Mmm... nougat!

by Sistaweotch December. 13, 2008 4413 views

Dario and I went on a tour to the San Marco dei Cavoti [en.wikipedia.org]festival – and the Serio croccantini factory [dolciariaserio.com]! Mmm, nougat and croccantini straight from the source – doesn't get much better than that!

Along the way we managed to snatch some lovely photos (small camera only!) of the Benevento scenery. There was even a dusting of snow along the tops of the Apennines [en.wikipedia.org]. It had been rainy and cold all week, and started again on Sunday, but for Saturday it was clear. Dario says it is all his doing, just like the clear day on Vesuvius. I asked for a bit extra this time, since it was really foggy as we got closer to San Marco dei Cavoti. He says he usually just handles the sun/rain issues, but put forth a little extra effort and managed to clear the fog, too. ;)

After the factory, we went to the town of San Marco dei Cavoti, where they were having a festival, all about the nougat and the croccantini: Festa del Torrone! [festadeltorrone.it] …Well, and some seemingly anachronistic pop music, a bubble machine, and a guy on stilts.

We got a mini tour up “Paradise Road,” the road that leads from the town square up to the church. Then we peeked at some local goods at a small bazaar. There was some AWESOME cheese with porcini mushrooms. Later we went back and bought half a kilo, which was half of a small wheel of cheese! (I still don't know from kilos, btw. Metric = confusion.)

Then it was off to Il Leone d'Oro (The Golden Lion) restaurant for lunch. I have become a bit of a wine snob, apparently, as the table wine that was included just wasn't doing it for me. Dario and I got our own bottle and shared it with the folks near us. Ahh, much better!

Erol and his adorable son, Filippo, sat next to us. Erol is a wonderfully indulgent father and happily put on a mask and dueled his son with a balloon sword when called upon. We saw them several hours later at the main piazza, continuing the duel. I am not sure who finally won, though I suspect it was Filippo. ;)

Almost any time someone from the tour had the opportunity to speak with Dario, they did. (“Omg, real live Eye-talian!”) They were anxious to try out their Italian-speaking skills on him and ask him questions about Naples and Italy. It was very cute. Everyone was so nice!

After the meal, the tour continued to a clock museum. Dario and I opted to shop instead. This is when we went back and bought the cheese, mmm! (Sadly, Dario is fasting this week. I guess that means I will be eating the cheese by myself. Oh, well. I will find a way to endure!)

At night the piazza came alive in a way that was much friendlier and more welcoming than the day time. If I had not been so tremendously stuffed, I would have bought some roasted chestnuts and perhaps indulged in caffé. As it was, I indulged in silly photos of me and Dario. His picture ultimately won the place on Photoblog, however, as his arms are longer. ;)

Appennini con la neve! (If Google translator is to be believed, that is how you say “Apennine Mountains with snow!” :)

Ah, yes… Dario, would you please take care of that fog? It's lovely and all, but a clear day would be greatly appreciated. Grazie!

(ps: I think that's a Roman aqueduct!)

Oh, and Dario, would you hold my sunglasses for a moment, please? I just need to– What are you doing?

Sigh.

Men.

The factory [dolciariaserio.com]!

"Wait – are you telling me you're bringing American tourists in here? …Again? Mamma mia!"

When they say made by hand, they REALLY mean it!

Careful! Hot deliciousness coming through!

Second biggest KitchenAid ever!

My first thought was, “What are they doing with birdseed in here?” I couldn't imagine a feeder inside a place where food is made. Sigh. Not birdseed – ground nuts for the croccantino!

Ok, THIS is the biggest KitchenAid ever! Mmm… caramelized nuts and sugar… smells so good!

“Eat me!”

Nooo! Must. Resist. Croccantino!

This vat is full of chocolate from Turino [en.wikipedia.org]. The cocoa beans are from South America. The chocolate on the croccantino is dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa.

I want to take a bath in it.

From the vat, there are pipes that go up and over the room. PIPES! Full of CHOCOLATE! Omg! I'm ordering that for my house!

*Homer Simpson drooling sound*

We later learned that the chocolate machine of the Serio factory beat Garry Kasparov [en.wikipedia.org] at chess, but the incident was not widely reported. Mr. Kasparov's loss was blamed on him being “…insensate due to croccantino overload.” A likely story!

Lucy and Ethel [youtube.com] had stepped away for the moment, leaving their much calmer and more competent compatriots to demonstrate the packaging process.

All the people at the factory were so nice!

And now for the tasting!

“Hmm. Yes, 2008 was a good year for croccantino. This bar has a delicate bouquet, fruity in flavor, but not so much so that it overwhelms the cocoa…”

“…yes, I believe I will give this 4.5 out of a possible 5 stars. I will consider a 5 star rating if I can have another 10 samples.”

Base of the tree in the piazza.

“Paradise Road,” today known as Via Roma, which leads from Piazza Risorgimento up to Chiesa Di San Marco Evangelista.

Though the cement has been maintained with modern materials, the stones are original. 14th century. Gosh!

Torre dei Provenzali, alternately used as a guard post, prison, and bell tower. Currently in use as the latter. ;)

When you walk up Paradise Road to the church, you get a view of… another church! (Belvedere Grazionella.)

Filippo is giving those steps what for, I tell ya!

Si, I Was There. :D

I am guessing this is the “triumph” of Christianity over paganism. …poor little faun. :(

Haha! Joke's on you! If you upset the forest gods, you only get a scraggly, Charlie Brown Christmas tree!

Nativity scene inside the church.

“Kindly refrain from sticking gummy bears to my head.”

Moments earlier, Filippo was wearing the mask. Now, however, it was dad's turn.

“Ah! So that's where we are.”

Padre Pio: “Who are you to keep flashing lights in my eyes? Bah, Americans!”

Piazza Risorgimento.

Dario and me. :)


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