I Am Speechless after Breakfast in Palermo

Latte and croissant
In Sicily, fresh-baked croissants and steamed latte await!
Croissant with pistachio butter filling.
Pistachio butter, a specialty from Sicily, is peerless.

I happen to like my milk with coffee. In other words, in the morning, I prefer a large cup of steamed milk with one shot of espresso. What I learned today is that this, what we in the United States call a latte, Italians call a latte macchiato. Macchiato I know. I often enjoy a macchiato–an espresso with a little bit of steamed milk on top–in the afternoon when I need a pick-me-up during the work day. But in the morning, I like what I now know is called a latte macchiato, pictured here.

When in Italy, along with a latte macchiato for breakfast I sometimes treat myself to a cornetto, or what we Americans know as a croissant. Usually I like mine filled with marmellata di arance, or orange jam, which in Sicily is made from fresh-picked oranges in the late winter and early spring. But today, I thought I’d try something different. And boy, did it take my breath away!

Sicily is famous for its pistachios, and those from the foothills of Mount Etna, known as Pistacchio di Bronte, are especially coveted (They have DOP status, which means they are recognized as coming from this particular region of Europe where they are cultivated following a very specific tradition and no other pistachio can claim such distinction.). So when I asked at the bar what fillings where available for my cornetto and the barista offered me crema di pistacchio (pictured in the second image), I knew I was in for something special.

In English, crema di pistacchio is translated to mean pistachio butter. You might compare it to a very creamy nut butter like almond or peanut butter, but made from pistachios and so much smoother. It is a sage-green color with a thick, whipped, creamy texture. It’s very sweet (defiantly so, like many Sicilian sweets) with a nutty, salty overtone. Important to note, is that this is an artisinal product, difficult to find outside of Sicily. In sum, I think of it as green gold!

Now, I’ve had crema di pistacchio before, in fact, I have a jar from Castelbuono in my cupboard back in New York City, but I have never had it injected into a fresh-baked, still-warm croissant immediately after I ordered it! I wish I could say I was speechless (because I am)… but then I wouldn’t have been able to share this experience with you.

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