A WOMAN shopping at DeLaurenti Food & Wine bursts into tears when she discovers a familiar package of chocolate cookies on the shelf. Made in Italy and decorated with tiny white stars, they are called Pan di Stelle. She craved them when she was pregnant. They remind her of home.
The staff hears stories like that all the time, say Pat McCarthy and Matt Snyder, proprietors since 2001 of this Pike Place Market mainstay that began as Pete’s Italian Market in 1946. The stories reinforce their belief that food connects people to their community.
McCarthy and Snyder view themselves as stewards of a long tradition begun by the DeLaurenti family. Under their watch, the store has doubled in sales and carries a broad inventory, including more than 2,000 wines, 250 cheeses, 100 olive oils, 50 cured meats, bread from six local bakeries and “an obscene amount of chocolate.” They source from all over the world.
“You hear a lot of hand-wringing about ‘local’ today,” McCarthy says. “We have plenty of local products, but there’s a world of things that are local somewhere. We get to be the middle man between the person and the thing.”
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Furthering that mission, they recently published the “DeLaurenti Cookbook” (Documentary Media, $29.95). The recipes all have a connection to the store or to them personally. Both men like to cook, and the book is full of their opinions, like the importance of tongs and keeping salt in a bowl not a shaker.
“The book represents a crossroads for us, it captures where we are now and how we are going forward,” says Snyder.
They feel privileged to be part of people’s traditions, to see the connections over generations. As we chat in the store, a group of third-graders on a field trip wander past, then a customer juggling a brief case and a shopping basket, looking for dried fruits and nuts for her holiday baking. Though she lives in Port Orchard, she comes to DeLaurenti to buy fruitcake fixings. “It just doesn’t taste the same when we don’t,” she insists.
You won’t find a fruitcake recipe in this cookbook, but here is the McCarthy family’s recipe for biscotti.
Makes about 32 pieces
A few things to consider with this recipe:
Do not use any almonds but blanched almonds (DeLaurenti has them). This makes a medium-hard cookie. To make them harder, use fewer eggs; softer, use more eggs. This is sticky dough. Keep your hands well-floured and use a 6-inch dough scraper.
1 cup blanched whole almonds
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups granulated sugar
1½ tablespoons vanilla or anise extract
5 large eggs
5 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the almonds in one layer on a cookie/baking sheet. Toast until golden, 6 to 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.
2. In a mixer, combine the melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well, then add the toasted almonds.
3. On a hard surface dusted with flour, divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Form the dough balls into oblong loaves about 6 inches in length and transfer to 2 cookie sheets.
4. Bake the loaves for 40 minutes and remove from the oven. Let cool for 2 minutes. While the loaves are still warm, slice them crosswise into individual, equal pieces about ¾ inch thick. Place the pieces on a cookie sheet and toast until the biscotti are just golden, about 10 minutes. Turn the pieces over and bake another 8 to 10 minutes, until golden.
Providence Cicero is The Seattle Times restaurant critic. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. John Lok is a Times staff photographer.