Blog

Retreat Yourself!

groupfinal.jpg

This past Monday we closed our doors for the day and met up at the beautiful Franklin Park Conservatory Community Garden to celebrate the 10th birthday of our beloved PV.  Our staff enjoyed a homemade breakfast accompanied by Native Cold Pressed juices and rounded out our culinary day with a gorgeous salad niçoise spread served by our neighbors Two Caterers.  

It was a much needed time to reflect on our growth and plan for our future.  Over the past ten years we've been proud of so much: great desserts, new locations, awards, but above all we are continually overwhelmed by the fantastic community we have in Columbus.  We have had the opportunity to grow relationships with many loyal customers, vendors, and staff, without whom we would not be the PV we love today.  

With our hearts and stomachs full, we toasted to the journey we've had and our enthusiasm going forward; to growth, success, and many new macaron flavors to come! 

What’s so Special about our Zagat Rating?

In 2013, Zagat named Pistacia Vera the #1 restaurant in Columbus.

This is an accomplishment that makes us exceedingly proud. Zagat is one of the premier, if not the premier, dining guides and rating systems in the world. Depending upon an international network of restaurant surveyors, Zagat uses their surveys to create yearly rankings of restaurants in most major cities and regions throughout the world. Their guide book is highly sought after, and their reviews and ratings are highly respected.

And these reviews determined that we were #1. We received high marks (based on a 30-point scale) on everything from food to décor to service.

Moreover, the Zagat editors used their surveyors’ reviews to create the following synopsis of our restaurant:

“Masterful desserts” like “true” French macrons and “amazing” tarts have “found a home” in German Village at this “spectacular”, “tastefully modern” “boutique bakery” that easily rivals the “best” anywhere, “including Paris and Lyon”; “clean, bright” and “hip”, it’s not limited to sweets either, because “Provençal-baked eggs” and other specialties make it an “excellent” if “overlooked” brunch and lunch destination; P.S. closes at 7 PM.”

Why all the quotation marks? These are the words that Zagat reviewers actually wrote about Pistacia Vera. They are direct quotes, taken right from the words of our customers.

Thus, what makes us so proud about our Zagat rating isn’t just the numbers themselves; it’s that the people who visited us, who came to our store and tasted our food, experienced everything that we strive for from the pre-dawn moment that we fire up the ovens to the quiet evening hours when we close the doors.

This is something that makes us exceedingly proud too.

It's not a batch, it's a book

Croissants are one of the most ubiquitous pastries in the United States.

PV18web.jpg

Most of us aren’t too intimidated when we see a croissant in front of us. The French word doesn’t trip us up, even if we use (like most of us do) a hard “r” to say “crrrrroissant” instead of the French “kwahssonh.” These pastries typically aren’t alien and strange to us either. Grocery stores even carry prepackaged boxes of croissants on their shelves.

At best, some of these croissants are merely passable. They might have a marginally good flavor, but they don’t take you to “that next level” like an excellent pastry should. Because truly excellent croissants (like the ones we make at Pistacia Vera) have flaky, buttery layers that straddle the divide between density and lightness. In fact, they are both dense and light. Filled both with near-infinite folds and an airy fluffiness.

Their deliciousness derives from both their flavor and their texture.

We create these light and airy and dense folds before we even separate the dough into individual croissants. We spread the dough thin, we add a sheet of butter to the center, and then we fold it like an envelope. Through the sheeter (a large contraption that both spreads the dough and retains its layers) the dough goes, once, twice, and once more. And what we call this dough reflects these many layers. Because batches of croissant dough aren’t called batches.

They’re called books.

And they’re not just any books either. These are books that take you a good long while to read. Think Anna Karenina, Ulysses, The Brothers Karamazov. Classics filled with thousands of pages, just as croissants are classic pastries filled with thousands of layers.

If you stop by Pistacia Vera for one of our croissants (including our savory ham and cheese or rye croissants), you’re sure to appreciate the many layers that comprise these familiar yet incredible pastries.

And now, you can appreciate that each one came from a many-layered book. 

Searching for the Perfect Macaron Filling

One might think that creating one of the fillings for our macarons is as easy as adding chocolate + peanut butter or caramel + pecan.

To be clear, sometimes the general ideas for each pairing are rather simple. Mint and chocolate are a classic. Chocolate and cherries are rich and delicious. Mocha and hazelnut are like long lost sisters.

Creating each individual filling—one that perfectly complements the flavor and texture of each macaron shell—is quite another story, however.

Like everything we make, our standards are high, our process painstaking.

We want certain flavors to weave in and through each macaron. The pistachio macaron, for instance, has both almond and pistachio meals in the shells, pistachio paste in the filling. The flavor isn’t overwhelming, yet there is a common theme throughout each and every bite.

We also want each filling to balance out the crunch and chewiness of the outer and inner shells of our mararons. Sometimes, this balance requires ganache. Other times, it requires housemade fruit preserves. Even other times, it requires buttercreams or curds.

It always requires something amazing.

And searching for this perfect filling takes time. It takes a bit of that painstaking process that’s always whirring in our kitchen.

20101005-_MG_2904Edt.jpg

Take, for example, our recent search for a more perfect filling for our pumpkin walnut macaron.

Emily, our kitchen manager, concocted a pumpkin mousseline, a decadent mix somewhere between a pastry cream and a buttercream.

It sounded perfect. And it certainly was delicious. But the mousseline wasn’t quite right.

Delicious wasn’t good enough: it needed to be exceptional. It needed to offer up a flawless, texture- and taste-perfect complement to the two shells between which it would be spread.

The challenge, as Emily described it, was the liquid from the pumpkin puree.  Too much liquid threatened to overpower the macaron shells. Too little pumpkin, however, threatened the very flavor of the mousseline filling.

So Emily moved on. She prepared a pumpkin pastry cream. She added one meticulously measured dollop of pumpkin at a time, waiting to find just the right pop of flavor. She added pumpkin pie spice, hoping to discover just the taste she was imagining.

Throughout the process, her fellow pastry chefs checked in to ask, “How is your pumpkin mousseline? How is the new batch of pastry cream coming along?” It sounded like friends inquiring about the status of each other’s families.

In many ways, this process is a lot like creating a family of desserts that we end up sharing with our customers.

And at this particular time, it was a process that ended in a truly exceptional and perfect filling for our pumpkin walnut macarons. 

Announcing our New North Market Location

Though our pastry technique hails from Europe, we are still a quintessentially hometown patisserie. Just like our store, our hearts are rooted right here in Columbus. And few things are more quintessentially Columbus than the North Market.

This is why we are so pleased to announce that Pistacia Vera will be opening our own shop in the North Market early December.

north-market-web.jpg

Though the setting is new, you’ll still be able to enjoy the same signature pastries and confections and our excellent selection of coffee. The macarons, the croissants, the jars of homemade preserves and the piping hot cups of our special coffee blend: they’ll all be there. And we believe that they will all pair well with the charming bustle of the market.

More than that—and perhaps better yet—we believe that our own Pistacia Vera will blend perfectly with the greater North Market family of shop owners.

Look for our new North Market shop in the northwest corner of the market next to the Fish Guys.

Or if you’re in the neighborhood, you can still join us every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at our location in the historic German village.