We have been importing Lisbona Tomatis cookies from Italy for 15+ years. Many of our customers know them well – a sweet-savory-secret in our bakery section. However, we worry that tucked on the shelves as they are, new customers may be missing out on this delicious taste of Piedmont. As a result, we wanted to share a little about how we came to import these cookies and what makes them special.
Founded in 1925, Lisbona Tomatis is a third generation bakery located in Pamparato, a municipality in the northwestern extremes of Italy. Their recipes stem from local tradition and all of their ingredients are sourced within the province of Cuneo.
Beatrice Lisbona and Mario Tomatis launched the bakery back in the twenties with the idea of selling their cookies not just locally but to others outside their area, sharing their Piedmontese heritage. They started by making one kilogram of cookies per week. Today, Annamaria Tomatis, the third generation of her family to run the bakery, continues to make the biscuits with what she refers to as a “sacred respect” for the traditional recipes.
In the mid-90s, Ihsan and Valerie had their first taste of Lisbona Tomatis cookies when food-writer and author, Corby Kummer, kindly gave them a box as a gift. Shortly thereafter, on a cheese sourcing trip they were able to sample the cookies on location. One of the cheesemakers they were visiting was located up in the mountains in Pamparato and he further endorsed these wonderful, locally made biscuits. Ihsan and Valerie met with Annamaria over lunch that day and, impressed by the flavor and quality of the cookies, as well as the spirit in which they are made, we have been importing them ever since. In a follow-up visit to the region, Ihsan recalls being served their Integrali biscuits as a complimentary side with a cup of hot coffee when having a 6am café meeting with Fiorenzo, an old friend and Italian cheesemonger. An excellent start to a busy day.
We carry three varieties of Lisbona Tomatis cookies: Paste di Meliga, Paste di Meliga Solo Mais and Biscotti Integrali di Pamparato. Sugar, butter, fresh eggs, whole milk, honey and salt are common to all three with the main variation coming in the type of flour or grain used and the shape of the cookie. The Paste di Meliga Solo Mais, true to its name, is made solely with cornmeal. Eating a Solo Mais is like eating a scrumptious cornbread cookie. We think it would be absolutely amazing paired with a rich and creamy vanilla ice cream. The Integrali are made with wheat flour while the Paste di Meliga are made with a combination of wheat flour and cornmeal. The Integrali is the heartiest of the three cookies and they pair well with sweet tea or a strong coffee (as Ihsan had them). The Paste di Meliga, with its more noticeable hint of honey, is excellent paired with a cup of black tea in the afternoon.
Regardless of which biscuit you choose, they all offer a delicious taste of Piedmont – perfect when shared with friends or family. Also good when kept all to yourself.