The SOMM Journal

February / March 2016

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Page 125 of 132

Then and Now: The original drawing of the Eataly concept by founder, Oscar Farinetti. After a local food exhibition in Torino with highly specialized and singular food concepts, Farinetti drafted up what would become Eataly Torino, opened in 2007. Eight years later there are more than 30 stores on four continents. Eataly: Talks the Most, Says the Most Too much info at times? Possibly, but we'd rather over-deliver on the tutelage. Education and the sharing of information are at the forefront of the Eataly mission. With every product comes a colorful sign explaining the provenance and significance of what's offered on the shelves below. All told, there are more than 1,000 signs throughout the market, and the level of detail on each runs deep. The olive oil department includes wall-mounted signs measuring five feet tall with maps of Italy calling out more than 50 indigenous and uniquely different olive varieties. The signs further illustrate where these olives typically grow, common flavor characteristics and how to use them (cooking oils vs. finishing oils). Just to the left above the massive selection of vinegars is a sequence of signs that explain the various aging requirements and quality levels of balsamic vinegar. Further down the aisles amidst the 80 or so selections of dried pasta, signs explain how pastas produced using bronze-extruded molds create rough textures that catch and retain sauce better than other types of pastas produced in less artisanal ways. Make a right turn, and you're faced with a wall of cured meats offering a myriad of choices: soprasatta, mortadella, bresaola, coppa and various types and ages of prosciutto. Above the wall of cured meats hang large banners explaining how the cool Alpine climate of Friuli imbues a sweeter and softer texture to air-dried prosciutto, whereas in Emilia-Romagna the prosciutti are more concentrated and savory, given the warmer and more moderate climate. So it goes for all products throughout the market. All this to aid in shoppers' culinary adventures. Flanking the massive retail selection are two separate culinary centers, appropriately named La Scuola Grande (The Big School) and La Scuola Piccola (The Small School). Cooking and wine classes are a daily offering taught by a variety of in-house instructors. Once or twice a week Eataly hosts revered chefs and wine personalities who gracefully wax poetic about the latest and greatest in their respective fields.

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