Gianduja in Turin
- annana Apr 12, 2012 07:37 PM
I'm going to Piedmont next week and will be spending a couple of days in Turin. I'm interested in seeing what sort of gianduja products I can find, specifically things that resemble nutella but are more artisanal/small-batch. Are there any chocolatiers/markets that sell items like this? I've read that the major chocolate companies of the region include Caffarel, Streglio, Domori, Guido Gobino, Venchi, and Peyrano Pfatisch. Should I keep an eye out for gianduja from these brands?
Thanks so much!
That's true of Domori. Venchi has a cafe/store at their small factory in Castelleto Stura (in addition to a retail shop in Turin, kiosk in the airport, and shelf space in every gourmet market). Caffarel doesn't have a shop in Luserna San Giovanni, but it's still a great place to visit. (That valley was the home of many of the Waldensian chocolate makers that birthed Turin's industry and invented gianduia--Watzenborn, Caffarel, Prochet, Gay, Revel, Talmone, et al.) They do have a retail shop (Re Gianduia) in Turin across the river on Corso Fiume, but it's not really worth visiting, since you can get Caffarel products so easily elsewhere.
Thanks to you three. @minchilli, I'm sure you're right—the streets of Turin are probably slick with gianduja!
It would be helpful to know what some of the better chocolatiers are. Any can't-miss stores? I'm interested in generation-spanning, family-run places and places that are more experimental, if any exist. I'm actually doing research for a potential article (rough life, I know).
Some top picks:
- Guido Castagna. A micro-batch bean-to-bar chocolate maker and chocolatier. His factory is in Giaveno, but he has a shop in Turin. His Crema +55 (a premium gianduia spread with 68% hazelnut content) is extraordinary, as are his gianduiotti (using Chuao cacao).
- Guido Gobino. Some of the most balanced gianduiotti made. Dark and milk versions are excellent. (The shop is a gianduia wonderland. Beyond the obvious gianduiotti, there are gianduia bars, fogli nocciolato (one-kilo slabs of hazelnut bark, in dark, milk, or white chocolate), giandujone with 40% TGL (cut by hand and sold by weight), chocolate-covered whole hazelnuts, ganaches, gianduia spreads, a variety of cremini (including the olive oil, sea salt, and gianduia version that won a well-deserved gold medal at the 2008 Academy of Chocolate awards), and a recent innovation that he calls Hazelshock (an intense gianduia in powder form, intended to be sucked up through a straw).
- Gerla. One of only two chocolatiers in Turin that still make hand-cut gianduiotti (the original method from the 19th century, which allows for higher hazelnut content than molding or extrusion). (Avoid the cheaper, hand-cut gianduiotti they sell and go straight for the hand-cut.)
- A. Giordano. The other option for hand-cut gianduotti. (The Giacomette--named after Gianduia's wife--are also excellent. Hand-formed dollops of gianduia, but with Tonda Gentile delle Langhe hazelnut bits mixed in.)
A lot of chocolate shops in Turin look better than they perform. In many cases, their gianduiotti and spreads are made by a private label manufacturer. You can go to a dozen gorgeous shops and get a dozen molded gianduiotti made by the same manufacturer, with the same ingredients, but differing only in the wrapping. If you read Italian, get a copy of Gigi and Clara Padovani's CioccolaTorino while you're there and use it to help filter through the options.
Ok, gianduja will be found on offer from countless companies in Turin. It's worth knowing how to pick out the winners from the losers.
First the base product: giandujotti.
One company you should go for, in fact on all fronts, is A. Giordano. Get the hand-formed giandujotti, which in addition to good flavour have a unique, slightly sticky texture very different from other gianduje and well worth experiencing. Be careful with these in the heat; they're VERY oily and will ooze badly if it's hot
Ignore comments on the commercial status of Venchi. Yes, it's a fact that they are a large commercial concern. But the fact remains that their gianduja is of a completely different class of excellence than almost everyone else, artisanal or not. This is the reference standard against which all should be measured, and if you can get their dark gianduja in addition to their milk, you'll have tried essentially the ultimate in gianduja achievement.
Guido Gobino is interesting to experiment with an alternative. Personally, I find it a bit too sweet and not as good as the above 2, but it's interesting to compare.
I am not impressed with Guido Castagna. But others, in fact, many other chocolate experts, love it. So perhaps you should be the judge. He has a dark gianduja using Chuao chocolate which is worth trying for the experience.
Domori should be better. Their plain chocolate is world class. But the gianduja is not. Too sweet. I wouldn't get it.
You next ask about spreads. Giordano makes a good one. Here also Guido Castagna has a superb variety "55+". Venchi's Cuor di Cacao used to be the best, but then they suddenly and inexplicably started using olive oil in the recipe, which diminished it from the best to merely good. Guido Gobino's uses butter, which makes for an indescribably smooth texture but also perhaps a bit too much sweetness. Actually perhaps the best these days comes from Slitti, not even in Piemonte but it Toscana. However it seems almost insulting to visit Turin and not get a local product.
Also must-try: cremino - layered gianduja, which comes both flavoured and unflavoured. Venchi's is excellent, Giordano is also superb and has more flavours to choose from.
As a "one-stop-shop" I think you can see that Giordano has the best density and quality. What ever you do, though, don't assume that *any* chocolatier that looks artisanal will be good enough; there are clear winners and also-rans. As has been pointed out, many are simply using product bulk-made by a large third-party producer. So choose carefully.