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New Holiday Festival Celebrating Italian Sweet Bread to Take Place on LIC Waterfront

A new festival celebrating a popular Italian sweet bread, pictured, is scheduled to take place near the Long Island City waterfront next week (Nicola via Wikipedia CC License)

Dec. 2, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

A festival celebrating a popular Italian bread is scheduled to kick off near the Long Island City waterfront next week.

The festival will offer residents a chance to savor a traditional dessert known as “panettone,” a large dome-shaped bread usually served during the festive season. The bread is an Italian favorite made with flour, batter, sugar, raisins and candied fruit.

The free event, called the New York Panettone Festival, will take place outside the upcoming Santa Chiara Café, located on the ground floor of 52-41 Center Blvd. – a 44-story residential building at Hunters Point South.

It will run from Dec. 9 through Dec. 12, and from Dec. 16 through Dec. 19.

Some of the world’s best pastry chefs will be on hand to serve different variations of the bread – to the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, according to Cristiano Rossi, an Italian immigrant who is organizing the festival and owns Santa Chiara Café. The café is expected to open later this month.

Rossi said he is very passionate about panettone and wants to showcase it to the Long Island City community.

“Once you taste panettone you will fall in love with it,” Rossi said.

Around a dozen wooden booths will be set up in a line outside the premises to create a holiday market vibe, Rossi said.

Wooden booths will be placed outside 52-41 Center Blvd. A skeleton of one of the wooden structures is pictured to the right. Santa Chiaro Café is located to the right of the photo (Photo by Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

The booths will house 11 award-winning pastry chefs who will offer exclusive combinations of the famous bread. Most of the chefs are originally from Italy, Rossi said.

For instance, renowned chef Iginio Massari is known for his “Classic Milanese” panettone, which is made with sultanas and vanilla bean seeds, while chef Gennaro Esposito – who has two Michelin stars – makes his specialty panettone using apricots, according to Rossi.

Panettone can also be made with white fig and chocolate, saffron, limoncello, dark chocolate, berries and many other ingredients, Rossi said.

The bread has historically been served during the holiday season but its growing demand has seen many restaurants serve it all year round, he said. The dessert can be served with coffee, hot chocolate or prosecco and is often reheated in the oven before consumption, Rossi said.

Attendees will be offered free samples of panettone and will also be able to purchase full-sized servings from the chefs at the booths.

There will also be a booth serving Venezuelan chocolates made by award-winning chocolatiers Susana and Isabel Garcia Nevett, who are based in Miami.

Other booths will offer attendees Lavazza coffee, specialty cookies for dogs and a range of wines.

Rossi said that he hopes the festival will turn into an annual event and will help promote the local neighborhood.

“Long Island City has the best views of Manhattan and is becoming the new heart of New York City. The water and the amazing park also make it a fantastic location.”

The opening hours of the festival are as follows:
Dec. 9 and Dec. 10 –  noon to 7 p.m.
Dec. 11 and Dec. 12 – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Dec. 16 and Dec. 17 –  noon to 7 p.m.
Dec. 18 and Dec. 19 – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The New York Panettone Festival will take place in the courtyard area outside 52-41 Center Blvd., pictured (Photo provided by Cristiano Rossi)

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