Take a look at this... decadence. Chocolate hazelnut pastries. Tiny apricot morsels wrapped in layers of syrup-crusted butter brushed dough.
The bakery is Fornetti's, and it's straight out of Europe, where the company moves more than $100 million in baked goods each year from its more than 8000 locations.
So what is it doing in Arkansas? And where can you find it?
Grav and I attended a preview party this week in the back rooms of Diamond Bear's North Little Rock facility. There, we were treated to samples of different sandwiches on a variety of fresh breads served alongside Diamond Bear Brews (and my own choice, Big Rock Root Beer) while mingling with different people in Arkansas media.
Then we were given the news.
So, you know the Coulson family, right? Arkansas folks who run a lot of enterprise around here? They're teaming up with Fornetti to being European breads and pasties to Arkansas... inside its flagship Road Runner stores.
Peters told me the fastest growing retail market in the US eight now is the convenience store. We're used to them for gas and pre-packaged snacks, but Peters says those demands have already changed in Europe, thanks to consumer demand. Folks there want fresh, hot and convenient.
But at a convenience store? Well, sure. Perfect place, actually.
But how do these pastries taste? We had opportunity to try several applications, including a chicken pesto
But it was the dessert pastries that really shone. There are these tiny apricot pastries that have a thick apricot jelly within the sweet, crispy hatched crust - they look sort of similar to a product you can find in local grocery stores, but since they're baked fresh they have an entirely different texture to them and they are light and delightful.
I loved the little chocolate rolls with their dark chocolate and croissant-like dough - but from reading this you already know how I love a good chocolate croissant.
There were these gooey-centered apple turnovers (called Triangles here) that were fall-apart fantastic. Peters told me so far this is the choice of the Arkansas consumer.
I can completely understand why. I mean, the Italian-influence of pairing chocolate and hazelnut together is popular, and here it shines. I especially love the almost molten center with its "sparkle" of hazelnut bits. Wow.
It'll be interesting to see how Arkansas picks up on this new development. We have long thought of our gas stations and convenience stores as places to pick up a hunk of wrapped cheese or a fried pie by the register, but until now the idea of obtaining fresh and hot baked goods has been foreign. I'm interested to see where this goes.
If you'd like more information about Fornetti and its pastries and baked goods, check out the website here,