Monday, October 27, 2008
This is the 1st of a couple of posts about my trip to Torino for the 2008 Salone del Gusto exposition, which is Slow Food's biggest production and happens every 2 years. I left from San Benedetto Thursday morning on the 5:08 train, changing in Ancona and again in Milano to finish an almost 8 hour voyage to Turin. The big exposition is in the former Fiat factory, which was converted years ago, and is big enough to handle the 10's of thousands of visitors who pack in every 2 years to view food and beverage products from all over the world. Some are large commercial vendors (who pay the bills), but the rest consist of little niche producers of everything from salami to chocolate, liqueurs to cheeses, and honey to apples. Also, each region of Italy is represented with their own stand with tourist information and more importantly, their particular regional specialties. Many also offer degustation menus for lunch and dinner which you can try for a reasonable fee if you make a reservation. Check out the links at Slowfood.com.
I wanted to arrive early so I could visit my neighbor and friend Marco, who makes a very particular and special wine from Cupramarittima called Kurni. The vertical tasting of 5 of his wines which is 100% Montepulciano was sold out and the 2004 was really exceptional! We are hosting the master's class from the University of gastronomic sciences in a couple of weeks and they will get to visit the winery and have lunch with the maestro and we are going to tag along.
From there, it was time to say hi to all my old tutors and professors from the University and then see the sights of Salone. There are thousands of stands to visit and I was lucky enough to find many of my old acquaintances from our stage visits, who make everything from the best risotto rice (Acquarello) to the best culatello (Spigheroli).
My old classmates started trickling in as well and the weekend of partying and catching up with my buds was underway. After sampling my way around many of the food booths and buying all of Raffaele's requests I could find, like special chocolate cakes from Firenze and a liqueur called Genepi, I went to the last tasting of the day which was of Veuve Cliquot. The winemaker brought the 3 still wines they used to blend the Yellow Label in 2007: Petit Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We tried each of these, then the final assemblage and then the finished yellow label itself. Top that off with the 2005 vintage brut, rose and extra rich champagnes and then the 1988 and 1985 vintages and you have a very interesting and fun degustazione!
I then caught the bus to the main train station, Porta Nuova and walked 1.7 km to my bed and breakfast, arriving at midnight...end of day 1 (the easy day!).
The pictures show Marco of Kurni, the panel for the Veuve tasting and musical performers who play native instruments at various venues around Salone. Also included is one of the little forums where small producers are interviewed about their product and the problems they might have with production or marketing. They are helped by the Slow Food foundation with financial support and expert advice, so their niche product will not disappear forever. Many of these producers are unique in the world and finding someone to carry on the tradition is important as well and cannot happen if their is not a financial incentive to continue.