Ethically-produced Piedmontese hazelnuts suspended in sweetly spiced caramel
The beady-eyed and sweet-toothed among you may have spotted the hazelnut and vanilla brittle gelato that made a brief appearance at 3Bis Gelateria earlier this year. You may have sampled it. You may have missed it. If that’s you (and even if it’s not, to be honest) you need to make your way to Food and Forest. They’re the ones who originally supplied Gelateria 3BIS with the brittle, and now they’re selling it—sans gelato, but with all the intensely nutty, crunchy, warming sweetness that made 3BIS’ gelato such a hit offering.
There’s a dash of festive cinnamon, the heady aromatics of vanilla, and hazelnuts sourced from a tiny supplier in Piedmont, Italy. His farm’s been in the family for three generations, but only recently has he converted to agroforestry. “I couldn’t believe it when I got there,” says Charles, the founder of Food and Forest. “I was actually quite worried, driving down this tiny country lane. Would he be able to answer emails? How would he cope with big orders?” The answer, it turned out, lay in the producer’s past business experience with a large, well-known chocolate producer based locally.
“He is very efficient, and very professional, but he’s not so organised he’s frozen,” says Charles. “I felt a real connection, visiting his farm.” It transpired the reason he turned away from the chocolate factory was that he didn’t like the way they treated him and the rest of the workforce.
Creamy, fruity, delicious
Now he works with his family, growing tonda gentiles—a variety of hazelnut with PGI certification, unique to the area of Piedmont. They’re a treat in their own right—creamy, slightly fruity, delicious—but bound up in a weave of caramel, vanilla and cinnamon, they become something even better: the spirit of Christmas made shiny, sugary and hard.