Put your phone down and look around. As I stood at the bar at Don Gino enjoying my caffè macchiato and observing the comings and goings of the moment, I noticed across the pasticceria a tasting happening. The baker (pictured) had appeared from the kitchen and asked the cashier to come taste her new colomba (aka Easter panettone) recipe. I could see from where I was that it was pistachio, my favorite. Not only that, but although a delicacy traditionally from Northern Italy and not typically Sicilian, I’m very serious about my appreciation panettone. This is something I spend a lot of money on during the holidays. The price point makes a big difference in the quality and taste. It’s worth spending more than $25 for it in New York. I have been known to spend $40 for “the one” at Christmastime. The same is true for its lesser-known Easter sibling.
The cashier at Don Gino, who knows me as Evelina’s cousin from New York, saw my curious eyes across the room. I did the Italian “tasting/eating” hand gesture, and she waved me over with a smile. Yup. I was invited for my opinion on this new creation! Knowing Don Gino’s pastries very well (maybe too well!), I was not surprised at how outstanding this was. The bread itself was light and airy and cloud-like as it should be. It was perfectly not too sweet with the right amount of moisture (It melted in my mouth but kept its integrity.). What made this colombo/panettone amazing was the combination of the sweet pistachio glaze with the crushed nuts settled into the smothered coating in concert with this cloud of perfect-on-the-tongue bread.
Wow. Grazie! What fun. So, be present and put your phone down. If I hadn’t left it in my pocket, I would have missed the whole thing.