In one day, I spent ten hours at a supermarket in Turin, Italy. I wanted to spend 10 more. If you have already been to Eataly, you will understand. If you haven't, GO! A whole day is barely enough to enjoy the high-quality, artisanal, and affordably-priced food of Italy under one 27,000 square-foot roof. It is an Italian food lovers' paradise!
Besides all the food to buy or eat there, they have a myriad of food and wine classes. Eataly's aim is to supply "everyone" with high-quality, fresh and locally produced food at reasonable prices. The employees are inviting, friendly and eager to help you buy, eat and learn about Italy's foods.
Oh, the delicacies you can buy in the market:
I was elated and confused with the variety of foods available. To ease some of the confusion, the store is organized into sections: cured meats, cheese, seasonal fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, fresh pastas, a baked goods section, the cellar with wine and beer, and the "sundries" area. Sundries is such a bland word to describe this section. It's filled with specialty food from the region and all of Italy: over five aisles of local sweets including gianduja (the chocolate of Turin), the best olive oils from each region in Italy, a fresh milk dispenser filled with raw milk from local farms, premium blends of coffee beans, just to name a few.
The earthy smells of the cheese aisle will lead you there. There are over 200 cheeses from which to choose.
The fresh pasta section has over 50 different shapes of pasta. Shapes popular in Piedmont are agnolotti (a big half-mooned ravioli) or plin (which means "pinched" in the local dialect to describe how the pasta's shaped).
The bread is hands-down the best in Italy. It's hard crust and deep-pocketed interiors rival any French baguette. They make focaccia in the style of the neighboring Ligurian region and Neopolitan pizza in their wood-burning oven.
The cellar includes 48,000 wines, a beer bar, and an area where you can bring an empty bottle and fill it with wine from a huge glass jug. Bootlegging gone commercial.
The cellar goes from bootlegging to Barolo, the best wine of the region. I was breathless at the selection of Barolo wines. The sales clerk gave me a tour of the cellar, then walked me to the glass-enclosed rare wine section and left me ALONE with Barolo wines from as early as 1967. I was afraid to move or breathe fearing I would disrupt the temperature of the room and harm these precious bottles. Ok, so not all the products are reasonably priced, that 1967 Barolo was 430 euros.
Five aisles of sweets and one devoted to chocolate. I think I spent an hour in that section alone.
Have a seat and at Eataly:
There are 7 eateries, one finer-dining restaurant (Guido per Italy), a coffee bar, a pastry store, and a gelateria where they make gelato from farm-fresh raw milk.
For lunch, we snacked in the cellar and sampled some of the Barolo. The sales clerk offered us as a gift sampling of prosciutto. It wasn't just any old Prosciutto di Parma, it was culatello di zibello, the best of the Parma prosciutto. The most prized part of the ham is put in a pigs bladder and left to cure in the valley of the Po river. This speciality is rarely exported outside of Italy. It's sweet, creamy and intense, and she gave us a plate, free of charge, like we were honored guests in her home.
We were there on a Friday, and by 8:00pm, all the eateries were packed with locals vying for tables as soon as they were vacated. The pizza or a plate of pasta was less than 15 euros each. For dessert, you can choose from gelato, chocolates, or pastries, or have a little of each.
Learn about the food and wine of the region:
You can take cooking lessons, dine with celebrity Italian chefs, take wine lessons, have a wine tasting, and take a class on the 60 Piemontese products that are considered best in the world. There is also a book store with thousands of books and magazines on food and wine. They have computers and free wifi. Believe me, wifi in Italy is hard enough to find, so free wifi is miraculous. Now all they need to do is set up a place to sleep, and one may never leave.
Eataly is easily accessible by buses #1, #18 and #35 that depart from Turin's main train station (Porta Nuova). They are open from 10am to 10:30pm and the restaurants are open from Noon-3:00pm and 7:00-10:15pm.
There are also Eataly locations in Bologna, Milan, and two in Tokyo. One is scheduled to open in 2010 in New York (oh, those lucky New Yorkers). As the sign says, "Life is too short to eat and drink badly." At Eataly, you have no alternative but to mangia bene!