Chocolate. Espresso. Cream.
Quite Possibly the Greatest Drink Ever.
During our week on Crete, I relaxed by reading Umberto Eco's The Prague Cemetery (as part of our group project to read books about the places we're visiting). In the fourth chapter of the book, the reprehensible Simone Simonini went to a place called Caffé Al Bicerin in Turin to drink a concoction called the bicerin.
As described in the book, the bicerin sounded amazing. It's is made from espresso, bitter chocolate, and cream, layered on top of one another, and served hot in a glass. If that doesn't sound enticing, I'm not sure what does. I took to the Internet and discovered that not only was Caffé Al Bicerin a real place, it was still in operation in the same location as described in the book (this particular chapter spanned 1830 - 1855). Since we were planning on heading to Turin in just a few days, we decided we had to visit this historic caffé.
Caffé Al Bicerin is a short walk from the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, so before we went to see the Shroud of Turin, we strolled on over to Al Bicerin to load up on a few of these mythical beverages. The caffé, which was reportedly a regular haunt of Alexandre Dumas and is staffed exclusively by women, looks exactly like it's described in The Prague Cemetery—right down to the marble tabletops and mirrors on the walls.
A single bicerin costs €5 and is a delectable treat. When it's served, you are cautioned to not stir it, just drink it as is—and drinking it is a delight. The way the layer of the cool cream combines with the bitterness of the chocolate and bright boldness of the espresso is simply fantastic. Everyone should drink a bicerin at least once in their lives (even kids ; there's a decaf espresso version).
We enjoyed the bicerins so much, we went back the next day to have another round before we left Turin. The only problem we had with the bicerin is that Al Bicerin isn't open on Wednesdays (with a few exceptions). They have some wacky hours, actually—they're also closed for all of August and other assorted but very specific dates. But what this meant for us was that we were only able to visit the place twice instead of three times during our stay in Turin.
by Umberto Eco.
19th Century Europe—from the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion—is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat. What if, behind all of these conspiracies both real and imagined, lay one lone man?