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Pasticceria Natalina--Andersonville's new Sicilian bakery!

Pasticceria Natalina--Andersonville's new Sicilian bakery!
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  • Post #361 - December 21st, 2010, 8:05 am
    Post #361 - December 21st, 2010, 8:05 am Post #361 - December 21st, 2010, 8:05 am
    I will miss PN and I agree with Riddlemay's assessment of the article.

    I have to add that I think the vitriol directed at her is strange because (a) most people who like good food are willing to pay more for better ingredients. Somehow she is a very bad person for saying this. (b) Many other talented chefs in Chicago have said pretty nasty things also and I don't see anywhere near the level of outrage directed at them.
  • Post #362 - December 21st, 2010, 8:08 am
    Post #362 - December 21st, 2010, 8:08 am Post #362 - December 21st, 2010, 8:08 am
    I think it's completely misguided for Santander to suggest that bathroom bakery sex is not fun.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #363 - December 21st, 2010, 10:13 am
    Post #363 - December 21st, 2010, 10:13 am Post #363 - December 21st, 2010, 10:13 am
    Darren72 wrote:(b) Many other talented chefs in Chicago have said pretty nasty things also and I don't see anywhere near the level of outrage directed at them.

    When Bill Kim of then six-week old Urban Belly offered his disdain for internet food communities, the lively discussion of Urban Belly dropped to a trickle. It was even nominated for a GNR, which might have been premature. All this came to halt from his interview at the Tribune.

    Graham Elliott was also part of this choir, too, but the impact here was not as dramatic.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #364 - December 21st, 2010, 10:19 am
    Post #364 - December 21st, 2010, 10:19 am Post #364 - December 21st, 2010, 10:19 am
    I liked this quote from Goethe in the Tribune article:

    "To be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great."

    The problem for a pastry shop is that public opinion is what keeps you in business or not. I don't spend my spare money on cheap drinks or cigarettes, but I find $9 for a cannoli, $12 for a lobster tail and $9 or so for a small bag of cookies excessive.

    I'm not sure I buy the arguement that people don't appreciate or want to pay for fine ingredients. I think it's an excuse for a poorly run business. Just for laughs, I went to the website for Pierre Herme in Paris to look at the prices for pastries ordered on line to be picked up at his local Paris shop. The prices ran between $4-10 per item when converted to dollars. He's paying a lot higher rent than you'd find on N. Clark, uses equal if not better ingredients and produces far more intricate and labor cost intensive pastries. So how can he do it and PN can't? Maybe PN got stuck with a bad lease deal and raising prices to exorbitant levels in the teeth of the worst recssion since the 30's is a recipe for disaster. I just wouldn't blame the public.
  • Post #365 - December 21st, 2010, 11:15 am
    Post #365 - December 21st, 2010, 11:15 am Post #365 - December 21st, 2010, 11:15 am
    To me Natalie seems like an amazing baker who is not very good at or interested in running a business.
  • Post #366 - December 21st, 2010, 11:17 am
    Post #366 - December 21st, 2010, 11:17 am Post #366 - December 21st, 2010, 11:17 am
    rickster wrote:I'm not sure I buy the arguement that people don't appreciate or want to pay for fine ingredients. I think it's an excuse for a poorly run business. Just for laughs, I went to the website for Pierre Herme in Paris to look at the prices for pastries ordered on line to be picked up at his local Paris shop. The prices ran between $4-10 per item when converted to dollars. He's paying a lot higher rent than you'd find on N. Clark, uses equal if not better ingredients and produces far more intricate and labor cost intensive pastries. So how can he do it and PN can't? Maybe PN got stuck with a bad lease deal and raising prices to exorbitant levels in the teeth of the worst recssion since the 30's is a recipe for disaster. I just wouldn't blame the public.


    Interesting comment. In fact, I think that Gale Gand, in the Trib piece, disagrees. "It's not that far off from the truth," says Gand, executive pastry chef at Tru and a former Food Network host. "We've trained a generation or two that artificial flavors taste right. I can't go into the bakery business because of it." Which I read to mean that she can't afford to go into the bakery business because doing what Natalie is doing--using the best available ingredients--will make her wares "too expensive." Or, more appropriately, will require her to price items at a point many people will reject. Sorta like what's appears to be happening to Natalie. Then again, maybe not. This strikes me as one of those situations where there's just too much critical information that we simply don't have and aren't gonna get.

    So far as Pierre Herme's rent, the quality of his ingredients, or the labor-intensiveness of his work, I don't know and not having access to information like that, wouldn't presume to know. Comparing two completely different operations in two completely different cities, indeed, two different countries, strikes me as pointless.

    You might also be surprised to learn more about the rent situation on Clark Street in Andersonville. A few years ago, many long-time businesses (such as Women and Children First) were on the verge of closing because of the enormous escalation of rents in my little 'hood. A number of other long-time businesses have, in fact, closed up shop. The street has undergone an astounding transformation since I first moved to Andersonville in 1993. I don't have any inside information about Natalie's situation, but you may want to reconsider the subject of rents on that little stretch of real estate.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #367 - December 21st, 2010, 11:28 am
    Post #367 - December 21st, 2010, 11:28 am Post #367 - December 21st, 2010, 11:28 am
    rickster wrote:
    I liked this quote in the Tribune article:

    "To be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great."


    Maybe she shoulda kept reading??

    "Thus to be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great or rational whether in life or in science. Great achievement is assured, however, of subsequent recognition and grateful acceptance by public opinion, which in due course will make it one of its own prejudices."
    -Hegel's Philosophy of Right, §318

    Either that, or maybe in due course we will all gratefully accept Natalie's various s(t)weets...
  • Post #368 - December 21st, 2010, 11:31 am
    Post #368 - December 21st, 2010, 11:31 am Post #368 - December 21st, 2010, 11:31 am
    Giallo wrote:To me Natalie seems like an amazing baker who is not very good at or interested in running a business.


    Agreed. Expressing open contempt for your customers (rightly or wrongly) doesn't seem to be a great business strategy to me. The exception, of course, is if you are the subject of a Seinfeld episode.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #369 - December 21st, 2010, 2:47 pm
    Post #369 - December 21st, 2010, 2:47 pm Post #369 - December 21st, 2010, 2:47 pm
    Kennyz wrote:I think it's completely misguided for Santander to suggest that bathroom bakery sex is not fun.


    I am a modern-day blacksmith.
  • Post #370 - December 21st, 2010, 3:51 pm
    Post #370 - December 21st, 2010, 3:51 pm Post #370 - December 21st, 2010, 3:51 pm
    rickster wrote:I'm not sure I buy the arguement that people don't appreciate or want to pay for fine ingredients. I think it's an excuse for a poorly run business. Just for laughs, I went to the website for Pierre Herme in Paris to look at the prices for pastries ordered on line to be picked up at his local Paris shop. The prices ran between $4-10 per item when converted to dollars. He's paying a lot higher rent than you'd find on N. Clark, uses equal if not better ingredients and produces far more intricate and labor cost intensive pastries. So how can he do it and PN can't? Maybe PN got stuck with a bad lease deal and raising prices to exorbitant levels in the teeth of the worst recssion since the 30's is a recipe for disaster. I just wouldn't blame the public.

    Pierre Hermé knows fucking nothing about pastry.
  • Post #371 - December 21st, 2010, 4:51 pm
    Post #371 - December 21st, 2010, 4:51 pm Post #371 - December 21st, 2010, 4:51 pm
    Is that another reference to bakery bathroom sex? :lol:
  • Post #372 - December 21st, 2010, 6:31 pm
    Post #372 - December 21st, 2010, 6:31 pm Post #372 - December 21st, 2010, 6:31 pm
    No, in some of her tweets Natalie has suggested that various Chicago writers know either F*cking nothing about pastry or F*cking nothing.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
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  • Post #373 - December 21st, 2010, 7:38 pm
    Post #373 - December 21st, 2010, 7:38 pm Post #373 - December 21st, 2010, 7:38 pm
    What I really want to know is if the bathroom is reserved for employee sex only, or can customers avail themselves of it as well?
    As a mattra-fact, Pie Face, you are beginning to look almost human. - Barbara Bennett
  • Post #374 - December 21st, 2010, 7:58 pm
    Post #374 - December 21st, 2010, 7:58 pm Post #374 - December 21st, 2010, 7:58 pm
    leek wrote:No, in some of her tweets Natalie has suggested that various Chicago writers know either F*cking nothing about pastry or F*cking nothing.

    Well, apparently Natalie herself cannot be confused of F*cking nothing. :lol:
  • Post #375 - December 21st, 2010, 11:50 pm
    Post #375 - December 21st, 2010, 11:50 pm Post #375 - December 21st, 2010, 11:50 pm
    I think Suzy C. has a great idea. If they opened up the bathroom for sex for the pastry-buying public, they might save the business. (I don't know what Elliot Spitzer pays for pastry, but we all know what he pays for sex, and I'm guessing the profit margin for the purveyor was pretty high.)

    Sadly, she seems to be a good pastry chef with a total martyr complex, who would rather go down in flames of "truth" than make it work.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #376 - December 22nd, 2010, 8:06 am
    Post #376 - December 22nd, 2010, 8:06 am Post #376 - December 22nd, 2010, 8:06 am
    Darren72 wrote:I will miss PN and I agree with Riddlemay's assessment of the article.

    I have to add that I think the vitriol directed at her is strange because (a) most people who like good food are willing to pay more for better ingredients. Somehow she is a very bad person for saying this. (b) Many other talented chefs in Chicago have said pretty nasty things also and I don't see anywhere near the level of outrage directed at them.


    I liked PN too. And I was willing to pay more for their superior products - albeit quite infrequently (our budget is more Aldi than Whole Foods). But the blessing and curse of the small neighborhood business is that you feel closer to the people who run them. If a businessperson spouts off and says stuff that offends me, I can say, I'd rather not buy pastry from a jerk, and move on. The thing that aggravated me the most about this place - aside from the cringeworthy spectacle of seeing a potentially wonderful place ruined by the stupidity of its proprietor - was that I wanted to go there, but really did not want to patronize someone I found unlikable in the extreme.
    As a mattra-fact, Pie Face, you are beginning to look almost human. - Barbara Bennett
  • Post #377 - December 22nd, 2010, 9:18 am
    Post #377 - December 22nd, 2010, 9:18 am Post #377 - December 22nd, 2010, 9:18 am
    I've held my tongue on PN for a while now, but having just been in last night (for about the 20th time, at least):

    About a year ago my father and I took to stopping by about once a month, toward closing time, for a late night snack after playing some tennis. Natalie has never been anything but warm and welcoming, always open to explain her ingredients and how various treats compare/contrast with each other.

    When one of us goes into the shop without the other, she asks after the missing party and inquires as to how we enjoyed what we purchased last time.

    Even when we brought my culture-shocked northern Arizona cousins in, and they (loudly) lambasted the shop for being showy and overpriced, Natalie and Nick were gracious and simply explained how painstakingly they source their ingredients and prepare everything themselves. My father simply picked up the tab and we went on our merry way. No vitriol, no name-calling, just a couple trying to make their business successful.

    Have some people have varying experiences? Yes.
    Is Natalie young (my age to a t, actually) and sometimes impulsive with her words and actions? In some eyes.
    Is front of house the place to express disappointment with customers? No.
    Does that make her a bad person? No.
    Does that mean she's not skilled? No.

    Bottom line: if you don't support her style and her prices and her business model, don't support her business. If you do, then enjoy the fruits of her labor. But don't go around calling a woman who works hard to make a product people will enjoy a "dick" - especially if you've rarely or never been to her shop.
  • Post #378 - December 22nd, 2010, 10:22 am
    Post #378 - December 22nd, 2010, 10:22 am Post #378 - December 22nd, 2010, 10:22 am
    I agree with the posters who said she was not a good businesswoman and her rude rants did not do her any good business wise. I visited her shop once and while what I bought was very good, the prices were high and seemingly they got higher. Nine dollars for a cannoli is ridiculous imho regardless of what the ingredients were. Research on the web says that Pasticceria Rocco in NY charges about three dollars for a cannoli. Even if PN was better with better ingredients that might warrent another dollar or so. Perhaps she based her prices on a flawed business model. So she needed or wanted to make X number of dollars and she worked backwards from that rather taking into account the cost of materials, labor and expenses. Its sad though that independent bakers of quality can't make a go of it.
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #379 - December 22nd, 2010, 10:32 am
    Post #379 - December 22nd, 2010, 10:32 am Post #379 - December 22nd, 2010, 10:32 am
    Being in several of the "demographics" that were addressed in the tweetstorms, I began to feel uncomfortable about going to PN, even though I was always treated very kindly in the shop. It was hard to shop in a place where I knew there was more than a fair amount of just-below-the-surface contempt felt for me and my kind. After a while, I just stopped going altogether.

    Prices were high but that's the true cost of quality and I had no issue with them whatsoever. I am always willing -- even happy -- to pay more for genuine, artisanal products. Prices had absolutely no bearing on why I stopped patronizing PN.

    From a purely food perspective, I think the closing of the shop is a big blow to the Chicago culinary scene.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #380 - December 22nd, 2010, 10:44 am
    Post #380 - December 22nd, 2010, 10:44 am Post #380 - December 22nd, 2010, 10:44 am
    Bottom line: if you don't support her style and her prices and her business model, don't support her business.


    . . . and that seems to be exactly what occurred; i.e., the flameout has had little to do with the quality of the product and the skill of the artisan, or for that matter the taste -- or lack thereof -- of her potential public.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #381 - December 22nd, 2010, 12:27 pm
    Post #381 - December 22nd, 2010, 12:27 pm Post #381 - December 22nd, 2010, 12:27 pm
    Hello,

    I'm an occasional lurker here who has followed this topic for a while and just felt like stating my opinion for once.

    ronnie_suburban wrote:Being in several of the "demographics" that were addressed in the tweetstorms, I began to feel uncomfortable about going to PN, even though I was always treated very kindly in the shop. It was hard to shop in a place where I knew there was more than a fair amount of just-below-the-surface contempt felt for me and my kind. After a while, I just stopped going altogether.

    Prices were high but that's the true cost of quality and I had no issue with them whatsoever. I am always willing -- even happy -- to pay more for genuine, artisanal products. Prices had absolutely no bearing on why I stopped patronizing PN.

    From a purely food perspective, I think the closing of the shop is a big blow to the Chicago culinary scene.

    =R=


    My reaction is the exact opposite. I'm really not interested in what Natalie has to say about fat people or Catholicism or anal sex or whatever. I'm only interested in her food. I'm willing to pay higher prices for quality, but there is such a thing as prices being too high. I can walk over to Floriole and get a cranberry galette made from scratch with high-quality ingredients, and that is just as delicious as anything I ever had at Pasticceria Natalina, for only $5.50. I can go to Blackbird and get their prix fixe lunch, which includes desserts that are at a much higher level of quality and creativity than what I found at Pasticceria Natalina, for only $22. What is the justification for charging $9 for a cannolo, especially when I was able to buy that same cannolo from her early last year for only $3.50?

    Gypsy Boy wrote:So far as Pierre Herme's rent, the quality of his ingredients, or the labor-intensiveness of his work, I don't know and not having access to information like that, wouldn't presume to know. Comparing two completely different operations in two completely different cities, indeed, two different countries, strikes me as pointless.


    It's not pointless at all. Money only has one language. Costs, supply, demand: those things should determine price. As I see it, the quality of her work wasn't such to generate enough demand that she could charge the prices she wanted to charge and stay in business.
  • Post #382 - December 22nd, 2010, 12:47 pm
    Post #382 - December 22nd, 2010, 12:47 pm Post #382 - December 22nd, 2010, 12:47 pm
    I agree with the post above that there are artisanal products made with high quality ingredients to be had a more reasonable prices in Chicago. I really like the pastries at PN and, while I find the tweets and comments obnoxious, I find myself stopping when I am in Andersonville, but never go just get PN pastries.

    However, a $9 cannolo is not something that will be a daily or weekly treat and I suspect that built into that cost is the cost of being unable to bring in customers. It is clear that you pay more for high quality products, but just because you pay more doesn't mean you pay that much more.

    In the end, losing her pastries will hurt Chicago more than it will hurt her. It is clear that she is unhappy with having to apply business principles to her craft. It is sad that there isn't someone more capable of running the business side of things that would enable her to do what she likes to do, make a living at it, and throw a barca di crema this way every month or two.
  • Post #383 - December 22nd, 2010, 1:10 pm
    Post #383 - December 22nd, 2010, 1:10 pm Post #383 - December 22nd, 2010, 1:10 pm
    msmre wrote:It is sad that there isn't someone more capable of running the business side of things that would enable her to do what she likes to do, make a living at it, and throw a barca di crema this way every month or two.

    I agree - it'd be pretty rad if she were to get (/was interested in getting) a pastry chef gig at a high-quality restaurant, where she could singlemindedly pursue her passion, someone else could worry about the FOH, overhead, etc., and us folks in the peanut gallery could continue to enjoy the fruits of her labor.
  • Post #384 - December 22nd, 2010, 1:19 pm
    Post #384 - December 22nd, 2010, 1:19 pm Post #384 - December 22nd, 2010, 1:19 pm
    Khaopaat wrote:
    msmre wrote:It is sad that there isn't someone more capable of running the business side of things that would enable her to do what she likes to do, make a living at it, and throw a barca di crema this way every month or two.

    I agree - it'd be pretty rad if she were to get (/was interested in getting) a pastry chef gig at a high-quality restaurant, where she could singlemindedly pursue her passion, someone else could worry about the FOH, overhead, etc., and us folks in the peanut gallery could continue to enjoy the fruits of her labor.


    That would be a win-win. If she had her own bathroom. It would be a win-win-win.
  • Post #385 - December 22nd, 2010, 1:52 pm
    Post #385 - December 22nd, 2010, 1:52 pm Post #385 - December 22nd, 2010, 1:52 pm
    msmre wrote:That would be a win-win. If she had her own bathroom, it would be a win-win-score.

    Quote corrected. :lol:
  • Post #386 - December 22nd, 2010, 5:21 pm
    Post #386 - December 22nd, 2010, 5:21 pm Post #386 - December 22nd, 2010, 5:21 pm
    Zarzour says, "The public doesn't understand that I'm the one who loves them."

    Of course; once again, we're too stupid.
    Thank you, sir! May I have another?
    Uh...no thanks; good riddance.
  • Post #387 - December 22nd, 2010, 6:59 pm
    Post #387 - December 22nd, 2010, 6:59 pm Post #387 - December 22nd, 2010, 6:59 pm
    I realize discussing the actual food isn't that exciting, but I'll take one for the team: Last night I had the most amazing blueberry-jam filled pastry from PN. I don't remember what it is called, but she usually has them and rotates the type of jam. The pastry itself was just dense enough and nicely, subtly flavored. It cost $10 and was easily enough for my wife and I to share for a filling dessert. We ate it right after a quite disappointing meal at In Fine Spirits, and the dessert really perked us up.

    Edited to add: my wife tells me the pastry is called crostate de marmalata. She knows her pastry.
  • Post #388 - December 22nd, 2010, 7:39 pm
    Post #388 - December 22nd, 2010, 7:39 pm Post #388 - December 22nd, 2010, 7:39 pm
    A brave man, you are. Imagine: discussing the food! What a concept! Of course, it will last a couple of posts, at best. Then it's back to Chicago's newest blood sport.

    However, in the interest of being on topic and because I really do want to know: I've had many different things over the years from PN, but I don't believe that crostata di marmellata is one of them. I'm curious to know whether the pastry was almond-flavored (if you could tell)? And does it come in more than one flavor at a time or one only, which she rotates?
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #389 - December 22nd, 2010, 7:42 pm
    Post #389 - December 22nd, 2010, 7:42 pm Post #389 - December 22nd, 2010, 7:42 pm
    It seemed like the crust had almond and citrus flavors. Last night, when we arrived, she only had the blueberry. We got the feeling that on a particular day there was only one flavor available, but this could be wrong.
  • Post #390 - December 22nd, 2010, 11:18 pm
    Post #390 - December 22nd, 2010, 11:18 pm Post #390 - December 22nd, 2010, 11:18 pm
    All artists need patrons. One group can't exist without the other.

    No matter how "great" your art is, if you can't motivate patrons to pay you, then you will be discarded and forgotten in due time, and rightly so. Michelangelo had willing patrons. Had he insisted to the Vatican that, say, he needed to be paid twice as much as last year's price for the Sistine ceiling because of whatever reasons, then some other painter would have gotten the gig.

    I will GUARANTEE that I can whip up a cannolo that will literally make you see stars from another dimension and disable you from all rational thought for at least the next fifty days, OR DOUBLE YOUR MONEY BACK, such is the artistry of my creation. My asking price? One billion dollars. Hey, what's your hesitation? I said it was double your money back!! I'm an artistic genius!!

    Philistines.

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