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What Happens Next?

Well, this is my last mandatory post for the DIY Food blog. I’ve had a lot of great experiences meeting interesting people, animals and foods. I didn’t realize when I got into this that by choosing to report on slow/sustainable food I was picking one of the most up-and-coming movements  in Philadelphia culture. When it comes to generating content and meeting deadlines, that’s as close as you get to a blogging-goldmine.

Here’s my top 5 posts of the semester:

1. The Crunchy Cookie That Could: Gilda Doganiero from Gilda’s Biscotti

2. Brandon McAllister on Philly’s Battle of the Homebrew Shops Contest

3. Food & Faith: A Hazon CSA in South Jersey

4. Food & Art: Foodie Comics Spice Up Food Storytelling

5. The Salem City Community Garden: Where Rural Meets Urban

As for the future of this blog, I may continue to post and loosen up the tone a little bit. Or, I may start an entirely different blog and loosen up the content a little bit. Either way, there will be loosening and there will be bloggening. I hope.

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The Crunchy Cookie That Could: Gilda Doganiero from Gilda’s Biscotti

Gilda Doganiero roasting hazelnuts at her Gilda’s Biscotti bakery in Salem, N.J..

As a Culinary Institute of America alum and pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel, Gilda Doganiero had no trouble recognizing the plight of American biscotti. All over Philadelphia, Doganiero found that even the most delicious gourmet coffees were being sold alongside an adulterated, Americanized version of the biscotti that she knew and loved. American bakeries were trying to turn this abused little biscuit into a long butter cookie—a far-stretch from its traditional Italian origins.

“They [were] just the complete opposite of what they’re supposed to be,” said Doganiero. “Real, traditional biscotti is crispy. It’s baked more than once [because] it’s supposed to be hard for dipping in coffee and tea—the Italians dip it in wine.”

Unable to ignore biscotti’s cries for help any longer, Doganiero left her job at the Four Seasons in 1996 to form Gilda’s Biscotti, a company dedicated to providing Philadelphia-area coffee shops with the real thing.

Gracing the label of many flavors of Gilda’s Biscotti is a photo of none other than Doganiero’s paternal grandmother (also named Gilda) freshly arrived in America from Italy.

In her Salem bakery—which happens to be about 450 feet from the Salem City Community Garden—Doganiero prepares her biscotti in the traditional Italian style: logs of dough are placed in the oven until almost finished baking and then cut into the classic half-oval shape. Finally, the biscuits are baked again to give them the dry crunch of an authentic biscotti. But for Doganiero, staying true to the recipe starts with ingredients.

“I try to keep the flavors that we make very traditional,” she said. Obviously, this means shying away from all those “pumpkin swirl spice” concoctions that fly off the shelves this time of year, but less obvious are the parameters for an acceptable flavor.

“Something with a dried fruit or a citrus peel or nuts that would come from that area of the Mediterranean—almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts—[is acceptable],” Doganiero explained. She explains that the traditional flavor that most people associate with biscotti is an almond anise variety that was first made in Prato, Italy.

Gilda’s Biscotti can be found in coffee shops throughout Philadelphia and South Jersey (among other places) and are great for crunching, dipping, and trying every flavor!