Autumn-winter preview at Pasticceria Natalina

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Last night Natalie and Nick Zarzour hosted a preview of some fall and winter items they'll be rolling out at Pasticceria Natalina. My eyes glazed over at the sight of the counters laden with old favorites and new cookies, tarts, cakes, and candies, all unprotected by glass and available for the scarfing. I might have indiscriminately plowed through them all had I not been stopped dead by a powerfully dislocating first bite. In my delirium I had reached for something vaguely familiar--a rough, white chunk dipped in dark chocolate that I fully expected to be one of Natalie's sweet, boozy confections, maybe marzipan or coconut. But no, my teeth broke through the robe of dark chocolate into nutty, sharp paramigiano reggiano. Weird, startling, but really good.

Sobered, I was able to slow down and check out the new stuff: chocolate-dipped figs stuffed with walnuts, anise crescent cookies (cornettini al anice), chocolate clove cookes (tetu), the Chrismastime nougat favorite torrone, tiny chocolate cakes soaked in brandy and sour cherry, with a thin layer of buttercream and a candied chestnut on top (palline). Tiramisu is back from a summer hiatus and over the holidays they'll be making hazlenut, cherry, and choclate buche de noel, or tronchetto di Natale en Italiano. They'll start introducing the new stuff this week, and Natalie says more new pastries are coming soon.

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