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Eataly - Slow Food Superstore (page 2 of 2)

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My day at Eataly, the biggest slow food grocery store in the world, just outside Torino, Italy.
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Nowadays proper Parmesan can be found in many places outside Italy, but getting a large piece of Parmigiano Reggiano from actual reggiana cows and seasoned 24-30 month, well that is quite a catch. Many cows are raised in Emilia-Romagna to make Parmesan, but the traditional red cows of the Razza Reggiana persuasion was a nearly extinct breed in the 1950s, with only about 1000 cows left. The just have comparatively drier teats than the cows imported from Switzerland used my most producers. But their milk imparts the Parmesan with an incomparable taste. So naturally, a Associazione Nazionale Allevatori Bovini di Razza Reggiana was created to foster the use of these cows and promote the unique dairy products derived from their milk. A slow food presidio before Carlo Petrini, if you will. This one costs €30 a kilo (US$19 a pound at the time of writing).

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I bought this Formaggio fiore sardo DOP, as a gift for my father who loves old cheese. Raw sheep milk from Sardinian sheeps and curdled using rennet from Sardinian lambs. 16€ a kilogram (US$20 a pound at the time of writing).

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Lonza di fico, a delicious dried fig, walnut and anis sausage wrapped in fig leaves. Cut a slice and eat with cheese. Absolutely stunning.

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Although I bought this fist-sized ball of dried figs from Dolce Calabria at the Fiera del Gusto, you might find it at Eataly too. The ball looks beautifl with the wrinkled green leaves ...

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... and when you slice it open, it reveals a treasure of moist dried figs. No sugar, no additives, no nothing. Just the most amazing juicy dried figs. They are dried and then slowly baked in an oven which gives an intense caramel flavour. Eating this is a bit surprising at first if you are used to complex processed foods. The taste is simple but complex. And the more you eat, the more you feel the intensity of the product's character, the majestic sun that grew these fruits until they were lush and plump and dark, and the same sun that made them shrivel back.

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You may recall that I met this girl at the Slow Food Fair, who was selling the most intriguing sausages

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Well, these Salam Dous from Calbria turn out to be made in chocolate and filled with hazelnuts. Really astonishing taste and effect. I need more. Not sure if they sell it at Eataly but if they don't they should.

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Here is where those shoppers who had hoped to escape with their wallet untouched give up their last hope. Slow food is not cheap.

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As you walk out, you can't miss the busy booth with a row of wood-fired oven dispensing a smell of Liguria all around. They make Farinata, an ancient and very popular dish from Liguria, on the Meditterranean coast. Follow me as I draw closer.

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In essence, Farinata is an express chickpea polenta baked in a white-hot wood-fired oven. Chickpeas are ground into a flour, mixed with salt, milk and water. A generous amount of olive oil is poured into a huge circular baking pan and the chickpea mixture is poured into it with a little rosemary sprinkled on top.

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The tray is pushed into the super hot wood-fire oven and baked for about 15 minutes. These guys work around the clock and I had another farinata at night. They just can't make enough.

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As soon as the farinata turns brown and crispy on top, it is sliced into 8 portions and served. These guys were highly organized - you pay 3 euros (5 dollars) and get a ticket with a number. The lady slices and calls each number in turn and serves a hot portion to the drooling clients.

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Hot, crispy, incredibly rich and juicy inside and yet the slowest of snacks. If you used to be a trader on Wall Street, here is a nice business idea for you. Just buy, steal or borrow a couple portable wood ovens, a few trays, some wood and you're in business. Mix chickpea flour with milk, water and salt, generously coat the baking pans with olive oil and bake until crispy on top. Charge three bucks a portion and you'll never bake quite enough - they indeed sell like hot cakes!

Eataly
www.eataly.it
Off the Lingotto
7 days a week, 10AM to 10:30PM
+39 011 195 06801
Good Italian spoken
They also have stores in Milano, Bologna and Tokyo. A proof, if any was needed, of the discerning taste of Japanese shoppers.

Thanks to Marco Lama for showing me the way towards Eataly!

Published 06/11/2008
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54 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by Jordan
  • on: 06/11/2008
Incredible. If there was such a place near me I would be there every week.
  • FX's answer→ Jordan, I spent three days in Torino and visited the store twice every day!

  • #3
  • Comment by Bill Pike
  • on: 06/11/2008
Please tell me more about the wood fired ovens.  We have been thinking of building a wood-fired oven but they are way more than we need.  Those you showed look just like our size so we are wondering where we could find plans to build one ourselves at our home in Alaska  We had hoped to go the slow-food expo in Turin while we were in Italy but our schedule did not allow it.  We are at home in the USA now.
Thank you,
Bill Pike
  • FX's answer→ Bill, there are a couple fine books about building your own wood fired oven, you can buy them from Amazon, they are in Seattle so it'll be just a short hop into Alaska and you'll know more about it than I do. I have the books but not the space!

Amazing.  Will have to make a trip to Torino.

I have heard of farinata before - sounds a lot like socca which is sold at a street market near where I live in Paris.  It seems to be more or less the same thing but cooked in a skillet (again with plenty of oil, for a soft cooked centre and crispy edges!).  Due to the lack of eggs it doesn't hold together like a typical crêpe so the guy just tears it all up with his grimy fingers and serves it in much the same style as your farinata with salt and pepper sprinkled on top.  Delicious!
  • FX's answer→ Penny Lane, where in Paris is this street market?

  • #7
  • Comment by Sarah
  • on: 06/11/2008
If there was a place like that by me, I'd be a peasant! I'd have my paychecks sent straight there!!!
  • FX's answer→ Sarah, indeed you could spend your entire wages in such a place easily. And even if you win the lottery, with the white truffles you can eat it all in a day!

  • #9
  • Comment by Tony Fultz
  • on: 06/11/2008
This was very interesting what a beautiful place
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Tony!

Oh my, another must-visit location in the Alps. All this longing is going to do wonders to motivate me to get my driver's license and a car, so I can pop over the mountains and visit this place :). Speaking of reggiano, I heard that some producers are using the Swedish fjällko (mountain cow) race, since they yield a fatter milk (but less of it). Do you know anything about that?
  • FX's answer→ Daniel I know there are many races of cows used to make Parmigiano Reggiano, and would not be too surprised to see a Swedish cow. For travelling you could also use the train, there is a huge train station right next to the store. And take a really big trunk with some little wheels...

  • #13
  • Comment by Catherine
  • on: 06/11/2008
Most of the time I count myself fortunate to live in the Bay Area since it often feels like a cultural/culinary crossroads. Sometimes when I read these articles of yours, I feel like I ain't seen nothin' yet, though! I wish we had something like that around here.
  • FX's answer→ Catherine, at least you can rejoice that your weather is infinitely better than the crap bestowed by the Gods on the poor souls living in the Po plain where the store lies. They really need that glorious food to cheer them up!

OMG!  I want to move into this store and hide away forever!
  • FX's answer→ Dana, indeed you could be a mouse in one of the cheeses and spend many happy years eating away the whole store!

  • #17
  • Comment by Rosa
  • on: 06/11/2008
Wow, what a great place! All that food makes me terribly hungry!

Cheers,

Rosa
  • FX's answer→ It is a really fine place and open 7 days a week to boot!

  • #19
  • Comment by don siranni
  • on: 06/11/2008
Fx,this place would drive me crazy,the "super-sod",(soppresseta),looked wonderful-did you try it there?  
  • FX's answer→ Don, I actually brought it back, this picture (lead) was shot in my kitchen. It is much leaner than a sausage. You can find something similar in many Italian stores under the name Coppa.

  • #21
  • Comment by Jay
  • on: 06/11/2008
That Lonza di fico looks and sounds so amazing, as does the ball of dried figs. I'm such a fig fiend.

I'd probably have to be dragged kicking and screaming from this place. That probably applies to the salumi bar alone, actually.

I definitely need to get myself to Italy ASAP!
  • FX's answer→ Jay, if you have a good South-facing wall you can grow figs in many parts of the world. We certainly do here in Switzerland. I'd love to make myself these fig sausages and balls. The salumi bar is cool but it's much more fun to buy some and do it at home. The staff at the bars is mostly made of unmotivated liberal students who seem to have little understanding for the great joys they betstow on the (relatively) well-to-do patrons! I think they should hire fatter waiters and pay them more, that would work better. How can you trust food brought to the table by bone-thin student?

  • #23
  • Comment by Marie
  • on: 06/11/2008
I would spend all day there, walking around and filling up my cart! What a place!! We need this in the states! Specifically, Chicago!! (Hint hint!!)
  • FX's answer→ Indeed you can spend the day in that store, and not really regret it. They even have a little but great food bookstore and sell crockery and cooking utensils!

  • #25
  • Comment by Ouroboros
  • on: 06/11/2008
Excellent article as always, FX.  The fig sausage is indeed an interesting concoction...the flavor must be quite intense.

On an unrelated note, when you take pictures of yourself you're always dressed in an open-collared pink shirt.  Is that just by chance, or is it intentional?

O
  • FX's answer→ Well, I appear in pictures as I am usually dressed. Do you mean I should wear a tie or some Cordon Bleu ribbon around the neck?

  • #27
  • Comment by Alys
  • on: 06/11/2008
Very delicious post. Thanks for sharing your visit.
Very attractive prices on the cheeses but I am not sure about your conversion factors for euros.
Today it is 1 Euro(s) = 1.27894 US Dollar(s) so 16 euros would be closer to $20.50 ...

  • FX's answer→ Indeed, that was a typo, 20$ is the correct figure. I must have thought of the dollar of yore.

  • #29
  • Comment by Rubiati Winter
  • on: 07/11/2008
Hi FX,

I live in Singapore.
You have any information where can I get Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in here.
There are couples of better supermarket in the city, like Market Place and gourmet grocery store however, they charge about US$15.00-US$20.00 for a block of 250 gram.
On the other hand, can I mail order these cheese from Singapore.

Cheers,

Rubi

  • FX's answer→ Rubi, I am sorry not to be able to help, never visited your city!

  • #31
  • Comment by Lord Best
  • on: 07/11/2008
Eataly would bankrupt me.
  • FX's answer→ You can still rob the store!

  • #33
  • Comment by wasansh
  • on: 08/11/2008
I live in seoul, korea.
Fxcuisine.com is always good and leanr more.
Thank you.
Eataly...fun!!
I would like to see it someday.
  • FX's answer→ Wasansh, thanks and let me know if you have any tips about intriguing food in Seoul, I would be very interested!

  • #35
  • Comment by Randall
  • on: 09/11/2008
fx, your desription of those glorious dried figs wrapped in leaves betrays your secret:  you're a poet!  Great writing, sir!
  • FX's answer→ Thank Randall! It is indeed hard to find the words to put on the emotion I feel when looking at such beautiful and inspiring products, especially in English!

Hi FX,

In response to your question, the street market where the socca is served is the Marché des Enfants Rouges on rue de Bretagne in the marais.  It's a small market but this socca seller is quite well-known, not just for his socca but also excellent traditional buckwheat galettes and the somewhat less traditional crispy toasted baguette sandwiches with various meats and melted cheese (have not tried these myself as I am vegetarian), not to mention his marked resemblance to Popeye.  I believe the market is open every day of the week except Monday, and until quite late, so if you are ever in Paris and wandering around the marais, stop by!
  • FX's answer→ Penny Lane I'll definitely visit this market next time I'm in town!

Hi FX, I enjoyed your article, it brought back the memories of a few very productive years spent in Ivrea, not far from Torino but almost in Val d'Aosta. Anyway, regarding the salumi (I am from Parma, your article has really touched me in those sensitive places that all Parmesans have in their soul - places made mostly of pork fat and butter, of course), I think that if you have not tried it (but I am sure you have) you will find a lot of pleasure in "mocetta", lean but tasty Piemontese goat meat. And I think we already mentioned "culatello", but that is in another league altogether - the truffle of pork meat.
  • FX's answer→ Walter, glad you liked my article! I sure had my fill of culatello but need to investigate the mocetta too - thanks for the tip.

  • #41
  • Comment by Carrie
  • on: 10/11/2008
This place sounds wonderful!  Have you heard of anything like it in the states?
  • FX's answer→ Unfortunately no, but perhaps there would have been a market for this in New York before the financial crisis. Those slow food products are not cheap in Eataly, let alone as imported food in the US!

  • #43
  • Comment by alan
  • on: 11/11/2008
Francois
I should really stop visiting your site so often: I just wind up getting hungry and tempted and dazzled. And you've done it again with this destination. One more to add to a steadily growing list of must-visits (no, I haven't forgotten the pizza place in Naples and the truffle restaurants in Paris). There's a very good chance I'll be in Italy next year (usually, I lecture in Berlin), so please don't add too many more places, I might not get to see them all...
  • FX's answer→ Alan, glad this will help you make successful gastronomic stops in Europe! Definitely higher fare in Torino and Naples than what is sold in most shops in Berlin. Do you lecture on gastronomy?

  • #45
  • Comment by Andrey
  • on: 02/01/2009
Hi FX..

Absolutely marvelous site with powerful, artistically presented articles, stories and pictures. I have stumbled on your site purely by accident. Never have I had much interest in food preparation. You have managed it to present it in such an attractive way and at the same time simple way that I was completely unprepared and unexpectedly started reading your articles, one by one.

Next thing you know I'm getting a pasta machine, spending more time in the kitchen. My wife's eyes are getting bigger and bigger. Another word, you have improved my marriage.

Plus, it seems you have a great personality which always helps with presentations. And it seems you are not doing this for financial gain, but rather for the love of celebrating food and all the intricacies, experience and knowledge that come with it.

I wonder if you can provide a bit more information in regards to a comment you made about Farinata business.
The thought of it has been in my mind. I'm not sure if this is something I would do full time, but I think I would love to try on weekends. What did you mean by saying
"If you used to be a trader on Wall Street, here is a nice business idea for you."?

I would appreciate for any other reference or comment or further ideas in regards to this business idea. Do you think this could be popular with American public? What places would this be most successful?? Densely populated areas, ethnic background??

Really appreciate your thoughtful comments.. And understanding that your background is in finances, I extremely value your opinion.

And yes I was going to comment on your site and my experience with your articles regardless whether I had a business question or not. It just happen so for it all to coincide together.

Happy New Year!!!
  • FX's answer→ Well Andrey it was very nice to hear how my website improved your mariage! I keep getting emails asking me to write article praising the virtue of husband-operated vacuum cleaning but never managed to make it attractive - let's keep to food instead.

    As for the farinata business, you must know more about the US than I do. I imagine this could work in places where you have lots of people with an interest in new things - Manhattan perhaps? If you use some organic olive oil people might accept the inherent fattiness as a plus rather than something to avoid. You'd definitely need to clear the use of wood fire ovens  with the fire department though! The good thing about this is that it is so simple to make you could train people in under a day and they'd be up and running. Good luck!

great post! I think that if you are going to buy some Parmigiano Reggiano the best option is to find some local store that sends via mail the package with parmigiano cheese, you can get it for 14-16 Euros/Kg (my advice is to get it in winter). Ceers!
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Simone!

  • #49
  • Comment by Mami
  • on: 13/02/2009
Great article :)  Loved Eataly & Piedmont for great food and wine!  I'm hoping they will open their London store soon.  Torino is a great city to visit and a great base for a short trip to Alba, Asti, Barbresco and Bra... great wine region with equally great food.  Love that area for mixture of French meet Italian-ness... I put on 3kg while holidaying in Piedmont (luckily lost when I returned in London!!)  I think non-touristy cities such as Torino, Bologna, Lyon and Dijon are so much better when it comes to finding good restaurants even by visitors :)
  • FX's answer→ Mami, I'd rather put a stone on in Piedmont than a kilogram in London, considering the average fare in both areas!

  • #51
  • Comment by Marco
  • on: 05/05/2009
The best slow food in Italy can be retrieved by local self organised groups known as GAS (in english Friendness Buy Group) that try to suggest food that is produced 1 km far away from the end user.
  • FX's answer→ Thanks for the tip Marco!

  • #53
  • Comment by vagabond
  • on: 29/10/2009
Very good article and quite alluring images... ;) But for example does it offer italian traditional ham like the gorgeous renieri.net one? Do it receive slow food from all the ITalian regions or only from national distributor?
  • FX's answer→ I am certain they receive their products from tons of local suppliers as no other store carries such an extensive range!


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