Almost enitely surrounded by the Industrial sprawl of nearby Florence, the Tuscan town of Prato has many significant and beautiful buildings located within it's medieval heart. But to my mind the most significant building of all that of "Antonio Mattei", for this is the home of the famous Tuscan "Biscotti de Prato" or "Cantucci" as they are know locally.
Established in 1858 by Antonio Mattei, the interior of the store with it's marble bench tops and wooden shelves holding rows of neat blue packets of biscotti, still feels like it is of this period. I love this store, the smell of baking eggs, sugar, almonds and hazelnuts filling the streets around the store are remembrances that will remain with me for ever. The 19th century Italian cookbook author Pellegrino Artusi had this to say about the original Mattei
"Letters and science aren't always necessary to win public esteem; even a very humble art, accompanied by a kind heart and practiced with skill and decorum, can make us worthy of the respect and love of our fellow men"
Considering that Artusi used his fortune to publish his great Italian cookbook, "La scienza in cucina e l'arte di mangiar bene (The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well)", a work of art and science, this is a beautiful eulogy for his friend and demonstrate just how unique the products from this store are. It is a great credit Pandolfini family that have ran the store for generations, that the products are still so good today.
Egg yellow cantucci ready to be dipped into Vin Santo or expresso.
Hazelnut rich Brutti e buoni.
Schiacciata con l'uva.