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May 20, 2007 08:29 AM

Almost sfogliatelle--Berkeley Farmer's Mkt

My daughter and I stopped at the Berkeley Farmer's Market Saturday, something I rarely do because of parking. She was on a quest for Blue Bottle Coffee and right next to that stand was the Frog Hollow stand. She wanted a Meyer lemon tart and I tried the risotto tart. It tasted like my favorite ever, my long-lamented-and-sought-after childhood Papa Litto treat from South Philly: a sfogliatelle. Of course, the pastry enclosure was different, more tender flaky tart crust than chewy ribbon (that's so much fun to unwrap) but the innards tasted super similar. I was, briefly, in heaven.

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  1. Hmmm ... I'll have to revisit Frog Hollow's risotto tart in terms of a sfogliatelle type filling. When I tried it I was comparing it to the classic risotto tart at Emporio Rulli ... which if you haven't tried you must ... it will stir up all sort of repressed East Coast Italian Bakery memories.

    I assume that Sfoglia in Petaluma is on your list when in that area.

    11 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      I'm never in the Petaluma area--I work too much in Oakland and rarely take a drive. Almost all sfogliatelle on this coast come frozen from New York. At least twice I was told they were made on site and later, when I came back and asked a waitress rather than an owner, was told they came in frozen.

      If Emporio Rulli's risotto tarts are more like sfogliatelle's semolina filling, I'll do a tarantella.

      1. re: lintygmom

        Where do they fill sfogliatelle with semolina? I've only had them filled with ricotta.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Sfogliatelle filling traditionally has ricotta bound with semolina flour. If it were just ricotta it wouldn't hold together in the dense, delicious ball it is. It would be more like ricotta filling for cannoli. Though the risotto tart here was very like sfogliatelle in taste, the lumpy little bits of rice marked it down a bit in my heart.

          Sfogliatelle and strong Italian coffee are my favorite things in the whole world. I'd live on them and vitamin pills happily.

          1. re: lintygmom

            The ones I had in Italy didn't hold together, so they were kind of messy to eat. Looking at recipes online I see that the semolina-thickened filling's common too.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              The ones I had in Italy and in South Philly growing up were all thickened so you could peel the pastry off in a ribbon and not have the filling fall out--that was the point to eating them as a child--to unwind it. I think that's the charm for Italian children too and contributes to the charm of their scallop shell shape. Later I loved the taste.

              1. re: lintygmom

                I've never thought to unwind the pastry ... now I have an uncontrolable urge to do that.

                Anyone know where the great info and recipe you posted went? When I saw it I assumed it would get moved to Home Cooking or the General board, but I'm not finding it.

                1. re: rworange

                  Here it is:

                  You start with the little nub at the tip and carefully pull it away around and around.

                  If you actually make them (and DO NOT use butter--wrong taste! If not lard, oil?) I WANT SOME.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                Campania is the area most known for sfogliatelle and there are two kinds of pastry and two kinds of filling:

                Pastry comes in the more familiar thin rolled around filo like that looks like scallop ridges and in a thicker round short pastry. They each have a different name in Italian and one is frolla, but I always forget which is which and just point. In Naples they are always filled with ricotta and various types of candied citrus. In the Amalfi coast they are filled with a semolina pudding.

                1. re: Amy G

                  Well, old Mr. Litto must have been combining them! I do remember picking little bits of citron out and throwing them in the gutter when my mother wasn't looking.

                  Either way, I adore them.

                  1. re: Amy G

                    I found an Italian recipe for sfogliatelle from Naples (in Italian)--they add semolina to the ricotta filling, probably to make it stay together. That's really what I remember from the olden days.


                    translated into something asymptotically approaching English:


          2. Well, I am currently living in New Haven, CT, but am going to be moving to the Bay Area in a couple months. Does this mean I should horde all the sfogliatelles I can before I leave? Now, New Haven is no New York City, but there are a few little bakeries in walking distance that I adore, and they more than amply feed my Italian pastry cravings...

            5 Replies
            1. re: shoogirl49

              There are lots of other great pastries around here.

              Dianda doesn't make sfogliatelle?

                1. re: shoogirl49

                  Bring a box out for all of us too ... and get your pizza fix while you can ... and bagels.

                  1. re: rworange

                    I'm thinking of getting a freezer just so I can order them. Used to get them from Balducci's when they had mail order but now I'll have to try places like:



                2. Sadly, today they tasted less like sfogliatelle and more like rice pudding. But Brooks cherries are in and so are Bings and also apriums and they're all wonderful. At one stand the peaches were still warm from the sun and absolutely perfect.