“Milk or Dark Chocolate?”
Any email that has that as the subject line is bound to make for an interesting read.
And when the mail is coming from someone working at Venchi Chocolate, that makes it that much better! When I was contacted by someone working at Venchi, who is also a reader of my blog (grazie mille, Sabrina!), I was excited as it’s a brand I know well living in the north of Italy since they are from Piedmont. You may have also seen them in the major airports of Italy, but I enjoy their little store just steps from the Duomo in Milan.
I tasted Venchi on my first trip to Torino in 2005, several months before they had the Winter Olympics there.
At the time we were newlyweds, and I lived in Pavia, a small town about 30 minutes south of Milan. Looking back, the time we spent there was very happy but a true test to any couple, especially a new one. We had no personal transportation other than bicycles, and we lived far from the city center. Each morning I rode my bicycle (uphill, naturally) to the train station, so I could make the commute to the opposite part of Milan in the north. My commute sometimes would take 3-3.5 hours per day, and when I arrived back in Pavia in the evening usually the entire city was already shut down.
We therefore looked to the train system to take us on a little excursion when we could get away, and one of our first was Torino, Turin.
So when we arrived in Turin and saw all the construction that was being done for the 2006 Olympics, we were disappointed but still glad not to be in Pavia for the moment. We consoled ourselves by escaping the cold and getting cioccolata calda, hot chocolate and eating all the gianduja, hazelnut chocolate we could find. Turin, being in Piedmont has a ton of chocolatiers there – and I found Venchi everywhere.
Now I can find Venchi closer to home – I sometimes buy their Caramel “Unico” bars when I need a caramel fix (most Italian chocolate doesn’t really feature caramel), and I like their no-sugar added line (especially the cremini) for some sugar-sensitive relatives.
So when I received my little care package, I documented it carefully, smelled everything, and immediately thought of sharing the experience with you.
In my package there were some things new to me, like:
- Chocaviar – what I thought would be pieces of cacao nibs covered in chocolate, is actually much better and smoother – 90% pure chocolate covered in extra dark chocolate. I prefer this to the crunchy nibs, and it was hands-down my favorite thing in the basket. I can see this being a bit of an addiction. I mean, really – someone come get the rest of this container from me.
- Cremacacao spread – hazelnut chocolate spread – their version of Nutella which I liked but found a bit difficult to spread because it’s so cold here, so I had to go with a spoon!
- Cuba – in the shape of a cigar, naturally, when unwrapped it reveals a long chocolate “cigar” that has a solid center of hazelnut chocolate and is covered in dark chocolate. Its size means it’s to share!
- some little packaged chocolates and some bars of extra dark chocolate that I have earmarked for some baking experiments for the new year.
Want Venchi for yourself?
A small selection of Venchi chocolate is available on Amazon.com – nothing on Amazon.it yet. A quick search finds some of it on Chocolate.com, too. Or you can buy directly on the website Venchi.it – it looks like they ship worldwide, but I haven’t experimented with it myself.
Wait, you didn’t think that was all, did you? Of course I’m going to share Venchi with you!!
Venchi Italian chocolates selection for one reader
I hand-picked your selection and it’s a little different from mine, and I headed to the Venchi store near the Duomo in Milan to pick it up this weekend. Yes, it was snowing. While I was there, there were boxes everywhere as the staff worked furiously to ready shipments just in time for Christmas.
This won’t get there in time for Christmas, but just the same, you’ll get some great stuff for the new year. Here’s what’s included (no gift-wrapped box like I received, sorry):
- A decorative, re-usable Cioccolato Venchi tin with 50g of extra dark and milk chocolate squares inside
- Chocaviar – Chocolate caviar (40g) – bits of 90% chocolate covered in extra dark chocolate (75%)
- Three (3) 45g chocolate bars – Extra dark chocolate 75% with hot pepper (peperoncino) – gluten free, Extra dark chocolate 85%, and Extra milk chocolate (gluten free)
To win, leave a comment here on this post, answering this question:
What’s your favorite article you’ve read on Ms. Adventures in Italy, and why?
Did you like the how-to on aperitivo? My travel photos from India? My chocolate dessert recipes or my behind-the scenes looks into Italian food? Tell me in the comments!
The details: One comment per person – the email address associated with your comment must be valid. You do not need to leave your email address in the comment body itself.
I’ll pick a winner on December 25th from the comments using a random number generator, and I’ll make arrangements to send the winner the package the first week of January – this way you’ll have something to look forward to in the new year!
I’ll ship this worldwide, but please get informed yourself if your country has duty or customs problems with chocolate – any taxes or customs will be your responsibility. If the reader does not reply to my winner email in 5 days from being contacted, I will select another winner.
Are you a fan of Ms. Adventures in Italy on Facebook?
Disclosure: I received the gift package from Venchi with no strings attached – they did not ask me to blog about it, nor am I being compensated for this post. The products in the giveaway were purchased with my own money.
Please pick me! Please.
Chococaviar is really tempting and posh. I want it :)
Your giveaway is more than original.
I think the article about pignoli cookies. Just easy, but the perfect recipe. However, everything on your site is great. Thanks!
Loved all your post.. I would have picked your translation for INCEPTION BERLUSCONI but I’m not sure that can be considered a post. Now that I live here in the States, I found very helpfull your post “Italy’s gift guide for all Year around”.. everytime I come back from Italy It’s nice to bring to my family and friends in Chicago something that they can not find here. Thank you so very much!
Rose in Cali says
My all-time favorite MAII post is still, hands down, “Help! How Do I Live and Work in Italy?” from 2007 because of the practical information. I read it in hopes of someday actually living there one day. My favorite post of 2010 is “How Italy has changed my diet in 7 years” from June. I enjoy reading about the differences in Italian and American culture.
Grazie e Buon Natale!
The Food Hunter says
I enjoy all of your posts…but my favorite was the one about the wedding…weddings and Italy = romance.
Oh, that’s a hard one, but I’d pick Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onions Recipe, just because the recipe really appeals to me – the sweetness of the roasted cauli, the sharp tang of blue cheese and then more sweetness from the onions. YUM!
Sharlene McLean says
Very much enjoy your posts and would love to be picked the winner. I’ll also have to look for these chocolates when I’m in Torino in April.
Jill Byrd says
I have enjoyed all your articles, but by far, this was my fav. It just made me feel all warm inside reading about the dark chocolate, I could taste it:))
Frog Hollow Farm Girl says
Merry Christmas greetings from Frog Hollow Farm! This is so funny because I have a small bar of Venchi chocolate in front of me right now, purchased at Eataly in NYC the other day! It’s the gianduja nocciolato fondente and I can’t wait to open it! I love so many of your posts but one of my favorites was the Pumpkin Savory Tart since we had so many pumpkins from our garden this fall. I have so many of your recipes saved to make when I have the time – and I also absolutely loved reading the wedding posts – so lovely. I would love to win some more Venchi chocolate!! Ciao, bella!
Chocolate makes my day!!!
ann h says
I love all of your travel advice. But chocolate advice? Now you’re talking. Can’t wait to taste it! Buon Natale!
I really appreciated your blog post on “How to Avoid a Pickpocket.” My family and I have discussed going to Italy and in our research, there is a lot of talk of pickpocketing going on.
But it isn’t as though this happens only in Italy. I live near New Orleans and whenever I go there, I never take my purse. It’s pickpocket heaven in New Orleans too. You offer excellent ideas on not being a target, no matter where you are.
(Have I mentioned that I’m a chocoholic? Chocolate – yummmmmmmmmmmmmm)
I really appreciated your blog post with tips on traveling in Italy. It really helped us during our visit there this past September!
Thanks & Happy Holidays Sara!
Manuela Sartor Butcher says
”Acqua e Menta – Water and Mint, an Italian Summer Drink” – it brought back so many memories! :)
The Best Holiday Cookie Swap Ever
Because these photos and story are still in my mind and often remembered by attendees :)
Laura from Ciao Amalfi says
Oh… YUM!! I’ll be doing a chocolate giveaway on my blog next month, so be sure to stop by! :-) My favorite post… it’s hard to choose… but I think I’d have to go with “Italian Hand Gestures: It’s a Dance” with your video. It made me smile because so many people have told me how much more I gesture while I now after 4 years in Italy. It’s absolutely infectious! :-)
Hi Sara! I love, love, love your post called “Laduree Macarons and Finding the Perfect Macaron Recipe.” I read it many times before embarking on my own “macaron crawl” in Paris for Easter of 2009. The Laduree ones are pure heaven. I was living in Italy at the time but now am back in Boston. Although macarons have become more popular here (Whole Foods always has them sitting on top of their bakery display and a cousin gave me a package from Starbuck’s (of all places!) last Christmas), they simply do not compare to Laduree! LA Burdick’s has the best that I’ve found (so far) on this side of the Atlantic.
By the way, my 2nd favorite post would have to be the one about Pocket Espresso (and the summertime version.) Thank you for introducing me to that little addiction!
I love the blog. Buon Natale!!
Vicki Ferguson says
The post about how your diet had changed since you moved to Italy was fascinating. The differences in eating habits is remarkable. And then you had to tempt me with that chocolate mousse and espresso coffee chocolate chip mousse cake…luscious, decadent, and down right yummy! Thank you for everything you write, it’s all good!
Jill Steinhoff says
I love all your posts, but especially the posts that reference your MOM! Makes me think of my own daughter with love. Oh, wait! You ARE my daughter and I won’t qualify for the prize, but had to comment anyway…. :)
My favorite post was about Il Massimo Del Gelato in 2007. You introduced me to that amazing place and I think it has to be the best gelato in all of Italy.
Tour del Gelato: Il Massimo del Gelato, Milan
I would swear a long time ago you posted about these adorable hats you made for a nephew? Animal hats- I fell in love and now I can’t find them. Maybe wrong blog.Hmpphh. Anyway I also like your post called, “My Big Secret”! And I would love to win these chocolates!
A Pugliese wedding in Abruzzo, Italy is probably my favorite just because of the pictures of all that fantastic looking food!!! Reading this blog had me very near to drooling for chocolate, so please enter me in the contest! :D
I really enjoyed the post on the Christmas presepe nativity scenes in Naples. Your blog is always such a delight. I haven’t lived in Italy (yet!), but you make me homesick for my Nonna.
I just recently discovered your blog when I was looking for some Italian cookie recipes. I have been hooked ever since. I enjoy reading about your adventures with my two of my favorite topics–food and Italy.
My favourite article was the series about the making of Prosciutto di Parma, I love prosciutto and it was really interesting to learn how it’s made!!
I like the “what I see” feature best becuase it gives me a real taste for italian life. I probably will never get to Italy, but I feel like I get to know the real thing here. Thanks!
Liane Bonin says
This is easy — How to Order an Italian Coffee in Italy is the article I keep returning to, in part because of the photos (I’m sorry, I can’t get coffee that looks like this in the U.S., no matter what the coffee snobs say) and because I’ve never been able to get anyone outside of Milan to make me a marocchino, which I only learned about from you — how is that possible? Sigh.
So many to choose from… but I have to say learning about Nutella Day in February and the recipes … that brought me back to my time in Italy over 20 years ago!
I have enjoyed all your articles, but I got hooked to your blog with your chocolate/chocolate chip mousse recipe. I made it from your recipe and even left you a comment about it! I thoroughly enjoyed your gift giving guide too. This is a great gift and so sweet of you! Merry Christmas, Melissa
Since I am new to this blog, I can not really pick a topic, but it appears I have missed so much. Being of Italian descent, I read and have enjoyed everything I have received, but I am wondering if I have gotten them all.
Would love to taste the Venchi since I am also a chocoholic.
Thanks for this opportunity and hope I receive all your blog reports as I plan on visiting Italy soon.
My favorite post was the one about the most common tourist mistakes. Many of these are not addressed in other places.
Other than “How to order a coffee in Italy” my favourite post was the one about breakfast in Italy. I was about to host an Italian student and was eager to please so I read this one several times even aloud to the family ensuring everyone was informed. Thank you you helped heaps! Our student actually enjoyed my Choc Chip and Blueberry muffins the most for breakfast. Merry Christmas!
I love your post(s) on the wedding in Puglia. I long to attend in Italy some day. My tutor is from Sicily and she just got married here in the US and I hope she decides to have a Sicilian wedding!
I haven’t read that much of your blog yet, but one article I love is the “How to order an Italian coffee in Italy”.
I just moved to Italy in October and discovered amazingly simple roast chicken from the tavola caldo on my corner. I actually have your recipe for chicken broth bookmarked so that I can make it whenever I pick up a pollo!
Thanks for the *sweet* giveaway
Chocaviar looks so wonderful and original! :D How do they come up with stuff like this? XD
I love your blog because I live quite close to Italy (Malta) so I’ve been submerged by lots of things Italian practically all my life.
I really enjoyed your article on the 10 tourist mistakes; ahhh bella Italia! ^_^
nyc/caribbean ragazza says
You don’t have to enroll me in the contest but wanted to say I’m having a hard time picking just one favorite!
In the spirit (ha) of the holidays I’m choosing your aperitivi one.
Ledina Hido says
Difficult one, but the recipe for Classic Chocolate Mousse and Espresso Coffee Chocolate Chip Mousse Cake has to be mine – I’m a chocoholic :)
I love the recipes – especially Fresh Lemon Pasta with Spring Peas and Mint (although it’s completely the wrong time of year for it right now).
Love Venchi! The caviar looks amazing.
Michelle @ Italian Mama Chef says
Oh I think it’s a tie between your recipes and how to order coffee in Italy.
I enjoy reading your blog very much. I’m an italian living in the US (Oregon) and love to see Italy through an American’s eyes. It helps me understand Italy better, and the US better. Keep posting.
And if you really enjoy artisan chocolate you owe it to yourself to try ‘Viganotti Romeo Fabbrica Di Cioccolato e Affini’, in Genoa. (vico Castagna 14R. (cortile)
Genova GE 16123
Italia) Hard to find, well worth the search, I will say no more.
Buon Natale a tutti.
By far the most memorable was the first article on World Nutella day. I have to admit that since then Nutella has become an integral part of my day! Currently enjoying Nutella lattes! Thanks for a great read!
It’s difficult to choose just a single favorite blog entry, but mine would have to be your series on Aperitivo. It brought me back to my time in Italy and working for an Italian company in the states.
My favorite is of course the one where you write about your Easter lunch in Acqui Terme because it brings back wonderful memories of meeting you and your love and eating good food that my friends cooked. I am so happy that we met in person and hope for many more rounds of good wine, good food and good conversation. xoxo
Eric M says
I think it was the pugliese wedding…The description, photos and beautiful simplicity was indeed spectacular. Buon Natale!