Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I mentioned briefly that I had been up to Taste last weekend. This is a food fair organized in Florence by Pitti Immagini, with exhibitors chosen by Davide Paolini (one of the most respected Italian food journalists). Now in it’s sixth year, the fair differs from other - bigger - events like Cibus or even Salone del Gusto. Taste is on the small side - only about 200 exhibitors - and is by invitation only. And since it’s mostly Paolini that is doing the inviting, it’s really the best that’s going on in Italy these days.
It’s hard to report on everything I saw/ate/did, especially in one blog post. So I’ll be dividing my discoveries into the next few days.
Today: The Sweet Stuff
One of the trends I picked up on was the biscotti thing. Yes, the perennially and well-known Biscottifficio Mattei, from Prato, was there. But much more exciting was the interest in creating new types of biscotti. I loved the way bakers were using different herbs, spices and even flowers. And the small size kept things definitely on the Italian side of things. (no huge chocolate chip cookies, thank god). What I really loved was, when it came to biscotti, not all was sweet. There were just as many biscotti salati. Which I guess you could call crackers if you really wanted to, but they are more like salty cookies. Great to have with an aperitivo.
Il Mondo di Laura was there, of course, with her kosher cookies from Rome. (Sorry, somehow didn’t get any photos). And Biscotti di Lory came up from Sicily with cookies studded with saffron, fennel, lavender, coriander and mustard seeds.
My favorite cookies of all may have been from Biscotteria di Bettina, from Treviso. She’s ‘invented’ two types of cookies that kept me coming back to her stand. Tiramisu cookies (I mean, why has no one ever thought of these before?!) layered crispy tastes of coffee, chocolate and mascarpone. And my favorite salty treat: peanut and parmigiano cantucci. They look like traditional biscotti, but what genius pairing peanut and parmigiano, with enough butter and flour to hold them together. (I’ll be trying to recreate these darlings at home)
And the winner of the most inventive use of olive oil has to go to Signorini for their version of panettone: L’Insolito. Instead of using butter, they make an emulsion of olive oil, walnuts and basil. That’s why it’s greenish. And that’s also why it tastes so extraordinary. Yes, it sounds a bit weird, but wasn’t at all. It was moist, and fragrant with olives, but with all the right sweet notes.
Olive oil (from Vicopisano) also made it into Trinci’s chocolate spread. I think the empty jar says it all.
And the winner of the best use of beer goes to Rizzati from Ferrara for their Baladin beer-filled chocolates.
Flowers, spices, nuts and fruits make it into I Biscotti di Lory
Bettina's Tiramisu cookies. A gift to the human race.
Salty peanut and parmigiano cantucci from Bettina.
Sounds wierd, tastes great: olive oil pannetone
Maybe olive oil added to chocolate spread makes it health food?
Mondo di Laura
Biscotti di Lory
Bicottificcio di Bettina
Signorini tel: 0574 464 997 (Prato)