I heart Nutella
We all have secret junk food, the beloved bag of this or fix of that we reserve for those down moments. (Thomas Keller and In-N-Out burgers, anyone?) Nutella, the Italian chocolate-hazelnut spread that comes in jars like peanut butter, has long been mine. My Nutella habit dates to my senior year in high school, a semester of which I spent in Hamburg, Germany. For breakfast, for afternoon snacks after Gymnasium, on a ski trip to the Dolomites and one very long car ride in a VW bus through East Germany and the DMZ to Berlin (this was before German Reunification), we ate Nutella, spread on thick slabs of bread from the Bäckerei with strata of sweet French butter. Twenty-five years later, I still crave the stuff when I watch World Cup games or see snow. I mostly eat it with bread and butter, but I've put it on pancakes and waffles, made ice cream with it, or just ate it on a spoon.
And I'm not the only person with a secret passion for the stuff. At the Food & Wine party at Spago last spring, Spago pastry chef Sherry Yard sent out tuile cigarettes stuffed with Nutella. Alice Medrich includes a recipe for Nutella bread pudding in her new cookbook. And when I interviewed former Bastide chef Alain Giraud for a story about crepes and asked him what he liked best with them, he gave me a long litany of fillings -- simple ones from his childhood in France, haute cheffy recipes from his restaurant and catering menus -- then confided that he best likes crepes spread with Nutella. Though normally, he went on, he just eats it out of the jar. I felt so much better.
Nutella, $4.50 and up (13-oz. jars), and $8 and up (26.5-oz. jars); available at most grocery stores and Italian delis, including Ralph's, Pavilions, Bay Cities and La Bottega Marino. Or see Nutella's website for its really cool store locator.
-- Amy Scattergood
Photo by Amy Scattergood