Tag Archives: Loison

Panettone aPlenty

This past April on a trip to VinItaly, Suzy and I snuck off for a day to indulge our sweet tooths with a tour with two of our favorite Panettone producers—Loison and Filippi. One step (or really one sniff) inside the baking facility at Loison and we knew we had made the right choice. Even during their off season, a time when there are no ovens on, no cakes baking, and no ingredients in sight, the entire factory smelled like sugar, butter, and fluffy, decadent cake. We wandered around the production line—looking at the giant (seriously huge) stand mixers where they carefully mix the panettone dough, coaxing the ingredients to combine together in just the right way to create the light, airy cakes, the enormous ovens that bake hundreds of carefully handcrafted cakes at a time, and the inventive machines that flip those cakes upside-down straight from the oven to keep their shape. If you’ve never seen the process I definitely encourage you to take a look—it’s pretty incredible. And for those of you who have ever had any doubts about whether or not the Italians are some of the most thoughtful, patient, and purposeful people on the planet take my word for it- one bite of a perfectly baked Panettone is all you need to change your mind.

In addition to the attention to detail during the baking process two other aspects of the production of the Panettone really stood out to me. The first being the pride that emanated from the bakers at both facilities as they walked us through each flavor of Panettone they were preparing to make for this holiday season (between 20-35 each) and exactly where every single ingredient in each of those cakes was sourced. Single origin chocolate drops from Domori, untreated Madagascar vanilla beans (and never any artificial flavors), free range eggs, figs from Calabria, Lemons from Sicily and fresh milk delivered every day during the baking season; each ingredient is carefully selected for it’s quality of production and taste to create the perfect marriage of flavors for each cake. As the Pastry Chefs at Filippi say “Just as in an orchestra, to create a symphony, every instrument has to be in harmony with the whole, so it does not suffice that every ingredient is good on its own. Each ingredient has to amalgamate well with all the others…” Each year they revisit the flavors of the year prior, sampling dozens of varieties of fruits, nuts, and honeys, ensuring that their cakes are always created using the just the ideal balance of flavors and ingredients.

The second aspect that the Pastry Chefs at both Loison and Filippi were quick and proud to point out is that each one of their panettone is hand wrapped in paper and tied with a bow. Out of context that may not seem like a big deal but when you think about the thousands of cakes being produced every Christmas and the intricate and precise wrapping each of these cakes is adorned with you really start to get a sense of the magnitude of this process. And the result is spectacular—3as they said at Loison “The result is a product that is more than just a baked good: it’s also a gift, a furnishing item and a piece of art.” It’s clear in speaking with them that there is no detail of the panettone making process that is overlooked and the result of all of that effort and attention to detail is the essential (and most delicious) emblem of the Christmas holiday.

Don’t just take my word for it though- come see and sample for yourself! On July 25th we’ll be celebrating Christmas in July- we’re so looking forward to the holiday season that we can’t possibly wait any longer. Stop by our market and taste samples of this year’s spectacular concoctions, see that intricate and delicate paperwork and ribbons adorning these beautiful parcels and pre-order some of your favorites.

Tour (and tasting) with two of our favorite Panettone producers Read more

This past April on a trip to VinItaly, Suzy and I snuck off for a day to indulge our sweet tooths with ...

The Easter Treats are Here

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The snow has finally melted, the sun is out until 7PM…and our Easter treats are here!

 

Our scheduled shipment from the famed pastry company Loison occurred on a particular Thursday when the federal government was shut down due to snow (yes, this always seems to happen).  When the shipment landed on our doorstep on Monday, the it seemed much more appropriate. As the sun streamed through our window we unwrapped the beautiful cakes and chocolate eggs from our friends across the ocean.

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Loison is a third generation company, which over 75 years of experience and progress. They use DOC ingredients including fresh eggs from safe farms, milk, butter and cream produced in the mountains of Italy, superfine flour, and top-grade Italian sugar. We also favor them for the sophisticated way they package their products, which evokes the style of old Italian pastry shops where no detail is too small.

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The Colombe, or traditional Easter cake, is a spongy vanilla cake with candied citrus peel, in the shape of a dove. This cake brings legendary stories…

The oldest tells of Alboin, King of the Lombards. Upon his victorious entry in Pavia in 572, on Easter Sunday, he was given a sweet bread in the shape of a dove as a tribute to peace. Another legend tells that, at the time of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, two doves rested upon the banners of the Lombard warriors infusing them with a noble spirit. But it is definitely during the time of the Spanish ruling in Milan that the dove became the Easter dessert par excellence. In 1552, a dove appeared, accompanied by an angel, over the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace)  to stop its demolition, which had been ordered by Ferrante Gonzaga for military purposes. Since then, the city’s gratitude is remembered through this delicious dove-shaped sweet bread.

 

Ah yes, Milano has remembered the wonderful dove since 1552… yet I found another story, from renowned travel guide Burt Wolf.

The Colomba is said to have originated as a result of the Battle of Legnano, which took place just after Easter in 1176.  Things were not going well for the Milanese as they defended their city against an attack by Barbarosa… until  three doves flew out of a nearby church.  The birds appear to have flown an air-support mission that dropped bad luck on Barbarosa and delivered victory to the Milanese.  The cake reminds Milan of this triumph.

 

Another triumph for Milan? The mechanization of cake production. I dug a little further and learned of Angelo Motta, a baker from Milan who wanted to make and sell panettone all year round…and thus, the dove cake.

 

But no matter what the history, the doves or the entrepreneurial baker, there is no doubt that these cakes are a delight and make a fabulous present.

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The Italian treat I remember from my youth, however, is the giant Easter egg. My Italian Grandmother sent my family one when I was in elementary school. My brother and I unwrapped it from the box and placed it, eyes bulging in awe, on the mantlepiece. Off which my mother grabbed it – and ran shrieking down the hallway! The playful chase, and game of catch, that ensued lasted in my memory far longer than the chocolate of the egg (which, to be fair, lasted a long time as well).

 

Italians traditionally do not have easter egg hunts, and so the giant easter egg is the centerpiece. Sometimes, they get quite extravagant, as this report from NPR details.

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At Via Umbria, we have them in milk chocolate and dark chocolate, with beautiful wrapping, of course. They have a prize inside as well — but you have to buy one to find out what it is!

 

So when you see the little blue Ape in the window in Georgetown, brimming with our new treats, make a stop. Come sample these springtime cakes, and share your Easter and spring traditions with us.

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— Elsa Bruno at Via Umbria

Don't forget to grab yours! Read more

The snow has finally melted, the sun is out until 7PM…and our Easter treats are here!   Our scheduled shipment from the famed pastry ...