs were stunning. It seemed almost impossible to imagine that they were living in the same century that I was, or on the same planet at times.
Of course, I am struck by the images of women, doing the tasks that have never changed. The only clue that these are modern women are in the photos showing plastic bags and other paraphenalia around the walls of their tents. In three different regions of this massive continent, there are so many similarities.
And, most strikingly, this woman weaving, while tending to her child. No doubt there is food simmering somewhere that she will pay attention to. This multitasking changes from culture to culture yet is always the same in nature. The job of nurturing.
I’m always struck by the Gujarati of India. Gujarati people are descended from Aryan nomads who lived in the valleys of the Indus River in 2000 BC and settled in Gujarat. They now make make up about one third of the diaspora worldwide.
As is often the case, the museum was more interesting than expected. I loved the photo exhibition. I liked the exhibit spaces less and I felt a little stifled.
Third time trying and this year I finally managed to get a cooking lesson in Torino. My source was Bonappetour. I’ll definitely check this again for the future!
The course I chose was Market to Table with Rosemarie. The plan – meet for breakfast, go to the market, cook, eat! This reminded me of Lucy’s classes in Lyon so it was familiar. Always a little cautious, I set off on Friday morning just about 8am. I couldn’t find a single way to avoid the dreaded metro but ‘go’ it was.
I’d done a little reading and, coincidentally, had stumbled over comments about Rosemarie and her cooking classes in other Torino blogs. That’s also how I discovered her blog! So when she walked into the little caffeteria, I knew her instantly. Accidental stalking pays off! We each had a pastry with pear and ginger and I had a ‘cappuccia’ – thanks to Rosemarie for teaching me that word.
The local market, Brunelleschi, is very small compared to Porta Palazzo and the markets Giovanni introduced me to but it’s got everything you’d need and it’s calmer and less rude. Rosemarie bought beans, pears, a cheese with peppercorns, some ricotta, five salted anchovies from Spain. It’s good to listen and pick up the market terms, hearing things that might be useful for me later. I was impressed by how the stall holders could make suggestions when Rosemarie told them what she was cooking. From here we moved on to a butcher where again they listened to the menu and knew what meat to cut up for stewing. And a generous stalk of sage, inside a twist of paper.
At the bakery, Rosemarie chose grissini and six crusty buns warm from the oven. At the wine store, they listened carefully to what we were going to eat and suggested the wine. As we left, Rosemarie told me they wanted me to have a biscuit – yum! I chose fig and nut.
Rosemarie lives on the third floor of a slightly older apartment building. We get there in a tiny lift whose doors are opened manually. I survive that risk too! The flat is large and homey. The whole thing is homey.
Rosemarie had invited another person over to help her with prep and cleaning. I’m surprised that it’s another Torino blogger that have I been reading, Sonia. (Did I find them through each other’s sites?) It feels a little odd knowing that I have had a glimpse of their Torino lives, while I’m a stranger. But it does feel like I’m among friends. That’s a good feeling.
It’s also a good feeling to have a helper while you’re cooking. Sonia set things out, cleaned up behind us, and was an expert hand with kneading the pasta dough. I learned a lot and I got to prep and help with the cooking. I’m pretty sure I could manage to cook all of these things with a little patience – not my strongest suit, going slowly.
The menu, as promised in email — Appetiser: acciughe al verde (Anchovies in green sauce) Starter: agnolotti al plin con burro e salvia (pinched agnolotti in butter and sage) Main: Fricandò di manzo (Piedmontese beef fricandò) Dessert: Pere cotte al vino (Pears poached in wine).