Coffee & Dessert on The Coastside

A Twice-Baked Spring

Each modern recipe boasts a history that reliably extends far back into the centuries. Because of the ever constant migration of people, dishes often share a common ancestry. The number of culinary hands through which the original recipe has passed determines its current iteration. The lineage of food can often be found by tracing its etymology.

Take the example of the Italian biscotto (biscotti, pl.).

The word derives from Latin, “biscoctum,” meaning twice-cooked. Originally made of flour, water and salt, it was commonly eaten in Rome. Cooking this simple mixture twice, slowly, produces a hard and dry rusk that has a long shelf life. Notably, this staple was among the standard ration for the Roman soldier. This primitive “bucellatum” was easily made, with holes punched through the dough to facilitate its dryness. It’s been rumoured that Pliny the Elder, the well-known Roman commander, philosopher, and author of “Historia Naturalis” (book of Natural History), had claimed that the soldier’s biscotti would be edible for centuries.

The influence of the Roman Empire was vast, and most likely, this method of preserving bread spread across its conquered territories. Since medieval times, the French word “bescuit” appeared, which was the forbearer of the English word biscuit. Interestingly, “bis”, from Old Latin, is cognate with Middle High German “zwis”, both meaning two. Zwiebacks are a well known twice baked bread in various forms eaten throughout Germany and Europe.

Though the original biscotti or biscuit was born of practicality, from the Roman bucellatum to the utilitarian British hardtack, a more tasty version emerged in the late Middle Ages with the addition of luxury ingredients such as sugar, eggs, and fat. Caterina de’ Medici in the XVIth century is credited with the idea of adding almonds to this improved biscuit.

What we Americans call biscotti is actually a cantucci (or cantuccini), from cantuccio, meaning a nook or corner, that is, the ends of a loaf of bread.

The Accademia della Crusca (Academy of the Bran), a society in Florence dedicated to the conservation of the Italian language, published a document in 1691 that defined the cantucci as “sliced biscuits, of flour, with sugar and egg white.” In 1779, the first official cantucci recipe was documented in Prato by a scholar named Amadio Baldanzi. In 1858, Antonio Mattei, a baker, began selling his Biscotti di Prato, which consisted of flour, eggs, sugar, almonds and pine nuts. He received notable awards in Florence, London, and Paris for his delicious concoction.

Prato, Italy

Today, the Italian biscotti or cantucci is enjoyed all over. And, there are infinite variations on the original recipe. While it is traditionally enjoyed with a glass of Vin Santo, a sweet “holy wine” from Tuscany, many of us indulge by dipping these crunchy biscuits into our coffee, milk , or tea, during that anticipated moment in our day, when we can retreat to our own little cantuccio.

Vin Santo with Biscotti



Ubi panis ibi patriaWhere there is bread, there is my home.

Or, consider the history of our grand dame, the Cheesecake.


The Coffee Table Book on The Coastside: 
“…a beautiful compilation and the confections look delicious!”

The Former First Lady, Laura Bush

This 288-page, full color, 5.5 pound, 11.5″wx10.75″hx1.13″d, hardcover coffee table book was printed in Verona, Italy on 170gsm Gardamatt paper, each image spot varnished for vibrance, crowned by vivid Matte Laminated cover and silk-screen spot-lettering on the Jacket and Spine of the book, and finally bound in none other than Padua, Italy, the center of book-making!

For those who love the Art of Print, they will appreciate the high quality of this beautiful photographic landscape and dessert document of our Pacific Northern Coastside.


Enjoy our trip to Verona, Italy, where our book was made.

Signing off on the Cover

Back from Verona, Italy…


Life in images

Always Been You, Marie Hines (Hover your mouse over image to see Caption)


Watch our Youtube Book Preview video


Having spent hours taking photographs amidst empty beaches, beneath towering Cypresses, and overlooking endless bluffs, I am reminded by that insightful Shakespeare, who wrote, “Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.”

PHC, Moss Beach Productions

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