Lest you think that all food in Italy is slow food, Italians do have a way with convenience foods. I've written before about the imaginative lunchable-in-translation of Nutella, breadsticks, and ice tea. When we traveled to Italy a few weeks ago, we spotted pouches of foil-wrapped bite-size cubes of parmiggiano reggiano, "fredo fredo" and "caldo caldo" (instantly hot or cold coffees), and, at the COOP (supermarket), small pouches of pre-cubed pancetta, just right for cooking one dish. But, none of these could have prepared me for the magic of Pocket Espresso To Go, my newest discovery.
I've been a fan of Ferrero's Pocket Coffee, a chocolate and praline confection with a liquid coffee center (think of those nasty liquor-filled chocolate bottles, only better and with espresso inside and you get the idea). Stopping at an Autogrill somewhere along the Autostrade between Milan and Bologna, I thought I was purchasing some of these treats. However, it turned out that I had taken home some something quite different.
Opening the box, I discovered that these were not the candies I expected, but tiny containers. Each came with a two inch-long straw attached, and a spot labeled "forare qui" (pierce here). I plunged the straw into the miniature drink box and sucked out the syrupy contents: 21.8 ml of the liquid center (sweetened with sugar and chocolate) you would find in Pocket Coffee. It was thick, bitter-sweet, and stimulating (according to the box, contains 1/3 of the caffeine in a shot of espresso).
Unfortunately, I can't find a source for purchasing Pocket Espresso To Go in the U.S., but if you know of one, let us know in the comments.