Thinking Ahead! Salone del Gusto 2014

Some people wait all year for the announcement of their favorite band's tour dates, or the first game of the season of their beloved sports team, or the latest fashions from Europe's runways, or simply Christmas or a special birthday. Me? My special date comes once every two years, and the building excitement and anticipation exceeds all of the above rolled into one. I wait for Slow Food to announce the dates of the Salone del Gusto/Terra Madre food show in Turin, Italy. Once they're public, I burst into action.

The whimsical logo of Salone del Gusto 2012I scramble to get my press pass. I book a hotel that's convenient to the show, but within walking distance of the beautiful, historic, architecturally and culturally vibrant city center of Turin.

Next, with an intellectual intensity and fanatical enthusiasm I reserve only for my life as a self-styled culinary anthropologist, I pour over the program of activities, whittling down almost 200 compelling workshops, demonstrations, wine and food tastings and meet-the-maker events into a manageable schedule. Like the culinary explorer and historian that I am, I map out a program that bisects the past, present and future of the foods, wines and practices that put Italy and other countries on the culinary map.

Finally, I make my selections, cross my fingers, press 'Send.' And wait.

Why wait? Because across the world, over a quarter of a million avid foodies are sitting on crossed fingers as well, hoping beyond hope that this year, they get their requests in early enough to get a seat at coveted events.

Some of the 250 thousand visitors at Salone del GustoSeats at the tables of dinners featuring hot world class chefs who have a passion for sustainable agriculture, heritage and old world practices and will bring their joy and skill to Turin. Seats for the best workshops featuring experts from the world over on wine, chocolate, coffee, cheese making, salumi, breads, sweets, sustainable fishing and farming and more.

A selection of Italian hard cheeses at Salone del GustoHand-sliced salami to sample at Salone del Gustoa horizontal tasting from one of hundreds of vineyards at Salone del Gusto 2012And you thought getting great seats to the Rolling Stones' latest farewell tour was close to impossible? Have I got news for you.

A lot of people purport to offer guided tours of Salone del Gusto. But if you look closely at the itineraries, you'll spend less than a day at the conference. A day? How can you see everything in a day? You'll spend the rest of your time visiting the area surrounding Turin, Milan, and other sights. And, truth be told, there is a lot to see. But guess what? All that other stuff is available the other 726 days between the Salone's biennial appearance.

For five days every two years, Salone del Gusto is my destination of choice and my sole focus. And I hope it will be yours, too.

One of several varieties of oysters at Salone del Gusto 2012Beautiful garlic at Salone del Gusto 2012Morso Soggiorno is offering a guided tour of the Salone del Gusto 2014. We will spend three days at the conference. We will roam the endless aisles of Italy's food and wine specialties, divided carefully, and classically, by region. We will amble through the Lingotto Ferie exhibition space featuring 1,000 exhibitors. We will sample pasta, prosciutto, Parmigiano and Prosecco. Cannoli from Sicily. Fiery red tomatoes from the Mt. Etna valley. And wine from over 1,200 labels.

And then, when our feet and our backs are screaming for relief, we will find our way to our pre-selected, pre-booked exclusive workshops. We will sit, rapt, while experts focus on a particular food passion, expounding upon their daily experience of bringing the best of their product or region to market. We will listen, learn, taste, compare, and contrast and do so in our native language, thanks to translation headsets available to all attendees (think of it as the U.N. of food).

Avid concentration happens in multiple language at one of the wine tastings at Salone del GustoAt the end of the day, we will savor the fare of an exclusive Salone chef at one of the well-attended, highly sought-after dinners or we will enjoy dinner in Turin, itself a world class food destination.

And then we'll get some sleep so we can get up and go at it again. Three days of immersion into Italy's food culture, directly from the producers who make it all possible.

We'll round out our time at Salone del Gusto with a few days in nearby Milan, or perhaps Rome, depending on what the group would like to do.

But make no mistake, the Salone del Gusto is our destination and we'll exult in a uniquely Italian experience: The Slow Food movement food show and Terra Madre Presídia from around the world. It is simply the experience of a lifetime for food lovers of all ages.

A small foodie checks out exotic nuts and pods at Salone del Gusto 2012I hope you'll join me. Tentative dates for Salone in 2014 are Thursday, October 23 to Sunday, October 27, 2014.

Here is a sample itinerary based on my last trip to the Salone del Gusto in October, 2012.

This trip will be limited to 10 participants.

Day 1 (Tuesday, October 21, 2014)

Arrive Rome. Check into the Donna Camilla Savelli hotel, a renovated convent conveniently located in the heart of the Trastevere. After resting a bit and freshening up, we'll enjoy a walk around the neighborhood and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 2 (Wednesday, October 22, 2014)

Breakfast at the Donna Camilla, depart Rome via high speed train for Turin. Arrive Turin and check into the Principe de Piemonte hotel. In the afternoon, we'll stroll around the historically and culturally rich city of Torino, stopping for a Bicerìn, the traditional coffee drink of the region of Piemonte around Torino, a luxury of dense hot cocoa, espresso and cream, artfully layered in a small glass. Our stop for dinner will be Ristorante Solferino.

Day 3 (Thursday, October 23, 2014)

Welcome to the Salone del Gusto! We'll brave the crowds and make our way to the Lingotto Ferie, the enormous exhibition center, formerly part of the Fiat factory. We'll tour food, wine, and other local products produced by over 1,000 artisan and craft exhibitors. Conveniently divided into regions, we'll work through Area 1 today, featuring food from Northern Italy. We'll break for our reserved workshops. This evening, we'll join other foodies at one of the exclusive dinners offered by world renown chefs, also pre-reserved.

Day 4 (Friday, October 24, 2014)

Our second day at Salone. We'll move on to Area 2, central Italy, the largest representation. For lunch, we'll visit the Mercato to sample street food Italian style. Quick, delicious, and fun. Then we're back at the workshops, a quick rest, and another chef specialty dinner.

Day 5 (Saturday, October 25, 2014)

Our third and final day at Salone, focusing on Area 3, Southern Italy and the islands of Sicily and Sardegna. Another quick lunch, more great workshops, and our final chef dinner, we'll arrive back at the Principe for much needed rest.

Day 6 (Sunday, October 26, 2014)

After a leisurely breakfast, we'll return via high speed train from Turin to Rome to spend a final night at the Donna Camilla. After an afternoon at leisure to enjoy a stroll or shop, we celebrate our trip with a more modern dinner at the hip and a little scandalous Ristorante Bar del Fico.

Day 7 (Monday, October 27, 2014)

Depart Rome for the United States.

More information on a specific itinerary and confirmed hotels to follow. If you're interested in learning more, please email me using the form below.

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