Tonight is a perfect winter night for an Italian “hot bath”. A bubbly incensual infusion of olive oil, butter, garlic and anchovies called a “bagna cauda“. A hot bath for dipping chunks of crusty bread, celery stalks, steamed onions and cardoons (thistles). This hot dip from Piemonte shares Italian cold weather cuisine with a winter brasato and a Valdostana fondue.
Typically served in a copper cauldron or terra-cotta pot placed in the middle of the table it is designed for communal food bathing.There are several variations on this sauce including one with an enormous amount of garlic (5 heads) that simmers in milk for an hour before entering into the bath. In fact heavy cream is sometimes added to make this a warm milk bath that will have you envious of the ingredients that enter the ritualist pool. For the rite of bagna cauda is one of a convivial atmosphere with friends and family gathered around the simmering pot of sauce waifing through the air entering into every pore of your being leaving you awash in a satisfying glow.
Got out of the car on the A-1 autostrada and headed over to the Autogrill with my cousin Lidia who turned to me and asked if I would like a Crodino. Colas and Big Gulps are not the drink of choice when Italians turn to a refreshing mid-day break or a non-alcoholic apertivo. Many Italians follow one of Italy’s legendary commercials when barman Dino is asked to “uncork a Crodino”.
A product of the 60’s, Crodino originated in Crodo in Italy’s northern Piedmonte where waters from the valley were made into a traditional extract drawn from an infusion of aromatic herbs, plants, fruit pieces, cloves and nutmeg oil selected to develop a pleasantly refreshing and invigorating beverage. In 1995 Crodino was acquired, re-launched and given a new image by Gruppo Campari making it the most famous non-alcoholic aperitivo in Italy. Crodino remains one of Italy’s most renowned and consumed drinks packaged in a distinctive 100 ml Campari-style glass bottle. Known for it’s light effervescence and distinctive bitter-sweet orange flavor, loyal Crodino drinkers in Italy and the EU have created an almost cult-like following creating an iconic brand that labels itself “the non-alcoholic blond drink that makes crazy the world”. Evidentally the US is not part of Crodino’s world as of this posting, meaning you cannot buy Crodino in the United States although I did see a pair of Born Oxford boat shoes in Crodino Orange for sale on E-bay.