This is a guest post by Amanda Courtney (for more info about Amanda, check out the end of this post. She has a great blog and wine/food tour business!) Also, check out MY POST that was featured on Amanda’s Wine Adventures Blog: “Where to Eat and Drink in Barolo”.
Many of my wine producing friends from the south of Italy whom have good taste in food and wine etc. many times ask me “Amanda, when you come to visit me in Campania could you please bring to me some of those amazing Piemontese grissini?” I reply with certainty “YES” because for me it is much lighter to carry grissini than cases of wine! hehe. But why is it where the bread and pizza is so good they do not make a great grissini? Well, as it turns out it was Torino the birth place of the grissini, coming from the Fornaio Torinese Antonio Brunero in 1679 was the inventor of this crunchy little treat. Keep attention because they are very addictive. From there started the experimentation to use water (the original), Extra Virgin Olive Oil EVOO (which came from trade with Liguria), or lard.
So let’s talk about the differences in the grissini, shall we?
What our mission is going to be on the grissini taste test from Torino the most antique recipe for these hand pulled treats (stirati a mano). From the 3 typical grissini made with lard, Extra Virgin Olive Oil EVOO (my favorite), or water (the classic). Although when you have the grissini made from lard they tend to be a bit heaver, while with the water and EVOO you will find the grissini to be lighter and more crunchy. Very important factor! While searching through Torino for the unforgettable Grissini I noticed that there was one place in particular, with a lot of history to this Panifico called Ordine Domenica, where they were the most traditional grissini makers that I had visited. They were making very thin, hand pulled grissini, made from flour, water, and a touch of yeast, thats it. I met with the mother and her daughter who were both very enthusiastic about their products. They even showed a picture of the queen of Savoy enjoying a box of their grissini. Their grissini were clean, and had a wonderful crunch that I found most enjoyable.
Panificio Ordine Domenica: Via San Massimo 49 – Torino open from 8-13 then again from 16.15 to 19.00. They are closed on Sunday. I highly recommend this cute little shop with its wooden decor to go and taste their hand pulled grissini and also they made a savory version of the Bugie, which is basically a fried sweetened dough typically seen during the month of February as it is a Carnevale treat.
Panificio Chicco di Grano: Corso Moncalieri 254 – Torino closed on Sunday and opens everyday at 6.30 am. Closing times change every day so I recommend having a look. The grissini here was good and they had many different ones to choose from. They had the traditional hand stretched ones with water, EVOO, or lard. Plus many flavored ones like Rosemary, fennel, etc.
Panificio Perino Vesco: Via Cavour 10 – Torino open everyday except Sunday from 7.30 – 19.30. This place to visit was the most impressive and I had some trouble keeping it to only grissini for the taste test. They had the most wonderful looking breads with some interesting flavors like pumpkin, and also the focaccia was calling my name there too! The grissini coming from Perino Vesco was the favorite from both my husband and I and would recommend if you are in town to stop by for a taste.
Rubatà (rue-bah-tah). In order to be called Rubatà they must maintain a certain length of 40-80 cm, and must display that they have been pulled by hand, with these little knobs on the ends of the grissino, basically as evidence that they have fallen off the sides of the table where they are being stretched. Rubatà is coming from a wonderful and very historical city called Chieri, and yes you will find examples of the Ribatà grissini througout Torino, but they do not make it in the traditional way.
Want to make these grissini at home?
Here is Gianni’s hand pulled grissini recipe:
Servings: Makes about 20 grissini
1 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (beer yeast)
1/2 tablespoon barley malt or sugar
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons highest quality EVOO (optional)
3 3/4 all purpose flour or if you can find Buratto from Mulino Marino even better
pinch of salt
semolina flour for dusting. If you can find the larger grain it gives is a nice look
Combine the yeast, barley malt, and warm water set aside for about 10 minutes.
While the yeast mixture is resting, place the flour, EVOO, salt in a mixing bowl, then add the yeast mixture. Mix together until the ingredients are well incorporated and smooth, soft, and elastic.
Take and divide the dough into 20 small pieces on a floured surface (semolina) roll them out one by one. Stretching every once in a while, rotating with rolling on the counter. To make the most traditional grissini you would like for them to be at least 40 cm long and nice and thin. If this is to thin you can always stretch them to a length you prefer.
Place them into a baking sheet and bake and leave them to rise for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Heat oven at 450°F and bake for 11-15 minutes until golden.
Cool on a baking rack for about 20 minutes before enjoying them. One this that is truly wonderful is take a piece of prosciutto or lardo and wrap the grissini while still warm, and enjoy the couch with the salty goodness of the cured meat.
I am Amanda Courtney, an American who came to Italy to get my hands dirty working a crush, and just so happened to meet my Italian crush and from that decided to make Italy my new home. Having experience both as a sommelier and working in a winery for several years I have come across a new adventure with giving wine tours to people wanting to dive into the Piemonte wines. Today I have an educational blog called Amanda’s Wine Adventures and also offer a service to take people around this area to learn and understand more about this wonderfully complex wine region. www.amandaswineadventures.com