With the approach of Easter, we look forward to time with family, a return to traditions, and seasonal treats. At this time of year panettone are formed into the shape of a symbolic dove and we all love and enjoy our “Colombe di Pasqua.” Are you ready for Easter this year? If not we’d like to introduce you to Nicola Fiasconaro, our Italian ‘cake boss’!
Here he can be seen proudly slicing a giant size panettone that won the Guinness World Record for the biggest Panettone in 2005, as well as various mega ‘colombe’ at various food shows around the globe. Not a small feat considering the delicate nature of panettone. Nicola’s insistance on the importance of natural leavening, using no chemicals or enhancers, requires a rising time of 36 hours in his artisan style as opposed to just 10-15 hours in a more commercial bakery.
This extra leavening time produces an extremely light, fluffy and ‘clean’ product that is impeccable in texture, taste and aroma. We wouldn’t even be able to list the amount of awards this man has won for Fiasconaro of Italy, a family business of 3 generations, that includes 3 brother’s Martino & Fausto & Nicola.
But the Easter season is serious business in Italy, a holiday seemingly more celebrated than even Christmas, each package is wrapped by hand in a typical Italian style, lovely colored cellophane with ribbons and bows that are a pleasure to give and receive during the holidays.
A GIFT FIT FOR A …POPE! In 2011 Nicola Fiasconaro greeted Pope Benedetto XVI with a Colomba di Pasqua Fiasconaro! A fitting event considering that Nicola, aficionado and supporter of Sicily’s local agriculture, works especially diligently with manna. The famous manna (of manna from heaven fame) is collected from the ash trees in the Madonie hills surrounding Castelbuono and is used in many of Nicola’s confections.
Fiasconaro has garnered incredible respect in the industry for taking a non regional product (Panettone is Milanese) and marrying it with the local products for which Sicily is so famous. Pistachio’s from Bronte, almonds d’Avola, honey, oranges, figs, currants and candied fruit.
But it was his study and development and use of the sweetness and health benefits of manna that got the attention of the world, or should we say, the universe! Word of his confections reached NASA, and after diligent inspection and microbiological analysis it was approved and loaded onto the Space Shuttle Discovey so the astronauts could enjoy a Fiasconaro confection in outer space on the 2007 mission.
Nevertheless, aside from all the awards, appearances and world records, Fiasconaro remains a family business and a trip to Castelbuono, near Palermo is a treat for all the senses. Aside from the production facilities outside of town, Fiasconaro also has a tasting room and retail location that can be found in the historic center of town. Here is what visitors had to say via Tripadvisor.
“The unique take on panettone is due to the local speciality: manna, extracted from trees and delicately sweet. The cakes, home made ice cream and internationally exported sweet spreads are to die for. One of Sicily’s greatest pleasures is to sit in the beautiful piazza eating these gorgeous sweet indulgences. Also make great presents. Highly recommended.” ~ J. Treasure, London, UK
“The Fiasconaro brothers, are top notch Sicilian pastry chefs that make panettone, and colombe of Italian excellence! A visit to Castelbuono means you must taste their specialties, at this time of year especially. They serve it topped with a creamy pistachio, or almond cream or coffee cream…. all excellent” ~ Marcello, Italy
“I arrived in Castelbuono and learned about the famous Fiasconaro, famous for artisinal panettone that have nothing to envy to those of Milan. Local delights include all kinds of : liquor, panettone covered in cream with pistachio, almonds, nougat, manna. What can I say? The next day I bought a ton of lovely things and I can’t wait to go back!” ~Giovidigi, Naples, Italy
Luckily you don’t have to travel all the way to Italy to get a taste of these delectable cakes and confections. We have been busy shipping to stores all throughout Ontario and across Canada. Use our product locator to find a store near you or leave a comment or email if you’d like to know where you can find Fiasconaro near you.
Auguri per una Buona Pasqua a tutti! Happy Easter everyone!