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A Royal Coffee Break at Caffè Platti (video)

A Royal Coffee Break at Caffè Platti (video)

Georges Rouzeau - 2011-11-08

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Italian unification food writer Barbara Ronchi Della Roca decided to recreate the "Merenda Reale" - the gourmet coffee break of the royal court of Savoy.

We met Barbara Ronchi Della Roca under the gilding and the stucco of Caffè Platti, one of the most beautiful historic cafés in Turin, at the corner of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and Corso Re Umberto. The editor Luigi Einaudi, the businessman Luigi Lavazza and Senator Giovanni Agnelli were frequent attendees. These days you’re likely to see the painter and filmmaker Ugo Nespolo there or the TV presenter Piero Chiambretti.

To celebrate 150 years of Italian Unity, Barbara Ronchi Della Roca, a journalist and expert on the history of etiquette, is putting the Merenda Reale, the royal afternoon snack invented by the court of Savoy back on the culinary map. This mini gourmet ceremony allowed ladies of the nobility to revel (between masses) in hot chocolate, bicerin (a delicious Turin beverage that typically consists of coffee, hot chocolate and milk) and biscuits of a secret Turinese recipe.

The famous Savoy biscuits (which we tend to call ladyfinger or boudoir biscuits) were said to have been invented by the cook to Amadeus VI of Savoy in 1348.
The first cocoa beans were reported in Piedmont in 1559 by Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy, general of the Spanish army and in 1555, Nostradamus had published a treatise on the Turin chocolate. In the early years of 17th century, Marie-Jeanne Baptiste of Savoy granted a patent for the public sale of cups of hot chocolate, which helped in popularising the drink.
Following the examples of Venice and Florence, Turin became a chocolate capital thanks to its talented confectioners and to Caffarel, the first manufacturer to produce gianduiotto, a delectable blend of cocoa, sugar, vanilla and Piedmont hazelnuts.
As for the Merenda Reale, this is an intelligent operation in tourism and gastronomy that’s modern and yet rooted in tradition. It’s an afternoon snack that brings together the history and talent of contemporary artisans. Barbara Ronchi Della Rocca has employed all of her intelligence in dusting off and uncovering forgotten recipes and bringing them to the cafés that are participating in this promotion.
Official Site for the Turin Tourist Office
Italian Tourist Office
Official Site for the city of Turin
Caffè Platti
Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 72
10121 Torino, Italie
011 4407490
Where to Stay
Best Western Hotel Piemontese
Via Berthollet, 21

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