European way of life

A Turinese delicacy : the bicerìn

« Amongst the good things I experienced in Turin, I will never forget the bicerin, an excellent drink made with coffee, milk and chocolate, which is served in all cafes. »

It’s the tasting memories that the famous French writer Alexandre Dumas kept after his Turinese stay in August 1852… Memories of the bicerìn, a small, hot beverage, very fashionable in the nineteenth century and still popular today in the capital of Piedmont.

Dumas’ contemporaries could at the time enjoy this sweet drink for nothing. Just a few euros nowadays for that glassful of nostalgia.

The bicerìn is a perfect blend of coffeechocolate and milk frothed to a microfoam. But it’s not that simple because all these ingredients are lavered instead of mixed together. 

Three versions of the bicerìn make all the foodies see eye to eye :

  • The complete one, « ‘n pò d’tutt » (« a little of everything ») : coffee, chocolate, milk foam.
  • The « pur e fior » one (« pure and flower ») : coffee and milk foam (and it’s not a latte or a cappuccino),
  • The « pur e barba » one (« pure and beard ») : coffee and chocolate.

The bicerìn gets its name from the little stemmed glass which is used to serve it and gives a little precious side to it.

The legend says that the bicerìn became very famous thanks to the Café AlfieriPiazza Solferino, run by an ex-shoe shine boy, Giuseppe Gentile. The bicerìn made Giuseppe so rich that he decided to give half a million of gold lira to the Poveri Vecchi’s rest home.

An other story tells us that the Bicérìn Café, Piazza della Consolata, was enjoyed by the parishioners on a empty stomach after mass. Indeed, the chocolate wasn’t prohibited during Lent…

The bicerìn is like Turin : heartwarming, sometimes cheeky, but always sophisticated.

  Where to taste a good bicerìn ?

Caramelle di Torino (Baratti & Milano).jpg

Photo by Barbara De Vito, Turin, Italie (CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons).

At Baratti e Milanoa Turinese institution founded in 1858 (too late for Alexandre Dumas…) and of which I have good memories.

Baratti e Milano was the official supplier of the royal court and this beautiful establishment has a particular outdated charm. Travelers mix with regular customers and your traditional bicerìn will be served with local pastries : crociònbiciolànparisiènbrioss, etc.

This historic café has a splendid location in the Galleria Subalpina, a shopping gallery built in 1873 and covered with a beautiful glass roof.

Baratti e Milano sells its own products : buy their excellent cocoa powder and try to make your own bicerìn. But its a secret recipe…

Baratti e Milano

  Piazza Castello, 29, 10123 Torino, Italie

  +39 011 440 7138

Turinese’s chocolate is not to be trifled with. 

« Turin’s chocolate is one of the best in Italy and even in Europe… »

                                  Antoine Valéry, L’indicateur italien, in Le Normand, 1831 – 1833.

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