Archive for nuts

The “L List” – Day 2

Posted in Fancy Food Show with tags , , , , on January 21, 2010 by massapeel

Well, we’re back in Virginia after a full day of travel.  Dylan, my 7 month old, did fabulously on all 4 legs of travel (2 legs each way) — couldn’t have asked for a better traveller!  And, while slightly jet lagged, we’re sticking to our guns to get ourselves back on Eastern time (i.e., we all woke up at 7:30-8am this morning, despite the desire to snuggle down into the covers for several more hours!)  Didn’t help matters that the phenomenally gorgeous sunny & 65-degree weather left just as we returned, only to be replaced by the prospect of sleet. 

Anyhoo…  I am sure that you are all curious as to my second selection of cool and new (or new to me) finds from the Fancy Food Show.  Drumroll, please….. 

tasty little gems

Number 2.   Guesses, anyone???  Bueller?  

This is paneforte.  What is paneforte, you ask?  Well, panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, which some say resembles fruitcake.  I hate to even write those words, because “fruitcake” has such a negative association here in the States.  This delicacy is nothing like any fruitcake that I’ve ever had!  

So, here’s your history lesson for the day.  Paneforte  is hypothesized to have dated back to 13th century Sienna (Italy’s Tuscany region), based on documents which suggest that panforte was paid to the monks and nuns of a local monastery as a tax or tithe.  

Literally, panforte means “strong bread” which refers to the spicy flavour.  And, in fact, the original name of panforte was “panpepato” (peppered bread), due to the strong pepper used in the cake.  (I use the term “cake” loosely here…  really, depending on the recipe, it can range from a dense flourless cake to a paste – think quince paste that accompanies Manchego cheese).  And, in fact, because of its denseness and hearty ingredients, Crusaders are thought to have carried panforte with them on their quests, and used panforte in surviving sieges. 

California produced paneforte - secret family recipe

However, there are likely as many recipes for paneforte as there are shops selling the stuff!  The delicious concoction that I sampled at the Fancy Food Show was more in the vein of dense fruity paste as opposed to the spicy cake variety.  It was an apricot almond paneforte, made from an old family recipe by The Paneforte Company.  (The family producing it lives in California, so my romantic imagination envisions them hand-picking apricots and almonds from their local (if not personal) groves.  But, truth be told, I did not have the time to ask them that!)  

It was deliciously fresh, and simple – perfect blending of the apricot paste — not sticky, not hard, just perfect — and bursting with flavor.   It reminded me of the kind of dessert that my mother would have allowed me as a young tot in the early 70’s…  in her hippie-mom days that included Easter baskets full of carob (I did not taste a Peep until I was in my 30’s, and frankly, I don’t know why I did it then…  peer pressure!).  BUT, this is ohh so much better (not that there is anything wrong with carob!).  It would be an awesome accompaniment to cheeses, with coffee or dessert wines, with those sweet Carr’s wheat biscuits…  or, frankly, just plain!  (and for those runners, triatheletes, etc… out there – I think that a slice of this would be eminently better than sticky icky Goo!) 

Hopefully, you’ll all try this stuff.  It rocks, and you’d be supporting a family business.