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Friday, June 1, 2012

A Marriage Made in Heaven


Chocolate lover?  Hazelnut nut?  In the 1850’s, before Italy was even a nation, a chocolate-maker in the sophisticated food-loving city of Turin (the center of the powerful House of Savoy) invented the perfect union of these two culinary gems.  He named it Gianduja (john due yuh) after a marionette character who was the popular local folk icon. 

Gianduja was born out of necessity.  It was the era following the Napoleonic Wars and chocolate, a very precious commodity, was rationed.  The district surrounding Turin, callled Piedmont, was known throughout Europe for producing the best hazelnuts.   To circumvent the lack of exotic chocolate, one of the leading candy shops decided to create an intense mèlange of chocolate and hazelnuts…and the rest is history.

Today, Gianduja is a classical European chocolate, made by only the premier chocolate producers.   This fall’s trip to Piedmont for the Truffle Festival will include a visit to Turin’s super-star chocolatier…attendees will visit his artisanal workshop and be able to watch the birthing of Gianduja from the roasting of the cocao beans to the upscale packaging process.  Most importantly, you’ll be able to sample these exquisite morsels.

BTW...thanks to Piedmont, you’ll now find the pairing of chocolate and hazelnuts throughout Italy.  One of my favorite things is gianduja gelato.  Anyone else adore the little Italian chocolates wrapped in foil called Baci? (Italian for "kisses"). They, too, are made from chocolate and hazelnuts and were around long before the Hershey’s kiss.

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