Christmas/Natale is just around the corner and for all of us Italians and Italian Americans the season is simply not complete without panettone. It was my girlfriend Sveva who reminded me I should share and highlight the story of the Fiasconaro family and their original panettone specialties for which they have been recognized as a Sicilian excellency worldwide.
I had the pleasure of conversing with Maestro Nicola Fiasconaro for the past two weeks to unveil the ancient art and secrets of traditional Sicilian pastrymaking and learn about the origins of one of Sicily’s best kept secrets located in Castelbuono, Sicily: the Fiasconaro laboratories.
It was 1953 when Mario Fiasconaro, a baker, creates his first citrus flavored gelati using and preserving them with snow from Mt Etna or from the neighboring Nebrodi Mountains. But he also creates sfincioni, cassatelle, profiteroles and other decadent Sicilian pastries.
Until 1999, their production took place in the same small “bar/cafe'” where their story first started and in 2000 the sons, Nicola, Fausto and Martino launched their current laboratories where 100 local young people from Castelbuono are employed today (25 full time and 75 seasonal). Along with this, comes the development of a web of other laboratories sparse throughout the entire island producing and focusing on Sicilian ingredients only – such as Pistacchio, Miele/Honey, Mandorle/Almonds, Canditi Alle Arance/Dried Oranges, Manna – used in the production of Panettoni Fiasconaro.
I asked Maestro Fiasconaro to dispel his secret recipe and…..(this literally made my holiday season!) he did: a rising process of 36 hours for each panettone ! It is one of those ancient secrets used by master traditional Sicilian pastrymakers – that combined with innovative techniques and wrapping presentation allows Panettoni Fiasconaro to last longer and be more fragrant and flavorful over time.
Today, their Made in Sicily creations can be purchased in the USA, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand. If you are interested, you may visit http://www.fiasconaro.com and purchase yours today in time for Christmas/New Year’s Eve!!
On your travels to Castelbuono…..other than a visit to Castello dei Ventimiglia, la Cripta della Matrice Vecchia, la Cappella Palatina di S. Anna, la Fontana di Venere Ciprea and il Museo Naturalistico Francesco Mina Palumbo….attractions personally recommended by Maestro Fiasconaro……he invites all of you to stop at their boutique in Piazza Margherita, taste and learn about their Panettoni…..and remind him, I sent you….!
Wishing you and your families a sweet, joyful and memorable Holiday Season!