Elegant, respectable. Behind that austere façade there is an irrepressible vitality, a pulsating creative and sparkling heart that makes it a unique city and different from the rest of Italy. (Wall Street Journal)
Bicerin in Piedmontese means "small glass." It is the name of a typical Turin non-alcoholic beverage, which originates from a drink of the '700, known as "bavareisa." This delicious drink is made up of coffee, chocolate, and cream, and is served in transparent glasses.
The bicerin ritual initially included the three ingredients served separately. But, already in the nineteenth century, they were mixed into a single glass and offered in three variants: pur e fiur (similar to cappuccino), pur e barba (coffee and chocolate), 'n poc' d tut ("a bit of everything"), including all three ingredients. This last recipe was the most successful and ended up prevailing over the others. It remained intact till nowadays and took its name from the small glasses with no handle in which it was usually served (bicerin).
The energetic taste of this drink with its hot chocolate and coffee mix, has won the hearts of Turin's inhabitants. In fact, many VIP personalities, such as Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, Ernest Hemingway, and the writer Alexandre Dumas the Father, were big fans of the Turin's typical beverage.
The drink can be ordered in the most traditional bars and cafes of Turin. Although tradition says that the original recipe is served in a single coffee bar. It is called "Al Bicerin", and jealously guards the recipe, forcing its employees to keep the secret in this regard.
The famous café bar is located in the historic center of Turin, opposite of the Sanctuary of the Consolata. Given the expansion of the drink's popularity, the many awards soon arrived. One for all is the prestigious Gambero Rosso magazine, which in the first edition of the Guide to the Bars, in 2001, appointed the Caffè Al Bicerin as the "Best Bar in Italy."
The ingredients are easy to recognize: hot espresso freshly made, homemade chocolate and cream. Although others use whipped cream, the original recipe includes cream. However, the doses of the recipe vary, and the above coffee house seems to have them right!
Unlike other coffees or hot drinks, bicerin is not served in a cup but in glasses or glass goblets, which allow you to observe the nuances given by the different density and the contrasting color of the ingredients used.
The secret to taste the true bicerin at its best is not to mix it, letting its various components blend together directly on the palate, with their different densities, temperatures, and flavors.
In 2001, Bicerin was recognized as a "traditional Piedmontese drink" with even a publication in the Official Bulletin of the Piedmont region.
In stores and supermarkets, you can find bottles of Bicerin, but obviously this is not the same drink. The Bicerin sold on the shelves is a liqueur made from Gianduia cream, which only remotely comes close to the hot drink served in the typical bars.
Tasting this delight is simply a must while in Turin; especially for the sweet-tooth travelers. After visiting the museums, do not miss this cultural experience!
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