Thursday, May 5, 2011

Last Dance with Sfogliatelle

Growing up, I thought of Italian pastry as being confined to cannoli and the somewhat flavorless biscuit-like cookies neighbors made for Christmas parties. This is probably what most people in small-town and suburban America think, while urban dwellers have access to a much wider selection at neighborhood shops or in their city’s Little Italy. Joyously, my taste buds have learned new languages and not just because of the weeks I spent in Italy. My neighborhood, Andersonville, is home to Pasticceria Natalina. Or at least it will be until May 22.

In the time of an economic downturn, people turn from extravagant luxuries (recreational space travel) to affordable ones (edible commodities). Unfortunately, that trend did not carry to my neighborhood pasticceria (“bakery” in italiano), whose prices for authentic hand-made delights should have been seen not as steep, but cheap in comparison to an international plane ticket. Here is a list of favorite items I will miss:

• Pasticceri di Cioccolato – Imagine the richness of flourless-chocolate cake only lighter, more texturally diverse and packed into a giant sandwich cookie. Hands down, the best chocolate pastry I’ve ever had.
• Crostatina Piemontese – A tart filled with rich dark chocolate and topped with hazelnuts. This place knew how to do chocolate.
• Sfogliatelle – My favorite pastry during my trip to Italy. Flaky pastry filled with sweet ricotta. Deceptively simple, but unmatched.
• Cannoli – You may believe you can already get the real thing at your favorite Italian restaurant; this one is a good litmus test.
• Baci di Dama –My aunt dubbed these “little chocolate hamburgers.” More dark chocolate between nut and spice cookies.

Leading up to their closing, Pasticceria Natalina will be doing final batches of a select group of their pastries by order only. After that, you’ll need to fly to Sicily.

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