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Leading to a TV debut
If there is anything better than sitting in an Italian piazza under a blue sky with the sun on your face then I have yet to find it, well actually I think I have .
Sitting in an Italian piazza under a blue sky with the sun on your face , eating free chocolate.
You may be forgiven for thinking I have already posted a blog on this, cos I did, but I felt I couldn't really do justice to a ten day chocolate festival in one day sooooo I went back again, it's free you know.
Today the piazza is a lot less crowded than it was on Sunday and I get to have a proper look round .
There are dozens of stands and a ‘laborotorio di cioccolato’ where you can see the process of it coming into being. I head for stuff that was made earlier. I start simple on a stall where little pieces of chocolate with nuts has been cut up temptingly for me to try ‘permesso?’ I ask fingers poised inches from the plate ‘prego’ she replies. I get the green light. The hazlenuts are described as ‘famous piedmont hazlenuts’ I don't know what they did to be but they taste good. I buy a little bag of these to take home .
The next stop is for a lovely creamy looking chocolate that is formed into a shape very typical in Torino and etched lovingly on my memory from my choco pass tour. It's like a kind of round ended toblerone shape. The flavour is called Gianduja. I am told, if I understood correctly , that it's not praline but has cream of nuts and cream of cacoa in it . It is very good . I try one on a stick , about the size of a tablespoon dipped in a few nuts and little white chocolate. This is chocolate I want in my life, it is luxurious cream nutty chocolatey yumminess .
I stop to look at a stall selling chocolate kebab. A two foot long kebab shaped chunk of chocolate layered , drark , milk and white is turning round on a spit. I watchthe vendor slice some off on to a slice of sponge , she squirts cream all over it and hands it to the waiting teenage boy who will no doubt eat it and then be hungry again five minutes later.
I move from solid chocolate onto liquid. Bicerin is a coffee, chocolate and cream drink served in the cafes here and if you are looking for a little "fix me up" to help your Saturday morning shopping trip go with a bang , this is your boy. You can buy the alcoholic base for this drink and just drink it straight. I sample a couple of different sorts. They are very alcoholic, well especially at 11 am and I can imagine it going down very well after a good meal or a night out shared with some of my girlfriends. Don't get your hopes up though my amigos as due to my cheapskate travel arrangements I only have carry on baggage and the tyranny of a limit on liquids still has it's grip. So in order to make the most of it I move on to try another free sample at the next stall instead .
Round the corner I spy a familiar green friend at the next place. Absinthe and I have a turbulent relationship, can't live with and can't live without it. Last September when I was in Barcelona I had to wrestle with the temptation of going to the Absinthe bar but I did not trust myself alone in the big city with no one but the green fairy for company so I resisted it. I ask at this stall if they are selling absinthe. She says not but they have some sweets that are the flavour of absinthe. It is a nice idea but not the real thing and a bit of a let down. She obviously susses me as a bit of a wrong un, must have been the smell of strong liquour on my breath before lunchtime. She looks cautiously around her and then with the slickness of a wartime spiv pulls from under the counter a dark coloured package. This , she says is chocolate with real absinthe inside it in liquid form. Oh my ... all my dreams have come true, I can't help it, my eyes go wide and round with delight, I feel a maniacal chuckle rise up in my throat that would do any pantomime witch proud. Absinthe and chocolate, sounds to me like taking the road to hell with a smile on your face and absolutely no regrets about never being able to come back. I blow my meagre budget and buy several packs .
The sun glints on some gold foil packages that are an interesting shape and I just have to pick one up and fondle it a bit. Those of us born in the not so enlightened 60s will remember the joy at xmas of finding a "smoking set" in your stocking. Unfortunately due to something about cancer, death and setting children a good example you can no longer buy these in the UK . Here in continental Europe such sensibility holds no truck and you can suck on a whopping big chocolate cigar until your teeth fall out.
I feel that I have not quite finished with the whole liquid chocolate, alcohol combo and shell out a euro for a little cup made from dark chocolate filled with yet more chocolate liquer.
I am just beginning to feel that I really have over reached my chocolate fetish limit and gone past it by a significant margin , when the world takes on a rose hue. I see in front of me a sight that makes me wonder if a law has been passed that made me Princess of all the world and all my choclate fantasies come true . A huge pile of crunchy white meringues the size of doughnuts is piled up next to a stainless steel bucket that has steam coming off the top if it. A gorgeous chocolatey smell emanates into the air and wafts visibly in my direction like the Mother ship calling me home. I can hardly unzip my purse as my fingers are trembling from excitement and the affect of too much sugar . I try not to salivate too obviously as the assistant snaps on plastic gloves before picking up a meringue. As she held it poised above the basin I swear a white dove flew overhead and I heard angel song in the air from afar as she dunked it in the molten chocolate. She puts it on a napkin that is imediately soaked in chocolate and hands it to me . I ask her how I'm supposed to eat it and she just shrugs her shoulders with a slight smile , as if to say "something tells me lady , you will manage".
Grabbing all the napkins I can carry I finally step back a little from the chocolate and sit on a bench in what I think is a quiet spot as I am a firm believer that some things should be done in private. I contort myself into a sitting position that leaves as much as my body and clothes as far away from my mouth as I can ,except for my left hand and go in for the kill . The second after I have filled my mouth to the brim with a concotion of meringue and chocolate that clamps my teeth impossibly stuck together and leaves a thick slick of chocolate on my top lip that would have the judging panel of a Groucho Marx lookalike competition handing me the winning trophy to rapurous applause . . . out jumps a man from behind a column in a sharp suit wearing a little too much foundation and eyeliner for my taste and thrusts a microphone at me. Behind him I see another guy balancing a on his shoulder pointing it in my direction. Being filmed with chocolate smeared from eyebrow to chin is not how I would have wished to make my debut on Italian National television, but chocolate found a way.
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