Monday, April 25, 2011

Eataly's bicerin - non delizioso

There are many reasons to visit Eataly, that mecca of food devoted to everything Italian. One can dine in any of the six restaurants, buy Italian specialty goods or simply dash in for a quick espresso. The hunt for edible confectionery suitable as a birthday gift explained my presence at Eataly on a warm Sunday afternoon.

I fortuitously glanced up at the board above the coffee bar and laid my eyes on the word "bicerin".In a couple of previous posts, I had claimed that this sweet treat from Turin was served only at Pubblico Espresso Bar in the Village - but here was evidence to the contrary.

Eager to sample Eataly's version of bicerin despite the warm weather, I found an empty seat at the counter and took a sip. And another. Whereas my lips expected the taste of cold cream intersecting with hot, robust espresso and sweet chocolate, the layer of cream, alarmingly thin in appearance, was equally overpowered in taste.

A bit of consolation was the Lavazza coffee used in the bicerin, at least that counted for something. I stirred the remains of the concoction, a big no-no, my disappointment apparent to all who cared to notice and my mind racing to find an explanation for this humdrum offering from Eataly.

Compared to Pubblico's bicerin, this was dreadful, or had I just been spoiled? No doubt the ingredients at both places were equally beyond reproach, but the harried baristas at Eataly whom I overheard mixing up customers' orders did not inspire confidence, compared to the sight of Francesca and Alessandro shaking the container of cold cream lovingly.

I did find some pistachio spread and truffles for my friend, so the afternoon wasn't a total waste. Perhaps I'll try a couple of flavors of gelato on a hot summer's day at Eataly, but cozy Pubblico will always be my place for bicerin.

P.S. Excuse the lousy photos taken with a mobile phone.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Bicerin redux at Pubblico Espresso Bar

Bicerin, specialty of Pubblico Cafe
Not quite sure why it took over a month to revisit Pubblico Cafe in the Village for some bicerin, but a blustery un-springlike Saturday afternoon provided the perfect excuse to drop by. 

This time I happened to have a real camera with me, in contrast to my first visit when I used my cell phone to snap a few pics that were quite lousy. 

Strains of Amadou and Mariam's music greeted me as I entered the cafe. It was deserted except for Francesca, the friendly Italian counter person who shared my interest in the blind couple's music, and who managed to convince me to sample two freshly-delivered cookies. Good thing too since my taco lunch left me craving some dessert. 

The tart, intense raspberry chocolate cookie (Francesca's favorite) was to my liking, as well as the wine-infused biscuit with anise. 

But let's not forget what I came for - another taste of bicerin. I recounted to her
how I gave in to Alessandro's enthusiasm the first time, and what a delicious surprise my first taste of the specialty from Turin was.
I was wary of having built up Pubblico's bicerin in my mind, and being disappointed the second time around. However, I'm glad to report that was definitely not the case - the perfect blend of chocolate, espresso and hand-shaken cold cream, accompanied by the cookies and the New York Times magazine, provided a pleasant late-afternoon interlude. And, I hope the photos are much better this time.


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