Italian Pastry Inspiration! Desserts & Wine of La Dolce Vita..

December 16th, 2015

“La Dolce Vita,” we all dream of the SWEET LIFE – here at Sweet Cheeks Baking Co., we LIVE IT daily!  Woo hoo!

Our Classic Sicilian Cannoli from Grandma Palminteri's recipe vault...

Our Classic Sicilian Cannoli from Grandma Palminteri’s recipe vault… photo by TRUE Photography

Fortunately, we have an incredible team who can cover each other’s positions when we need a break… so when 3 of us decided, all in 2015, that we were going to Italy, we had to figure it out. Donna’s 40th birthday, my 10 year wedding anniversary, and Krista’s HONEYMOON – what a whirlwind of shared Italian fun, romance, history, wine, & pastry!

So honestly… who WOULDN’T be inspired by this grandeur???

Cinque Terre Vetua Vineyard grapes(59)

Many people know that I teach wine classes – Donna & I have taught wine + dessert classes at Disneyland’s Food & Wine Festivals, here in San Diego at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, at the Prado Food & Wine School, of course in our Sweet Cheeks Baking Co. kitchen, and for years I’ve taught to restaurants as well as private individuals.  So i would be remiss not to give you some tips and “How to Pair wine with Dessert” ideas from Italy…

An oldie of us after teaching our Disneyland class

An oldie of us after teaching our Disneyland class

Here are some of my TOP SUGGESTED WINE PAIRING DESSERTS:

:: Shortbread cookies – lemon shortbread with Silver Tequila; almond with Amaretto; Bergamot with St. Germain

:: Biscotti – classically with Vin Santo of Tuscany, they are also delizioso with Banfi’s “Florus” Moscadello di Montalcino!

:: Presidential Pecan Diamonds (from Sweet Cheeks) – insanely good with Bourbon or Rye drinks

:: Flourless Chocolate Cake or other dark chocolate treats with little to no icing – Ruby Port or Dessert Reds

:: Coconut Cake (unsweetened coconut is ideal) – Rum mixed with yummy coconut milk

OOOH, talking about all that was indeed something shiny!

Anyway, back to glorious Italia, my husband & I rented a cool little apartment in Cinque Terre, selected in part (via Trip Advisor) because the owner also owns a vineyard & winery, called Vetua and makes fantastic white Cinque Terre & Sciacchetra wines!  Incredibly, they dry grapes for the Sciacchetra dessert wines right in the MIDDLE OF THE LIVING ROOMS, closets, kitchens, wherever they can find space to let these grapes dry with the right climate…fantastic!!!

Beautiful grapes drying for $$$ Sciacchetra wine

Beautiful grapes drying for $$$ Sciacchetra wine

 

Grapes drying in the middle of the house

Grapes drying in the middle of the house

So speaking of DESSERT WINE, let’s discuss what we’d pair, along with cheese and cigars, with such luxurious delights:  traditional Italian biscotti, (or, as we call them, cookies) and my favorites, the “Brutti ma Buoni” (ugly but good – oh come on, names don’t get any better than that!) are some of the most PERFECT PAIRINGS with white dessert wines.

Brutti ma Buoni cookie photo courtesy of https://breadcakesandale.wordpress.com/

Brutti ma Buoni cookie photo courtesy of https://breadcakesandale.wordpress.com/

“Yes, please, I’ll take one of everything in this case!”

Classic & divine pastries at Linari Pasticceria in old Testaccio neighborhood, Roma

Classic & divine pastries at Linari Pasticceria in old Testaccio neighborhood, Roma

What fun Donna, Krista, & I had sharing our best Italian spots:

:: restaurants (Ristorante Sor’Eva in Trastevere — home to our wonderful new Italian friends Vincenzo & Paolo, and  Imago at the Hassler Roma Hotel, owned & operated by the dashing Dott. Roberto Wirth)

:: Vespa Tours (grazie to the amazing team, Michele & Valerio at Dearoma Tours)

:: delicious pastries (check out old Testaccio neighborhood in Roma for Linari Pasticceria!)

:: best Gelato combinations (Miele & Pistachio at Berlin Gelato in Vernazza; ahh, the famous Giolitti and crazy-enormous selection at MIRKO!)

:: glorious Italian beauty – Tuscan countrysides, Lake Garda mountains, Venice’s secret alleyways, and Rome’s art history

Flaming custard, Italian style for Donna

Flaming custard, Italian style for Donna

Ice-cream, Ice-cream, everywhere!!!  Italians are famous for their delicious GELATO, and nearly every street corner in the cities houses a “gelateria,” so you can’t miss ’em.

Giolitti Gelato, Rome pics (45)

Many hands scooping at the famous Giolitti

 

A toast to the Italian countryside!

Mirko, since 1988, serves nearly 100 flavors daily in Sirmione!

Mirko, since 1988, serves nearly 100 flavors daily in Sirmione!

 

silly honeymooners love gelato

silly honeymooners love gelato

Inspiration abounds in Europe, especially in Italianate design – ceilings, arches, paintings, statues, masks, and rolling olive groves, all give us grace and show us incredible opportunity for creating our own cake & pastry art…here’s the stunning carved ceiling in the Hotel Danieli’s lobby in Venice!

Inspiration for cake design!

Inspiration for cake design!

Even the Venetian animal masks are ready for a snack (see the hidden sign)

Even the Venetian animal masks are ready for a snack (see the hidden sign)

Venice is a treasure trove of cookies, gelato, pastries, coffee, and of course PROSECCO!!!  Cafes on Saint Mark’s Square offer free orchestras, jazz musicians, and performers to entice the tourists.

Cafes attract Prosecco + pastry-loving tourists

Cafes attract Prosecco + pastry-loving tourists

An after dinner drink, or “digestivo” (“to digest;” vs. the more common term “aperitivo” which “opens” the meal) are delicious with a classic treat of Tiramisu, especially when the amazing restaurant Sor’ Eva sends it out ON THE HOUSE – woo hoo!!! Grazie!

Tiramisu at Sor'Eva Restaurant, our favorite local spot in Rome.

Tiramisu at Sor’Eva Restaurant, our favorite local spot in Rome.

Honeymooners, birthday celebrants, and anniversary lovers alike will all love a dessert journey through Italy!  Thoughtful and romantic, those Italians sure know how to steal our hearts…

An anniversary pastry heart from the kitchen at Sor'Eva!

An anniversary pastry heart from the kitchen at Sor’Eva!

Make it happen, take the time, relish life:

Krista & Mike's morning caffe with heart-shaped donuts...are you kidding? Amazing Italians!

Krista & Mike’s morning caffe with heart-shaped donuts…are you kidding? Amazing Italians!

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