From my first bite of Baratti e Milano’s dark chocolate, I became a woman on a mission to hunt out their cafe during a visit to Torino. I had been told by some local friends that there were much better chocolate shops in Torino but since I was the tourist, they deferred to my preference. There, under the colonnaded passageway of Piazza Castello, so characteristic of this northern Italian city, the cafe called to me. It was like my Victorian, antique fantasy of Bloomsbury, meets the world of chocolate in my favorite country, Italy……and all this delight before entering this magical place.
Stepping through the gilded entry into the pink granite foyer area, you travel back to the day this patisserie opened its doors in 1911. Little has changed in the last 100 years. You enter the genteel era when men were gentlemen and ladies were simultaneously feisty and demur. The drone of modern day teenagers is left at the Piazza’s door.
Having been addicted to Baratti e Milano chocolate now for several years, I was certain a dish of gelato in this pleasure-dome would send me to heaven. I knew this because of the linen tablecloths and napkins and waiters in waistcoats who were there to serve unobtrusively. In one corner sits and older woman with her badante, carefully nibbling at her ice cream, not caring that it drips down her chin, she is living in the moment. At a table by the window sit three businessmen, drinking espresso and discussing the next big deal, how delightful. I sit with my friend expecting perfection and being rewarded with paradise.
I focus in on the Coppa Giandujotto Baratti. All I can say is Mamma Mia. The giandujotto ice cream (the lightest taste of hazelnut) is served in a stem glass with warm giandujotto sauce but the best part is the tiny silver pitcher of extra hot giandujotto which they bring with it. Oh dear god, it’s like a liquid orgasm. Seriously, you have never tasted anything like this in your life! It’s been awhile now but I can still savor the warm, sweet sauce as it slid down my throat and into a rich travel fantasy. Truly la dolce vita!