The 10th edition of the Salone del Gusto is taking place this week in sunny Torino, a celebration of food that is ‘Good, clean and fair’ for consumer, producers and the planet alike. It brings together thousands of exhibitors and delegates, public and press to enjoy some of the best food from small-scale producers around the world.
Take your pick from dried reindeer from Lapland or Filipino pancit, Brazilian beef or a tipple from the Fukushima sake brewery. Understandably, Italian food is front and center with a vast hall divided into regions highlighting the extraordinary quality and quantity of local produce. The choice is frankly overwhelming, in the best possible sense, but I bravely ventured forth to try some of the thousands of specialties. Here’s my rundown of the top five – they’re not in any particular order, only because they’re all sensational.
5. Swedish tasting platter – Goat cheese, dried ham, spruce syrup, crisp bread and strawberry cordial. A breath of Scandinavian fresh air from Jamtland – an area proud to boast hundreds of small-scale producers. Clean and light but with deep and compelling flavours.
4. Cannoli – The punchline to a thousand Godfather quotes:
These are ridiculously good and the real deal from Sicily. Their stand was my hands-down favorite in the Italian hall.
3. Peppers from Piedmont – An amazing technicolor riot beckoned me over to a stand selling nothing but local Piedmontese peppers, some in oil and others picked straight form the plant. Maybe ten years of eating peppers in Hong Kong that taste like the inside of a fridge had desensitized me, but these were a revelation.
2. Jamon de Huelva Eiriz – The family making this stunning jamon have been running their small-scale business in Andalusia for 200 years. It’s fair to say they know their hams. The trick is to smell it and then leave it for 5 seconds on the tongue to melt. Those seconds feel like hours. Available at CitySuper for readers in Hong Kong, they also run tours and tastings at their property. http://www.jamoneseiriz.com/web/index.php?lang=en&pagina=index
1. Bombetta – They advertise themselves as an explosion of taste, “esplosione di sapori” with good reason. It’s a specialty from Apulia, pork stuffed with cheese, skewered and cooked on a charcoal and wood-fired grill before being stuffed into local bread. Perfetto. There’s no photo of the finished article because I ate it so quickly.