Nuts for pistachios

Kim Zanni aims to be a taste maker, style setter, and basically achieve world domination on the scale of Martha Stewart.
On sheer nerve and all-out passion for her product, in just four years Zanni has grown her Gelato di Babbo business from hand scoops from a pedal-powered cart on the streets of Lititz to pint placement in the freezer sections of more than 90 mid-Atlantic grocery stores.
“I’m in gourmet shops like Di Bruno Brothers, family groceries like Darrenkamp’s and Oregon Dairy, and major chains like Giant, SKH, and Whole Foods,” says the 33-year-old Warwick grad.
A summer quest for premium pistachios in Bronte, Italy ended up inspiring more than just her pistachio gelato. She’s now debuting an entirely new product line, Zanni Foods, featuring the famed nuts as well as a new twist on another one of her best-selling gelato flavors.“I went to Bronte in Sicily because that’s where the best pistachios in the world are grown,” she says. “I came back with a whole new line of products to introduce to the U.S.”
Her Pure Pistacchio di Bronte line features the intense flavor of Bronte-grown pistachios, made even more intense this year after a drought produced smaller nuts.
“The kernels didn’t grow to their full size, which makes the flavor even more insane,” she says, noting that the region-specific nuts already are renowned for a unique flavor that comes from Mount Aetna’s volcanic soil. They are harvested by hand every two years, making them more expensive, but to Zanni, so worth it.
Pulling a sample of the ground pistachio paste, she’s enthusiastic.“Look at this color,” she says. “This doesn’t come from food coloring.”Indeed, the rich green color, the shade of evergreens, is not the neon green we’ve come to associate with pistachios. But then there’s the taste, pistachio to the power of 10. It’s easy to see why Zanni was bowled over at her first sample when she visited one of the region’s local roasters.
“I sat back in my chair and said ‘wow,’ “ she says. “Then I wanted to know where to get it in the U.S. When I found out I couldn’t, I said I wanted to be their exclusive distributor.”How that would happen, Zanni initially wasn’t sure. But true to her forge-ahead fashion, that didn’t matter.
“All I know is that I wanted that,” she says.But rather than just buying the pistachio paste to flavor her gelato, the roasters wanted Zanni to try their own products, a savory pesto Pestuccio and a sweet creamy Pistuccia spread. She was in love at first bite.Inspired by their spreads, she asked if they could try to recreate her most popular gelato flavor, White Chocolate Hazelnut, as a spread as well.
The result, the “Baci d’Amore” meaning kisses with love, is Zanni’s throwdown to Nutella.“You can spread it on crossaints, cakes, crepes, toast, fruit, crackers, pretzels, anything,” she says of the sweet, creamy spread with just a hint of crunch. “But I eat it right out of the jar with a spoon and before I know it, it’s gone.”
The Pistuccia spread can be used in similar ways. Zanni likes it in cannoli filling and says it’s the star of a new flavor at Let Them Eat Cupcakes in Doylestown.The Pestuccio pairs perfectly with pasta and paninis. Zanni recently featured it as bruschetta for a First Friday tasting event in downtown Lancaster.
Zanni is marketing the trio of jarred products as a gift set, or selling them individually in specialty shops like Lemon Street Market and grocery stores like SKH for $7.99 each.
She’s also working with local chefs, as well as those in Philadelphia and New York, to incorporate her products in their recipes. But what she really likes is hearing from her customers as they play in their home kitchens and post their results on her Facebook page.
Fueled by pots of coffee and a burning desire to create a food empire, Zanni says she pulls 18-hour days, 6-7 days a week to realize her dreams. Her one-woman-show schedule can include everything from making batches of gelati, driving them herself to local stores, and stocking the freezer shelves, while at the same time, trying to convince the grocer to carry her latest products, then running back home to package up custom flavors of gelati for corporate events and holiday parties, and again, drive them herself to the sites.“I don’t sleep. This is my life,” she says. “But I’m hoping the payoff will come soon.”
Once Zanni finds a national manufacturer (who can meet her exacting standards) for her gelati, and once she develops the market for these new spreads, Zanni wants to branch out to concocting pistachio-based beauty products.“I’m full of ideas,” she says.
A relentless marketer and self-promoter, Zanni employs social media to build a fan base, and blow off steam. Her posts, raw and reflective, have not been prettied up by PR firms, they’re just real Zanni in all of her brash highs and frustrated lows as she aims to build her business, raise her son Luca, and carve out some time with her husband Giuseppe.
From a recent posts: “I started with 1k in my pocket and a vision. still no money a few years later. but i am trying to build something great here. I have given up a normal lifestyle to be in poverty and to not sleep. But these are the risks and the things you have to do when you start from nothing. I am praying things start to pay off four years is a long time to live this hard. :) these are they ways of the many others that have been very successful in companies such as Apple and Auntie Ann’s. So, I guess i am on the right path. This is my only Job. Nothing else for the last four years.”
“Once upon a time, there was a girl who started on the streets. as she pushed her cart on to the side of the road and would scoop fresh made gelato. 4 years later I will be in 92 super markets. humbling to look back, to remember where I came from. to now. :) I have 4 national distribtors who will be carrying my products to supermarkets.” 

Recipes:

Pasta with Pistachio
1 pound pasta1 jar Pestuccio
4 oz. bacon
¼ cup chopped pistachios
2 T chopped onion
½ cup cream
2 T olive oil
Chop the onion thinly and fry in oil, add the bacon and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the pesto and the cream. Cook pasta in salted water, drain, and pan-fry with the sauce for a few minutes. Garnish with the chopped pistachios. 

Cannoli Cream
4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 jar of Zanni Foods “pistuccia” cream spread
Drain ricotta cheese over cheesecloth if ricotta is watery.Combine ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and Pistuccia.For a lighter filling, you may whip 1 cup of heavy whipping cream to form stiff peaks, and fold into filling mixture at this step.Chill filling for about 30 minutes before piping into cannoli.Garnish the cannoli by sprinkling powdered sugar on top and berries at the end. Keep refrigerated until time of serving.
Pork Loin with White Chocolate Hazelnut Sauce
by Chef Christo Gonzales
one ripe pear, diced
half a green pepper, diced
one scallion finely sliced
20 mint leaves finely sliced
6 ounces of chevre
Mix together and spread evenly across butterflied pork loin that has been sprinkled withsalt and pepper, roll up and tie and salt and pepper the outside.Brown rolled loin in a cast iron pan on all sides then put in a 350 degree ovenfor 30-40 minutes or until internal temp is 140.Let rest in pan juices for 20 minutes.Remove pork loin from pan juices and mix in 2 tablespoons of “Baci D Amore” by Zanni Foods, white hazelnut spread and dissolve into pan juices.Slice pork loin into half inch slices and serve with couscous that is made with mint and scallions pouring the hazelnut sauce over the sliced pork and couscous. 

One Response to “Nuts for pistachios”

  1. daina

    Thanks, fixed it.

    11/12/29 17:15

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