Cafe Lago Offers Panforte Dessert All December
Candy-like nut bar is a holiday tradition at the Montlake Italian restaurant
By Julien Perry November 19, 2014
Every December for each of its 24 years, Cafe Lago has been rolling out a traditional Italian treat called Panforte. It’s pronounced pan-FOR-tay and translates to “strong bread,” but what you really need to remember is that you only have a month to taste this holiday tradition. A wonderful candy-like nut bar (calling it fruitcake would be insulting), owner Carla Leonardi’s panforte is made with almonds, hazelnuts, imported French orange peel, dried figs and sour cherries, honey, sugar, dark chocolate (a hint of bitterness to cut the sweetness), and a combination of spices that includes nutmeg, black pepper, chili powder, cinnamon and ginger. Another of its ingredients is saba, a reduction of grape must—the remnants of pressed wine grapes cooked down, with results similar to a well-aged balsamic vinegar, but more savory. Panforte can be eaten any time of day and pairs splendidly with espresso, port, Fernet Branca or red wine. Enjoy it by the slice ($8) or order an entire cake (6 inch-diameter, $30; 9 inch, $42). Like fruitcake, it has a long shelf life; unlike fruitcake, you’ll want seconds. Dinner daily. Montlake, 2305 24th Ave. E; 206.329.8005; cafelago.com.