We are opening from 11am-4pm, Sunday 17th December

Perfect for present shopping or to scope out your Christmas cheese-board.

Italian cakes to sweeten the whole Christmas season

Pandoro, Panettone or Panforte?What the dang are these cakes and why should I care?

Have you had your first mince pie yet? Ever thought of trying something different? Italians crack open their Christmas cakes well before the big day, much as with our mince pies. They’ll be gifting their Pandoro, Panettone and Panforte all through December, eating generous slices of Pandoro with cafe latte for breakfast or a piece of Panettone mid-afternoon with a glass of Vin Santo.

The treats taste like cakes, but are actually classed as sweet breads (‘pane’ means bread in Italian). Pandoro and Panforte are made from dough rather than cake batter so no need to feel guilty about eating them at any time of day. They’ve become increasingly popular in UK supermarkets over the years, but if you’ve yet to try an artisanal version like the ones we stock in Amaretto then do give it a shot – they are quite different to the mass produced versions. Crafted with picky customers in mind, they have to stand out amongst a very crowded Italian market so they really are something special. But which to choose?

Pandoro: a melt in the mouth classic

Our favourite of the three treats is without doubt the Pandoro (‘bread of gold’). The tall star-shaped cake is melt in the mouth, light yet in no way dry. It gets its colour from egg yolk, and its appeal lies in its simplicity. Pandoro originally hails from Verona and is a sweet lacy treat covered with icing sugar; delicious.

Panettone: shake it up

For many, the taste of Italian Christmas is the domed Panettone (large bread). The candied treat is wrapped in that brown and gold paper from Milan and can be varied (unlike Pandoro which is always plain). This year we have a variety of flavours in stock: pistachio, chocolate, Prosecco; they are all delicious. We also have a great gluten-free version.

Panforte: great for after dinner

The small round, harder discs of fruit and nuts wrapped in yellow or pink paper are Panforte (‘strong bread’). They hail from Sienna (like the light egg-white, almond and vanilla cakes Ricciarelli) but are eaten all over Italy at Christmas time, and for good reason. They  are filled with Christmasy spices and honey and are slightly chewy. Melt in the mouth sugar paper gives an extra pop; addictive. We also have a gluten-free free Panforte that is almost more delicious than the original. All in all this little cake is  great for an after dinner treat, and goes very well with Christmas spirits and wine – lovely after a cheese plate.

All of the above cakes are wrapped in card in Christmassy colours. They make a lovely addition for under the tree, to a hamper, or just to eat throughout the Yule-tide season – alongside your classic mince pie of course.

St Georges St, NUA & the Art of Instagram

We are newbies on Instagram and have been enjoying discovering all the lovely images on there. Being located just down from the NUA art school, we often have people making studies of the shop and food, whether through photography or fine art. The oil painting below has just been created by Cristina Biazetto, who shared all the different stages of painting the image on Instagram. Amazing. St George’s Street has always been a bit of a hub within this artistic part of the city and we love seeing that reflected in your images online. Please do join us if you’re on Instagram.

A post shared by Britt (@thedanishblonde) on

Maple is so last year. Why not try some birch syrup?

Know a gourmet in your life who is looking to discover something new? Have you ever tried birch syrup? Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t even heard of it. Then the North Pennine Birch company popped up on twitter, and my curiosity was piqued.

The North Pennines is an area of outstanding beauty located in the far North of England between Carlisle and Darlington and the company is the first producer of birch syrup in the UK – normally it’s produced in Russia, Alaska or Canada. Birch syrup is rarer than its famous maple counter-part, because, amongst other reasons, it is so hard to tap. This makes it something of a speciality.

North Pennine have done a splendid job of bottling this syrup; it is beautifully presented in an elegant bottle with an equally elegant design showcasing their beautiful birch trees. Pop the lid and the syrup that comes out has something of the consistency of balsamic vinegar and a subtle woodland taste, with notes of caramel. Whilst the syrup can be used for sweets, this is no maple substitute; it’s comprised of fructose rather than maple’s sucrose and has a more complex flavour which means it doesn’t taste that sugary. It’s not really for lacing over pancakes but is ideal for glazes, marinades and, (here thanks to the Alaskan websites), vodka, as well as giving a subtle infusion of the forest to cakes and autumn bakes. It’s full of vitamins and minerals (including vitamin C, potassium, manganese, thiamin and calcium); a kind of super-syrup.

Helpfully, North Pennine have a host of lovely recipes on their website, savoury and sweet – and you can order the syrup direct there too; how great to try something new and to support a fantastic and original new UK venture too. It’s a truly unique product – as the Alaskan site Birch Boy says:

“Syrup from each producer has distinctive qualities….Flavour and colour varies, depending on the type of trees, the minerals in the soil, and the different equipment and methods used. The qualities even vary from season to season and day to day.”

So why not try some out. Our favourite recipe on the North Pennine site is the marzipan almond cake with birch plums: but what do you think?

Take a look at the North Pennine Birch website; you can order a bottle direct there too. Let us know what you think if you do…

Grazie! Amaretto Deli, Norwich Receives National Award


Amaretto Deli, St Georges St, Norwich took Runner-up in the Best Deli/Café Category at the third English Italian Awards Gala Awards Ceremony in Manchester, Sunday 15th October

Owner Fabrizio Fiaschi received the certificate at a glitzy gala finale event in Manchester’s Principal Hotel on Sunday evening featuring head-judge, celebrity chef Aldo Zilli.

Amaretto Delicatessen was voted into the finals of the English Italian Awards by their customers, beating hundreds of other English businesses to arrive in the final fifteen for Best Deli/Café as well as the category Best Team. The Awards reward excellence as well as rewarding the nation’s favourite Italian establishments. This is the first time Amaretto has entered the Italian Awards, the deli beating stiff competition to reach Runner-up for Best Deli/Café category at an emotional awards event.

Hailed for being reminiscent of a classic Italian style gastronomia, the Italian Awards judges praised Amaretto Deli for the high quality of food as well as its authenticity, attention to detail and customer service, led by Fabrizio Fiaschi.

Originally from Empoli in Tuscany, Fabrizio (known to his customers as Fab) has been living in Norwich for fifteen years with his wife Katy Carr and daughter Elisa. He opened Amaretto Delicatessen eight years ago, having bought Espresso, The General Store. 

Located just down the road from the Playhouse, the deli is known for having a window stacked with home-made cakes, sandwiches, fresh pizza and lunch-time hot meals, as well as the deli’s original treats, many of which Fab sources from his contacts in Italy, including pasta, coffee, pastries, biscuits, cakes, salami, olives and cheeses. Fab also stocks many local products as a firm supporter of the local food industry and a member of local organisation Proudly Norfolk Food and Drink, saying that using high quality fresh local food is the most Italian way to cook.

Fabrizio Fiaschi says:

“Amaretto Delicatessen is delighted to have won Runner-Up for Best Deli in this national award. I’d like to thank my fantastic staff who work so hard, all the customers who voted for us to get us to the finals in the first place, as well as the organisers and judges of The English Italian Awards. We feel truly honoured.”

Come and try some of Amaretto Deli’s Christmas treats for free at the Amaretto Deli Christmas Fine Food Tasting, Saturday 18th November, 2-4pm, Amaretto Deli, 16 St Georges’ Street, Norwich, NR3 1BA Facebook @AmarettoDeli, Twitter @AmarettoDeli Instagram @AmarettoDeli,,

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Editor’s Notes

Please contact Katy Carr (07919 312155), for any further information or more photos.

More about Amaretto Delicatessen

More about The English Italian Awards

@ItalianAwards #amarettodeli