Why I Love Torino
I return to Torino/Turin every chance I can get. It’s my favorite large city for its regal elegance, and most of all because it became my Italian “hometown” when I studied abroad in college. As anyone who has studied abroad knows, your home away from home gets etched on your heart and shapes you, perhaps even more than your own hometown because when you’re away from all you’ve ever known, that’s when you truly grow. I can’t believe it’s been 14 years now since my semester in Torino, but there is no other place in the world that has the magical combination of both familiarity and novelty. Every time I return, I “discover” something new. Thanks to Lucia Hannau, Turin native and founder of Turin Epicurean Capital, this time I had the pleasure of discovering Latteria Bera.
Latteria Bera can be found just a block or so away from Piazza Castello on Via San Tommaso, 13, right across from the original 1895 Lavazza coffee shop! If already running late like I was (due to a missed train), you just might run past Latteria Bera. Luckily Lucia was there to stop me as I ran by!
At Latteria Bera, we were greeted by the lovely Chiara who runs the shop that was founded by her grandmother in 1958. The shop’s tiny size doesn’t limit the abundance of delightful culinary surprises that come in the form of chocolates & candies, cheese, cold cuts, wine, and other traditional products.
It truly is a hidden gem (hidden in the sense that non-locals might not know about it) and represents everything that I love about Italian cuisine & culture: a family-owned specialty shop with local & traditional products, and a passion for quality and the land from which they are sourced. Furthermore, it is so inspiring to see the entrepreneurial and culinary passion be handed down through generations of women.
Pictured from left to right: Sarah, her mother Paula, Chiara, and me (photo by Lucia)
Chiara had an abundant spread of cheeses, bread, and wine for our tasting ready for us. The shop happened to be closed for the midday break, so we had a very cozy and uninterrupted tasting experience.
I was joined by Sarah Mikutel (pictured above) who hosts the food, travel & culture podcast the Postcard Academy as well as Podcasting Step by Step. Sarah already holds dual Italian-American citizenship, and has been a great help to me on my own citizenship journey. After several attempts to meet up in Italy over the years, I’m so glad we finally made it happen! The best part about delicious food is wonderful company to share it with.
Cheeses pictured above (clockwise from far right):
- Sairass Ricotta (100% cow’s milk) – Piedmont
- Toma Gianduiotto (100% pasteurized cow’s milk) – Piedmont
- Robiola di Murazzano (70% Sheep milk, 30% raw cow’s milk) – Piedmont
- Sairasot Fresh Toma (100% raw goat milk)
- Cappello del Mago (Aged raw goat milk, seasoned in cave) – Piedmont
- Toma Lait Real (Aged 4 months, 100% raw cow milk)
- Pecorino from Siena (100% pasteurized sheep milk) – Tuscany
- Riserva del Fondatore (100% sheep milk, seasoned in a cave) – Tuscany
- Blu del Moncenisio (100% cow milk) – Piedmont
- Caciocavallo Podolico (with lime) – Southern Italy
- Pecorino with black truffles – Tuscany
I am forever amazed by the seemingly infinite nature of Italian cuisine, from formaggi, salumi, primi, secondi to dolci. I have tried A LOT of Italian cheeses (or so I thought), and these were all new to me! Next time I’m going to bring a notebook or take notes in my phone to remember all of the subtleties of each cheese. It’s impossible to choose a favorite, but I do have a penchant for pecorino & truffles, so the two together stanno come il cacio sui maccheroni (go together like cheese and maccheroni – the Italian version of “a match made in heaven”). I also brought home some white truffle honey (pictured above) that was just divine paired with cheese. I love that dolce – salato combination!
After all of that glorious cheese, a stroll under Turin’s elegant porticos and along the peaceful Po River was definitely in order!
Reserve Your Own Tasting Experience
If you’re in Torino if you’d like to arrange a cheese tasting, contact Chiara at Latteria Bera to make a reservation. You may also choose to taste salumi (cured meats) or sweets. You absolutely must try the freshly made whipped cream and a hand made gianduiotti, and especially the one in the blue wrapper if you love rich, dark chocolate (thanks for the recommendation, Lucia!).
Be sure to follow @latteriabera on Instagram as well to learn all about the local Piedmontese specialties in the shop! Chiara writes in English & Italian (which is so helpful for an Italian learner and passionate foodie like me).
More Culinary Experiences in Turin
I’d like to give a big shoutout and thank you to Lucia Hannau, a Turin native passionate about her city and its cuisine, for introducing me to Latteria Bera in the first place. Without her recommendation, I might not have discovered Latteria Bera and had this wonderful cheese tasting experience!
You can find a wealth of knowledge about Turin and Piedmontese food and wine (including recipes!) on Lucia’s website, Turinepi.com.
If you would like to experience all of Turin’s culinary delights in person, you can join Lucia for a cooking class or a food tour of the city and discover the history behind the famous Torinese gianduiotti (traditional chocolates made with hazelnut paste and shaped like one of those military caps that looks like an upside-down canoe), Bicerin (a decadent traditional drink with coffee, chocolate & cream) and more. Lucia even offers private yoga and mindfulness classes to nourish your mind and body after all of that delicious food!
Turin Epicurean Capital
Lucia also hosts Turin Epicurean Capital, “a bilingual (English-Italian) food lit event organized to share with the international public the Turin and Piedmont culinary traditions and way of life” that takes place annually in June. To find out more, you can read about my experience at the 2018 Turin Epicurean Capital and check the 2019 Turin Epicurean Capital program for updates.
- What are some of your favorite culinary travel experiences?
- Have you been to Torino yet? What did you enjoy most?