19 Nov Food finds: Laleo, Turin
As anyone who knows me is well aware, I have a thoroughly no fucks given approach to doing things alone. I love fun activities with friends, but as I’ve got older I’ve become increasingly aware that I do need to recharge after spending a lot of time with other people, and have learned that I actually really enjoy my own company too.
I try to deliberately carve out some time in my weekends to spend alone, which can mean catching up on some life admin over a coffee, going for a wander with my headphones in, or just sitting in my nice warm house with a cup of tea, watching New Girl on Netflix and ignoring WhatsApp.
Before my university year abroad, I wouldn’t have dreamed of going out to dinner, to the cinema, or even just for a coffee without company, and the idea of a Saturday alone would have filled me with dread. But it’s amazing what knowing absolutely no one can do for you, and I soon learned that when the choice is between doing something alone or not doing anything at all, you just have to put on your big girl pants and go.
I’ve come a long way since the days of reluctantly asking for a table for one in the café under my flat in Madrid so that I could eat carrot cake and use the WiFi, fearful of judgment and feeling like a total loser.
My solo activity this weekend involved an extremely yummy kind-of-brunch-but-more-like-very-early-lunch in a place called Laleo, just a 10 minute walk from my house but in an area which I hardly ever go to.
I stumbled across Laleo’s Facebook page a while ago, and had been curious to check the place out since then – Italy isn’t usually very good at cute cafés so I get a bit excited when I find out about a new one, especially if it’s a little bit off the beaten track. I woke up on Saturday morning absolutely starving and with no desire whatsoever to message around to see if anyone wanted to come and eat with me.
I packed my bag with notebook and iPad for entertainment, put on my plimsolls and strolled across the Dora river in the crisp Autumn air.
The place is in Corso Verona, on the “border” between two neighbourhoods – Vanchiglia, where I live, and Aurora. Aurora isn’t famed for being the nicest area of the city, but this part right near the Dora river is quite up-and-coming, and is home to a number of hipster-ish style cafés and restaurants (including a couple on my to-try list), and I’ve never found it dodgy at all.
The restaurant itself is decorated in a style which could only be defined as American bakery meets retro shabby chic, with wooden tables, velvety seats, industrial stools, and the kind of tiles you usually find in old-fashioned houses. It’s quiet and cosy (there are only 4 proper tables, with a few seats on a long sofa bench thing, and a few at the bar), so is actually the perfect place for a solo brekkie or a relaxed catch up morning with a friend. And there’s free WiFi, which isn’t anything to shout about in the rest of the world, but is not always a given in Italy.
The brunch menu changes every week (Laleo publishes the upcoming weekend’s menu on their Facebook page during the week) but the structure remains the same. You can either get 3 dishes + a juice + a hot drink for €15, 1 dish + a juice for €12, or choose individual dishes à la carte instead.
Brunch fiend that I am, option 1 was the obvious winner, and I chose the following very fancy-sounding options: spiced pea and pumpkin soup with yogurt; pear and gorgonzola quiche; ricotta and “persimmon” tart (full disclosure: had to WordReference that one – I’ve only ever come across cachi in Italy); Americano coffee; and fresh melon, pineapple and ginger juice. They also threw in a little pepper and sausage sandwich which was a nice surprise (the best kind of food is the free kind, after all).
Everything was just as yummy as it sounds, and I left feeling recharged, very full, suitably caffeinated, and bit smug about finding a new go-to Saturday morning spot.
Maybe I’ll invite someone else to come with me next time… but I’m afraid I can’t make any promises.