Thursday, October 27, 2011
Pustie Vs. Pustie. Can Our Local Pusties Stand Up to Utica Pusties?
As you may know, I have something of a soft spot in my heart for the jewel of Central NY. I am, of course, speaking of the plucky city of Utica. If you will remember during my last trip I partook of the Utican pastry specialty that is the Pustie. A pustie is a local varient of the Italian pastry pasticciotto (wiki translated from the Italian) and consists of custard encased in crust.
Now, you can get pusties at pretty much any Italian bakery throughout the state but only in the greater Utica/Rome area are they revered as a local treasure. It occurred to me the other day to see how one of our own, local (Capital Region) pasticciotto (they don't even really call them pusties 'round these parts) stacked up against a serious example of a Utica/Rome pustie.
For the Central New York contender let us take the offering from the Franklin Hotel in Rome. The Franklin is a must visit if you are out that way, have the Utica Greens and a plate of fried hot peppers with some crusty bread. You must trust me on this, it will become your favorite lunch and you will crave it daily. They also have have a decent selection of house baked goods and pictured above is a lovely boxful of vanilla and lemon pusties.
Here is a Franklin pustie with its guts exposed.
The vaguely nipple-esque pustie is a piece of art, what with its shiny browness and hearty proportions. Richly sweet custard with a beautiful vanilla flavor encased in a buttery, flaky, tender crust. I am not big into over sweetened fruit pastries or cream filled, powder sugar doused thingies so the understated sweetness of the pustie is a perfect fit for my sensibilities.
Now we have the pasticciotto from Bella Napoli in Latham.
Hrrrm... looks a little pale. Looks a wee bit crumbly and not very shiny. No appealing nipple thing on the top either. I will have to admit that I was a bit suspicious, but I did not pass immediate judgement.
Here we have her cracked open.
With the Bella Napoli offerin you have a sort of grainy, crumbly, sweetened pastry. It is less like a pie crust and more like a sugar cookie. Breaking one of these in half (to devour greedily) while driving home from the bakery results in many crumbs all over your belly and lap. The custard is not rich and creamy like you would expect it to be and you have here only a hint of vanilla.
So there you have it. As I expected the art of the pustie is significantly more refined in the true pustie country of Oneida County. Not that our local ones are bad, but you are sort of ruined for inferior pusties once you have had the real deal in its own terroir.
So there you have it, as expected the heavy weight favorite pummels the local boy.