Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Eleventh Day: Pandoro instead of Pipers

For whatever reason, panettone (a cake with little pieces of dried fruit scattered throughout the batter) shows up in displays all over the place in this city at Christmastime. Well, maybe not all over the place. That would be overstatement. I haven't seen it in Superlo or Kroger or in lots of other places. But in the stores that are likely to carry an imported cake from Italy, panettone is what appears on the shelves.

And you'd think I'd be excited about a cake imported from Italy. But, no. Panettone does not appeal to me in the least. I can't stand the little dried fruit pieces, and they ruin the whole thing, at least for my taste. Obviously, others have a different subjective experience. Or else a whole lot of panettone is being bought and given and not eaten. I don't know.

Another cake was always on the shelves in Italy, though. Pandoro, literally "bread of gold" (pane di oro.) I liked it so much, I tied one to my backpack and carried it all the way home the first time I went home for Christmas. The customs officers looked at me funny, but it was worth it.

A shop called Mantia's used to carry pandoro, though they never had as many of them as they had panettone. Still, if I got there early enough in the season, I could usually find one. But Mantia's closed two or three years ago (written sadly, with a sigh), and we haven't had pandoro since then.

This year, as a shot in the dark, I asked the chef at Fratelli's if she might have any idea what pandoro was and where I could find it. I say it was a shot in the dark because, despite the Italian name of the restaurant, the owner is not Italian but from northern Europe, and I didn't know until I just now looked her up that she studied in Italy.

Anyway, my intuition must have been in good form that day, because it turned out she knew exactly where to look for pandoro. I never would have thought to try TJMaxx, but that's what she suggested. I had never even been to a TJMaxx before, but I made the drive down Summer Avenue to the closest one, and sure enough, amidst about 50 miniature boxes of panettone, they actually had four boxes of pandoro. The real size, which is enough for about ten servings.

I bought three and left one, in case someone else like me came there just in search of this golden treasure.

And so, we finally had pandoro for Christmas once again, and opened it for the first time with friends from Italy who just happened to be in town for the holidays, along with espresso from Italy.

It's another of those things that are not official Christmas presents, but something I will treasure about this particular Christmas season.

And if you want to read a funny post about panettone from someone who dislikes it perhaps even more than I do, go here. You have to read the comments for full effect.


Lucy said...

I don't like panettone either! Tom does but I'm not buying it for him,since he's probably go off it half way through and I'd have to eat it. Though it does sometimes come in the most beautiful tins which almost tempt me.

I enjoyed the link, including the thing about early music people being hairy and smelly! There's a bit in that Vikram Seth novel about musicians (forgot the name, it's 'An Equal Music' I've just checked) which seems to echo this perception...

Sheila said...

Hmmm. So I wonder who besides Tom does like panettone?

I think you would enjoy quite a lot on Pentimento's blog. Both of you are smart, creative, loving women with a good sense of humor.

Tammy said...

We thought about baking our own pandoro this year, but ended up making panettone (with chocolate chips instead of canditi). I think we overbaked it, cause it was a bit dry. Fun experiment though. Next year we will just follow you to TJMaxx. :)
Tammy S.