Twas the week before Christmas and the Accidental Locavore received a great box of Italian treats, all of which were things I’d actually never tasted before. They were from Emporio Rulli in California and included a good-looking panettone and a package of Cialde wafers. I’d never even heard of the wafers — they come from Montecatini, the famous spa town (however, it’s doubtful that these are spa cookies). First of all, they’re beautiful and it turns out that Chef Rulli is the only one to have the special machines that emboss the cookies. Delicate wafers (that amazingly arrived completely intact) about the size of dessert plates, they’re filled with a filling made with finely chopped almonds. Perfect for an afternoon snack with tea or expresso, or alongside some gelato (or ice cream) for an elegant and totally simple dessert.
While I’ve seen panettone in many specialty stores in New York, especially around the holidays, I’ve never known what it tastes like, or what you do with it (yeah, I got it — eat it). Here’s the low-down from the Emporio Rulli website: “Panettone Milanese is a traditional Italian sweet bread originating in the 16th century from Milan. The knowledge and technique used in making the panettone has been passed down from panettone maestri to their apprentices for centuries. Chef Rulli carries on this time honored tradition and that’s why here, at Emporio Rulli, we are so proud to uphold the original artisan version.”
Made with quality ingredients, it’s a light, buttery sweet bread, studded with raisins, candied orange and citrus peel. One morning, just before Christmas, I decided to cut into it. Still not sure what to do with it (and it was too early and I was too lazy/caffeine-deprived to Google it), I just sliced it up and popped it into the toaster. Slathered with some good butter, it was delicious! So good, that I went back for another piece. And by the way, Earl Grey tea is a perfect accompaniment.
Now that the tea has done its work, and I’m working on this post, I see that Chef Rulli suggests any leftover (fat chance) panettone is great for bread pudding (ditto fat chance) or an Italian version of French Toast (more likely, and gets total raves online). If you’d like to try it and are around San Francisco, go and treat yourself or you can order it online. It may be too late for Christmas, but trust me, it would make a great New Year’s Day breakfast/brunch (and don’t forget the Cialde wafers)!
My thanks to Deb and Chef Rulli for introducing me to these great treats and a new holiday tradition!