First report in from Terra Madre by Slow Food DC member Stanley Feder of Simply Sausage!
When I visit Europe I like to find local sausage makers. After a nearly sleepless flight to Frankfort, I arrived in Turin yesterday around 11am. I registered at my hotel and set out to find Silvano Pistis, a butcher in a covered market on the north side of Turin whom Slow Food Piemonte has praised. I walked about two miles on the south side of Turin before I discovered that I was in the wrong (but architecturally attractive) covered market. Google Maps on my iPhone had led me astray. I finally broke down and asked the merchant who had the store where Silvano’s shop was supposed to be. A long bus ride and a short walk later I found Silvano and his wife at their shop in the covered market on Corso Racconigi.
Silvano specializes in meat from Piemonte cattle, Sambucano lamb, and other heritage breeds. He gets his meat from farmers in nearby regions who will raise their animals naturally and according to his specifications. His meats looked beautiful and smelled delicious. When I told Silvano this he asked if I wanted to taste some. He picked up a large a large piece of top round and cut me a thin slice. “Do you want it with salt and olive oil?.” “Just a little salt,” I said. “And no oil.” I wanted to taste the meat, not the oil. The flavor and texture of the raw meat was wonderful.
Next we talked about his freshly made sausages. Both were unlinked long ropes. When he sold it, he just measured out the length the customer wanted and tore it off, no knife used. Silvano had two kinds. The first was a mixture of veal and pork seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic, with ascorbate added (as a preservative). The other was just veal with salt and pepper, a veal version of the pork butifarra that I make. Again he asked me if I wanted a taste. This time he cut off a small piece of the veal sausage and gave it to me. It was veal tartar with in a casing, and absolutely delicious.
Finally just before I said goodbye, I asked what restaurants used his meats because I wanted to taste more. Silvano recommended Ristorante Monferrato (Via Monferrato, 6). In the evening when I arrived at Ristorante Monferrato it was “completo”, fully booked. They did, however, recommend a restaurant down the street. While I waited for the Ristorante Salsamentario (Monferatto, 14) to open, I killed time with a glass of nebbiolo at the Antica Enoteca nearby. When Salsamentario opened I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of its ingredients came from Slow Food-approved farmers.
Salsamentario, apparently like many other restaurants in Turin, featured “crudo”, raw beef and veal. I started my meal with a plate of crudo.
There was thinly sliced veal (on left), nuggets of beef filet on the right, and a small cylander of filet tartar (to the right of the lemon). These were topped with white truffle, shaved at the table. (And weighed before and after the shaving on a digital scale. You paid for exactly what you got.) The very enthusiastic server advised me not to use any olive oil or lemon. The verdict: Molto molto bene! If raw Piemonte beef is delicious, it’s even better with white truffles! I followed this with a plate of oricchetti with broccoli and sardines. Dessert was a Piemonte specialty, a dense mousse of hazelnuts and chocolate.
So on my first day in Turin I had seen much of Turin outside the old city. I had walked about four miles. I had met some interesting people. And I had eaten very well. Not a bad prelude to Terra Madre and il Salone del Gusto.