Have you ever thought how many shapes and colors can take chocolate? Actually you would be surprised that so many. I saw it for me own eyes during chocolate CioccolaTo’ festival in Turin. From November 22nd to December 1st the capital of Piedmont transformed into a real kingdom of sweets inciting appetite of children and adults. The hart of the event was located in San Carlo square – a spacious arcaded piazza, with beautiful palaces around. In 17th century it hosted artisans shops and today it attracts with old cafe’s and bars, nicely decorated confectionary windows and different events.
I arrived to piazza San Carlo in the last day of the festival. The weather was excellent – a nice temperature and perfectly blue sky which encourage visitors to relax on a beach specially prepared for the festival. On a sunbed, under a sunshade I tried a piece of bread with some chocolate spread over. It wasn’t the only opportunity for tastings as numerous stands with sweets grew up on both sides of the square where I met both local and global producers. Wondering among tents I couldn’t keep my eyes off enormous and heavy bars of chocolate stuffed with hazelnuts, roasted rice or wildly chili hot peppers. I was admiring pralines wrapped in colorful papers or elegant boxes of chocolate. In one corner of piazza my attention was attracted by quite extraordinary choco kebab, and in some other place by chocolate pizza (what can I say, we are in Italy, at the end!). And because the event was only few weeks before Christmas Santa Claus couldn’t be missed. A sweet sculpture was located in organizer tent where everybody could participate in numerous meetings dedicated to different sweets manufacturers, free tastings, workshops with masters chocolatier and attractions dedicated to the youngest participants of the festival.
But what I liked the most it was a chocolate factory. Close to the stand of honored guest of CioccolaTo’ 2013 – Ivory Coast, the biggest in the world cocoa beans producer – Silvio Bessone, chocolatier from Piedmont, decided to show a production process of Gianduiotti, one of Turin sweet specialties. Their name comes from a special gianduia paste that was created in the middle of 19th century. It was invented by Michele Prochet, a confectioner living in Turin, who decided to add local hazelnuts from the Langhe to a mix of cocoa (very expensive at that times ) and sugar. First pralines was produced in 1865 in Caffarel factory and they conquered harts of Torinese immediately. Today Gianduiotti exist in different variants of taste and they are prepared by many manufacturers.
Coming back to the factory. Silvio Bessone accumulated in one place different equipment used for chocolate preparation, yute bags filled with cocoa beans and Gianduiotti, of course. But people’s attention was focused mainly on a traditional mixer with a shining brown mass inside and a man that was telling about the process of obtaining cocoa. It turned out he was a legal adviser of manufacturer who was personally involved in a project. Like the entrepreneur he believes the best chocolate can be created only by having full control of each phase of cacao beans processing. Chocolatier from Piedmont doesn’t limit himselfes to buying raw material but takes an active part in its processing. On Sri Lanca and in Ecuador he established two biodanamic cocoa plantations and he personally supervises the process of cultivation, harvesting, fermentation, drying procedure, separation and roasting phase.
Looking at all these wonderful and beautifully smelling sweets I wished to drink Bicerin. It’s a traditional drink from Turin based on espresso, chocolate and cream. It has been serving since 1763 in a special small glass, from which he took his name (bicerin in Turin dialect means a small glass) in a tiny coffee shop Al Bicerin. Finding a free table even in work days borders on a miracle, so I didn’t expected to be lucky that Sunday afternoon. But honestly I didn’t expected such a queue outside!