close up of fresh chocolate mousse

Our Classic Chocolate Mousse Is Sublime.

alpine bakery's espresso cakeNot all Mousse is created equal. Quick or common versions are typically created by folding fresh whipped cream into melted chocolate. These versions have their place in our bakery and in a wide variety of desserts everywhere. Enjoy a dessert with this mousse preparation and you you’ll agree, it’s delicious. But we enjoy creating our authentic Classic Mousse as a unique and complex element in some of our cakes and desserts. Our brand new Espresso Cake is a perfect example. The Classic Mousse serves as both as taste and texture component that elevates the cake to a whole another level.

 

Alpine Bakery's Million Dollar CakeOur Million Dollar Cake which Southern Living Magazine called the “king of the behemoths” also greatly benefits by incorporating our Classic Mousse. It makes this famous cake taste like, well…a million dollars!  Our authentically prepared Classic Mousse is at once silky, rich and foamy. It’s really something worth creating, enjoying and waxing poetic about. Hence this blog.

Since there are so few ingredients involved in our Classic Mousse, the choice of chocolate is critical. We use a premium quality semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate. It contains around 60% cacao. Also the chocolate must have a shiny finish and a make a sharp “snap” sounds when breaking off a piece indicating freshness. First we melt the chocolate with a little coffee and butter. Once it’s cooled to room temperature, the egg yolks are whisked in. Next, egg whites are whipped with a little sugar until stiff peaks form. Then heavy cream is whipped with a little vanilla and sugar until soft peaks form. The whipped whites and whipped cream are then carefully folded into the chocolate producing a light and fluffy, yet extremely rich confection. The chocolate flavor is intense and the texture is silky, airy, with an almost foamy feel. After all, “Mousse” is French for ‘froth’ or ‘foam’.

At Alpine, making our Classic Mousse requires finesse and is neither quick nor easy, but you are worth it.  Come in for our band new Espresso Cake or our famous Million Dollar Cake. And if haven’t already, you’re sure to Taste the Love.

pink tulips

Easter Weekend at Alpine

pink tulips

Join Alpine for a delicious Easter meal.  We will be serving a special Chef’s menu along with our everyday dinner menu. Reservations are highly recommended.  770-410-9883

Easter Weekend Menu

April 3-5, 2015

Ginger & Carrot Soup
garnished with fresh parsley

Spinach & Mushroom Salad
tossed with red onion, hard boiled egg, and bacon
dressed with warm pancetta vinaigrette

Grilled Polenta Appetizer
toasted polenta cake with poached egg, and glazed carrot coulis

Grilled Lamb Rack
marinated in rosemary-thyme oil, served over buttermilk mashed potatoes,
accompanied with tricolor cauliflower

 

 

Salami catering platter with different meat and cheese products

SALUMI – Italian Cured Meats: A Guide

antipasta-trayThe preparation and serving of salumi (cured meats) is a staple in Italian cuisine. Born out of necessity, the tradition of salting, smoking and air drying has been alive in Italy for over two thousand years. It began as a practical way to preserve meat to be consumed at a later date. Today, the tradition of curing meat continues… because it’s delicious.

First, let’s do an overview of the two categories of Italian salumi. Prosciutto, Pancetta, Coppa and others are taken from whole cuts of meat such as a boneless thigh or shoulder, while salami and sausages are formed from meat that has been ground or minced and then stuffed into casings. Then to take it a step further, within these two distinct categories, there are variations in size, shape, flavor, texture, color, and production methods.

Let’s explore some of our favorites that you can enjoy here at Alpine. Capitola, Salami, Ham, Prosciutto, Pepperoni and Sausage are among the most popular types of cured meat or salumi, but represent only a fraction of preparations.

Salumi , Salami, Salame: Sorting out the Names

Salami is not what you or we, as Americans, think. The word “salami” is an Italian word, the plural form of salame, and not the “one” type of meat commonly referred to in America.

Now let’s run though some common preparations and highlight the differences.

Salami – Many variations make up Salami. It is commonly flavored with garlic, peppercorns, paprika, fennel and wine. Types include Finocchiona, Pepperoni, Fegatelli, Felino, Genoese, and Milanese. Each is unique and very flavorful.

Prosciutto – is the Italian word for “ham,” although once again, most people outside of Italy associate this word with a specific type of cure for ham. Proscuitto is made by salting the ham and then air drying for up to two years. After curing, it’s sliced into paper thin, slightly transparent pieces. Typically it is eaten uncooked, wrapped around fruit and vegetables, or in salads. In some cases, prosciutto may be lightly cooked, as is the case when it is tossed with pasta.

Capicola – is a type of cured Italian meat that is frequently used like a lunchmeat on sandwiches or in dishes such as pasta and antipasto. It is distinct from cured ham because, while curing, it is coated in either black pepper or hot red pepper powder making it either hot or sweet.

Panncetta – This salt-cured pork belly is seasoned with nutmeg, pepper, fennel, dried ground hot peppers, and garlic. It is served thinly sliced or chopped after a three month drying process.

Rotola – Mozzarella, prosciutto, fresh basil, sun-dried tomato and hot salami are spun into a small wheel to create this uniquely Italian delicacy.

Come in to Alpine Bakery & Trattoria where the Italian Salumi offerings are alive and well. Try one of our incredible sandwiches, antipasti or on your pizza. We used a wide variety of salumi in all sorts of delicious and traditional ways.

Alpharetta Restaurant Week Logo

Alpine is Celebrating Alpharetta Restaurant Week

Join Alpine for this week-long celebration of Alpharetta’s restaurant scene taking place February 21-28.  We will be offering a $25 prix fixe dinner menu as follows:

$25 Dinner Menu

Course 1 (Appetizer)

Calamari
or
Mozzarella Sticks
or
Rice Balls with Italian Sausage

Course 2 (Entrée)

Parmigiana with angelhair pasta (Chicken or Eggplant)
or
Housemade Lasagna
or
Baked Ziti with Italian sausage

Course 3 (Dessert)

Peanut Butter Bar
or
Keylime Bar
or
Rocky Road Bar

Alpine Bakery Opera Torte

Tortes, Tarts and Pies: Three Delightfully Different Creations.

We thought we’d take this opportunity to explore precisely what distinguishes tortes, tarts and pies from one another. We will begin with pie because after all, February is in fact Great American Pie Month.

Coconut Pie from Alpine BakeryFirst, a pie is generally baked in a shell or a crust of some sort, with one or two crusts. However crusts can vary. A pie can have bottom crusts only, or top and bottom crusts or, as with DEEP-DISH pies, only a top crust. Also a pie can be sweet or savory. Typically a pie is made with a filling. The filling can be fruit, pudding, meat or vegetable. Sweet pies are generally served as dessert and savory pies as the main course or appetizer.

So even among pies, there are many variations. However, the authenticity of a pie is established by the following definition: “anything surrounded on at least one side by pastry–or, in a pinch, yeasted dough.”

Fruit Tart from Alpine BakeryNow on to tarts. Simply stated, a tart is defined as a pastry crust with shallow sides. This short crust is made from butter and eggs and often sweetened with sugar. These ingredients make the pastry rich and crumbly rather than flaky. A tart is baked in a shallow, rimless, straight-sided tart tin with a removable bottom or in a tart band positioned on a baking sheet. When baked, the once fragile pastry develops enough strength to form a pastry shell that can support its filling without the help of the tart tin.

Also, with tarts fillings can be sweet or savory. Some do call a tart a type of pie. Generally tarts are conceived to serve one individual… mini pies ones that resemble little pies. However, there are bigger tarts, and they can be one-layered open-faced, or covered.

Hazelnut European Torte from Alpine BakeryA torte on the other hand is authentically defined as a rich, layered cake-like confection whereby the cake is leavened only with eggs. It uses none to very little flour, but instead ground nuts or bread crumbs, sugar and flavorings instead. Tortes are often multilayered and often have fillings like jams or buttercreams. Tortes are not as light as cake.

Well there you have it. We hope we’ve shed some light on the differences for you! If you would like to see for yourself, we suggest you come in and explore. Alpine’s Tortes Include Banana’s Foster European Torte, Classic Opera Torte, Hazelnut European Torte, and Raspberry Dark Chocolate Torte. Pies include Coconut Cream Pie, Chocolate Banana Cream Pie, Banana Cream Pie, Key Lime Pie, Peanut Butter Pie, Chocolate Cream Pie, Fresh Fruit and Custard Pie, Apple Pie, Blueberry Crumb Pie. Our Tarts include our yummy Fruit Tart with Custard.

So where should you start, Torte, Tart, or Pie? Anywhere you want!

Couple having dinner in a restaurant

Love is in the Air

Plate of Chocolate TrufflesFebruary 14th is Valentine’s Day. People (typically couples) exchange cards, candy, gifts or flowers with their romantic special someone or “valentine.” How did the tradition begin? Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr, St. Valentine and dates back to the 5th century. However, it also has origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia- a raucous, ancient fertility festival. Later, the Christian Church chose mid-February for St. Valentine’s Day in an effort to Christianize the rowdy Roman holiday.

How you may ask did St. Valentine become associated with love and romance? It is a little vague and uncertain as it turns out there was more than one Christian Cleric named St Valentine. However, the one in Roman Times is a great story. He was caught secretly marrying young Romans, who were forbidden to get married because it was believed their single status made them better soldiers. He was sentenced to death after his actions were discovered. Later, in honor of his soft hearted disobedience, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th, St. Valentine’s Day.

tuxedo-strawberriesThe romantic connotations around the holiday were further solidified when in the 1300’s, February 14th was thought to be the beginning of the official mating season for birds. Later in the 1800’s, Valentine’s went main stream, and we saw the beginning of mass produced cards and the Holiday took off like wildfire.

Here are some interesting fun facts to ponder about what we like to give and receive on Valentines’ Day.

  • One Billion – The number of Valentine Cards exchanged each year…the largest seasonal card-selling occasion of the year next to Christmas.
  • 83% – The percentage of the one billion Valentine’s Card purchased by women.
  • 50% – Number of people who prefer to receive a humorous Valentine.
  • 31% – Number of people who prefer to receive a romantic greeting.
  • 8.2% – Number of people who prefer to receive a risque card,
  • 32% – Percentage of total annual sales for florists,
  • 73% – Percentage of total number of people (and they are male) who buy flowers to send on Valentine’s Day.
  • 110 million – The number of roses sold and delivered within a three-day time period during the Valentine’s Day celebrations.
  • $95.00 – Average amount of money men spend on Valentine’s Day gifts.
  • 3% – The percentage of pet owners that will give a Valentine’s Day gift to their pet.

We would love to be a part of your Valentine’s Celebration. We make a special dinner that we are serving the entire weekend, fill our dining room with the soft sounds of live piano music, and get creative in the bakery with Long Stemmed Tuxedo Strawberries and Cheesecake Truffles that we can box up for you to take home to “taste the love” with your Valentine. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Alpine Bakery Cheesecake

Cheescake: A “Rich” History.

The sweet, creamy, cool cake with a crushed cookie like crust that is Cheesecake is a legendary dessert staple for a reason. Today, Cheesecake is synonymous with New York, but it turns out it’s been around much longer than the beloved New York or American version…4,000 years longer to be precise.

The first “cheese cake” is believed to have been created on the Greek island of Samos. It was simply made from flour, wheat, honey and cheese. Considered a good source of energy there is evidence that it was served to athletes during the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C. It was also used as a Greek wedding cake.

Alpine Bakery Turtle CheesecakeWhen the Romans conquered Greece, the cheesecake was also pillaged. The Romans put their own spin on the cake by including crushed cheese and eggs. It was then baked under a hot brick and served warm. As the Romans expanded their empire, the cheesecake expanded its reach. Soon, individual European countries created their own variations using ingredients native to each region.

It was not until the 18th century that cheesecake would start to look like something we recognize in the United States today. Beaten eggs were incorporated instead of yeast and the removal of the overpowering yeast flavor made cheesecake taste more like a dessert. And when Europeans immigrated to America, so came the cheesecake.

The American Cheesecake…A Happy Accident.

Cream cheese was an American addition to the cake. In 1872, by sheer accident, a New York dairy farmer was attempting to replicate the French cheese Neufchatel. Instead, he stumbled upon a process which resulted in the creation of cream cheese. Three years later, a new product was born, packaged in foil and distributed to local stores.

New York Style Cheesecake…Pure and Unadorned.

Alpine Brownie CheesecakeThe Classic New York style cheesecake is served with just the cake – no embellishments. This famously smooth-tasting cake gets its signature flavor from extra egg yolks in the cream cheese cake mix. By the 1900s, cheesecake popularity was at a peak. New York Restaurants would actively compete on which had the best cheesecake.

At Alpine, we have respect for those of you who are purists and prefer your cheesecake straight up New York Style. But we are also committed to providing our customers with more exploratory palates a multitude of cheesecake options.

Please come in and explore all you want. We serve Chocolate, Pumpkin, Chocolate, Strawberry, Lemon, Butterfinger, Apple Crumb, Oreo, Fan, Peanut Butter, Rocky Road, California, Brownie, Key Lime, and Butterfinger. Choose (if you can) your favorite.

Valentines Dinner Menu at Alpine Bakery & Trattoria

Valentine’s Weekend Menu

Valentines Dinner Menu at Alpine Bakery & TrattoriaJoin Alpine for a Romantic Meal and a Little Night Music.  We will be serving a special Chef’s menu along with our everyday dinner menu.  Reservations are highly recommended.  770-410-9883

Valentine’s Weekend Menu

February 13-15, 2015

Tuna Tartare
Marinated Ahi Tuna stacked with diced tomato and avocado
topped with a ginger-teriyaki glaze and toasted sesame seeds
served with housemade crostini

Roasted Beet and Burrata Mozzarella Salad
roasted candy beets atop an endive-arugula salad
tossed in white balsamic vinaigrette
aside fresh burrata mozzarella cheese
topped with red sea salt and pine nuts
finished with a mango-balsamic reduction and torn mint

Grilled Filet Mignon
8 oz. center-cut filet of beef in a cognac demi-glace
with a red wine mushroom risotto and white and green asparagus

Pan-Seared Alaskan Halibut
served with spanish-style rice and sauteed winter vegetables
finished in our Chef’s housemade Romesco sauce

fireworks in Florence Italy

Happy New Year…in America and Italy.

fireworks in Florence ItalyPeople celebrate the New Year all over the world, but that celebration varies based upon country, and culture. In America, New Year’s Eve Celebrations featuring champagne toasts, midnight kisses, rousing versions of “Auld Lang Syne,” and “ball drops” are staples… with a New Year’s Day synonymous with parades, football, and maybe a meal of black-eyed peas, cabbage, and pork. That meal, superstitiously enough, is thought to bring good luck throughout the upcoming year. New Year’s in Italy is also a holiday filled with tradition… and other complex and interesting superstitions.

Superstitions: Out with the Bad Luck and In With the Good.

New Year’s Eve is the time to throw out lots of the old. In southern Italy, particularly in Naples, the tradition is to rid yourself of past bad luck and unhappiness by throwing old pots, pans, clothes, appliances, even furniture out the window. It’s meant to symbolize “letting go” of past unhappiness in order to successfully prepare yourself for the future.

As for New Year’s Day, it is a common superstition that if a tall, dark-haired stranger (called the First Footer or Lucky Bird) is the first to walk through your door, you’ll have good luck all year.

Also, it’s considered bad luck to let anything (people being the only exception) leave the house on New Year’s Day. You shouldn’t take out the trash or anything else. If it must leave the house, take it outside the night before. These practices apply in other areas as well—avoid paying bills, breaking anything, or shedding tears.

Final Burn of the Yule Log

Another tradition is to fire up the Christmas Yule Log on the last day of the year. The thinking is

that it will scare evil spirits away…they don’t like fire. Also, it’s an invitation to the Virgin Mary,

who can use the fireto warm newborn Jesus. Ashes are sometimes used as charms to protect

the house from damage.

Wear Underwear…and make it red.

Men and women both wear red underwear for luck in the New Year. Enough said.

Certain Foods brings Wealth

In Italy, a traditional New Year’s Eve meal is full of symbolism to attract abundance in the New Year. Different regions serve different foods to represent similar concepts and here are a few.

In Piedmont, rice represents coins—so traditional dinner is risotto in bianco (white risotto). Elsewhere in Italy, lots of dishes feature lentils (which symbolize wealth) and raisins (for good luck).Various Pork Sausages are served in many regions. When sliced the pieces look like coins… symbolizing wealth in the New Year.

Serve Sweets for a Sweet New Year

To guarantee a sweet new year, ancient Romans gave each other jars of dates and figs in honey, along with a bay branch for good fortune. In Naples, this tradition continues people exchange figs wrapped in laurel leaves.

Come in and start your own tradition by trying our specially created New Year’s Eve menu, or chose your favorites from our regular menu. You’ll also find dozens of sweet choices to finish your meal. And if you want to wear red underwear for extra luck, who are we to judge?

New Year's Eve place setting

New Year’s Eve 2014 Menu

New Year's Eve place setting

Ahi Tuna Carpaccio

thin sliced tuna on a chilled plate with shaved cucumber, carrot, capers, red onions, drizzled with spicy mustard, and served with crostini
15

Cauliflower and Winter Squash Soup

4 cup / 6 bowl

Endive and Granny Smith Apple Salad

Belgian white endive, golden raisins, Maytag blue cheese, candied walnuts, toasted walnut vinaigrette
9

Grilled Swordfish

with Tarragon-Chardonnay Cream Sauce served with lobster mashed potatoes and lemon broccoli florets
30

Osso Bucco alla Milanese

Veal shank slow-cooked in white wine lemon sauce with carrot, onion, and celery
served over saffron risotto and roasted Malibu carrots
32

Reservations highly recommended

770.410.9883