Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Isa's Pistachio Cake: a Story of Community

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 11:02 AM

ce6a/1248797504-isa.jpgIsa's Pistachio Cake is as much a product of Isaura Amill's present community as it is a tribute to her heritage. The recipe for this buttery sweet specialty hails from Puerto Rico, where Isa was born and where her mother began selling the cakes 15 years ago. Seven years later, when Isa came to the United States, she brought the recipe with her but wasn't necessarily interested in baking the cakes for sale. “It’s just always been the Christmas gift that I give to people,” she says.

It wasn’t until her friend and business partner, Qazi Ahmad, tried the cake and suggested she start her own brand that Isa even considered selling them here. She then brought samples of the cake to Tony Owen, manager of Miss Cordelia’s Grocery in Harbor Town. He was immediately interested in carrying the product and shared some advice on expanding her customer base … by starting at Miss Cordelia’s and moving into the farmers markets.

Isa has also received generous help and advice from Chef David Schier at Currents Fine Dining. As a fellow Harbor Town community member, Schier has given Isa a space in his kitchen to make her cakes in accordance with health department rules. And with Miss Cordelia’s right down the street, Isa is able to replenish the stock of her freshly baked cakes each morning and as needed throughout the day.

The pistachio-stippled cakes are rich and stay soft and fresh long after purchase; Isa and Qazi are actively working to make them more available. They have applied for their own booth at the farmers market, and are also looking at the possibility of sharing a booth with an established vendor. Until then, Isa’s cakes will be available at Miss Cordelia’s, where they’ve been selling like, well, hot cakes.

Isa’s Pistachio Cake comes in small, medium and large sizes — the smallest is a 12-ounce loaf and the largest, a 72 ounce Bundt cake. They also take special orders with a 24-hour turnaround. E-mail questions and orders to Isa at cakesbyisa@gmail.com.

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