On a grey wet afternoon, I arrived to Lama dei Peligni on a mission: to taste one of famous Abruzzo desserts the authentic local sfogliatella di Lama dei Peligni, or “sfuiatell” in the local dialect. There are many imitations of this delicious pastry in Abruzzo, but to find the real deal you have to go to the village.
Traditionally, sfogliatelle, shell-shaped pastries filled with cream, came from Napoli. However, at the end of the 19th century Donna Anna Guglielmo-Tabassi, the baroness of Lama dei Peligni, decided to adapt the famous pastry using only the ingredients from the area with spectacular results. However, the recipe was kept secret for a long time and only about 50 years ago it became public. I love the delicate crunchy shell of the pastry and the rich filling made with grape jam, amarena cherries, grape must, walnuts and cacao. It is not a treat for vegetarians, though, as before baking the dough is often smothered generously in lard. It gives the pastry a beautiful golden colour and, I reckon, makes it more addictive. Eating one just never seems enough!
Every year the village organises a sfogliatella di Lama dei Peligni competition among the locals where the best among the best (“La più buona fra le buone”, as the festival’s posters declare) pastries is chosen and the winner gets a trophy, a silver sfogliatella.
There are a few bars, cafés and pasticcerie in the village and each of them makes their own version of the sfogliatella. I tried one in the bar Diamonds near the central piazza. It was generously dusted with icing sugar, tasty but sweeter than I expected. Then I bought another sfogliatella (one is never enough!) from a swanky pasticceria I Segreti di Donna Anna and it was perfect: crispy layered pastry, a delicious filling with a slightly sour note of the amarena cherries. Exactly the way I wanted it!
Rain didn’t stop the locals from celebrating the festival of sfogliatella: benches were lined up in the piazza, folk music was playing and a few men, well into their 80s, whirled a few young ladies around.
I Segreti di Donna Anna, Via della Resistenza, 6
Pasticceria di Emilia Pasquale, Via Frentana, 120