Carolina Garofani brought to Curitiba a new style of confectionery. Caramelodrama, which opened at the end of April, has everything a good dessert lover values: a welcoming atmosphere and first-rate sweets to start. From Italian, the confectioner already had a surname and persistence; to close the package, diploma from Corso Superiore di Pasticceria at ALMA, one of the best pastry schools in Europe. In 2011, she left the job of designer and trilingual translator to spend a year in Parma, Italy, learning the theories, techniques and “how-to” of all the sweets you can imagine.
Candy! Even Carol herself could not imagine that a sudden urge to eat cupcake would bring up a new gift, after all, she had never been the daughter who cooked and did not fall in love with any dessert. At a time when cupcakes were only found outside Brazil, she found a website and did not think twice about buying molds and all the necessary utensils to start the adventure. It worked. In 2010, while working in two jobs – in addition to the English / Portuguese / Italian translations -, she was attending Pâtisserie at the European Center and took care of the recipe and confectionery blog, Carol baked 4,000 cupcakes, alone, for orders.
Regina del Caramello (caramel queen), as she was known at ALMA, came back from Italy with all her heart to open a confectionery as it should be (click here to read the post about Caramelodrama). ICKFD talked to Carol about the challenges of making good sweets in Brazil, childhood memories and controversies like not liking chocolate when you are a pastry chef. Check out:
photo: Ricardo Perini
I Could Kill For Dessert: You had already taken a confectionery course here in Brazil, but what was the feeling of studying in Italy?
Carolina Garofani: It was a shock, because I got there thinking that I knew everything and I found out that I knew absolutely nothing. Confectionery is much more than hand. We say that “you have to have your hand”, but the confectionery is physical and chemical, and ALMA taught me that. We had classes with physics and chemistry professors from the University of Parma and our tests were all theoretical. For example: 30 open questions about chocolate, 30 questions about mousses and creams and another 30 about fermentation. I don’t think I could have chosen a better school.
ICKFD: How can Italian confectionery be defined compared to French?
Carol: Italian confectionery is made a lot of cookies, a lot of dry stuff because Italy went through a major crisis after World War II. Nobody had money for anything else, and the inputs were very difficult to find. You couldn’t get the “uncle” from the neighboring town to bring the cream, because he had the cows but he didn’t have a car, and neither did you. Then the confectionery became drier, with flour-egg-butter as raw materials and lots of dried fruits. The French, on the other hand, is made of creams and things that drip, it is made of caramel. Nowadays the two have already mixed in a lot; Italian confectionery is still drier, very peculiar to every small town there, but Italians have realized the value of creams. Even so, they do not give up certain values.
ICKFD: What values?
Carol: A cake can never be more than 5cm. Never, do they find it horrible. Here I need to give it up because in Brazil we like bigger things, right?
ICKFD: Do you think people are more aware of the quality of products, concerned with eating better?
Carol: It has happened, people ask. A person came here today and asked if there was a thickener in creams, for example. We don’t use any of that, no preservatives, flour improvers and I want to say. People have the right to know what they are eating and unfortunately here (in Curitiba) it is very easy to buy ready made. You buy the Mix of icing cream, the Mix of whatever, and everything comes with a lot of crap inside, a lot of hydrogenated fat. And there are very big and very famous people here who sell everything made with margarine, so I would like to say: pay attention to what you are eating, read the ingredients of things. Try to find out what all those acronyms on the labels mean, because that is what you are giving to your children. Here I make a point of saying that there is none of this. We do everything from scratch. Cheesecake dough? We make the cookie. Our herbs, I use what I get from organic. Coffee, the best we can have.
ICKFD: This is a way of showing the public that it is possible to eat quality sweets and Caramelodrama is doing that, right?
Carol: One of the aims of Caramelodrama is education. Not everything needs condensed milk, the palate can open much more than that, we can eat good sweets. After all, nobody needs candy to live. By the time you enter that door you have already kicked the bucket, you are inside a bakery, sorry, you are going to put on weight. So if you are going to eat candy, let it be the best you can eat! Fattening by quality, at least.
ICKFD: And how are Caramelodrama products? Do you focus more on traditional Italian confectionery or do you also make “granny sweets”, like homemade cakes?
Carol: It’s a happy medium. The cakes are simple pasta, sponge cake, but Caramelodrama is Italian, so the bases are Italian. I will not have carrot cake or coconut cake because in Italy coconut is not used. The line is Italian with a bit of French, so our sweets are made although I don’t have five fillings inside a cake, I have two. And, of course, a coverage that harmonizes. There is no mess of flavor.
photos: Marina Mori / Juliano Lamur
ICKFD: Speaking of names, now. Why Caramelodrama?
Carol: Caramelodrama was the name of a stationery store that didn’t go to many places. My blog had another name, but I found out that there is a confectionery in São Paulo with a very similar name, whose chef is called Caroline, so I found it a bit boring. I decided to change and did a poll on the blog to choose a new name, and Caramelodrama won in a rush, with 80% of the votes. I already knew it was going to happen, but you know, it had to be done in democracy.
ICKFD: With regard to day-to-day life, how is your pastry routine?
Carol: As my suppliers are still not quite round, I usually stop by the Municipal Market and the suppliers there in that region before coming here, at 7:45 am. I already have a list that we make the day before what is missing and I talk to Roberta, my right hand, who arrives at the bakery at 8 am. I arrive with the purchases and we go to the kitchen to finish some decorations to fill the window. I spend the morning in the kitchen, at 10 am we open the store and, when the movement is quiet, I manage to stay for a while in the lounge with the customers. Lunch in five minutes, standing there at 1:30 pm. In the afternoon, we replace what is missing in the window and stock up on cakes, carolines, biscuit. And at 6:40 pm we start to slow down the hall because we closed at 7:00 pm…
ICKFD: Caramelodrama is growing a lot and barely opened! What are your expectations for the future?
Carol: Sincerely? I want to have 30 caramelodramas in 10 years, because I really believe in what I do and I think people can learn to eat well. If I can take this to other places it will be good, I just don’t want to lose this hand of artisans. I would need about 30 clones.
ICKFD: What are your childhood candy memories?
Carol: My childhood memories are salty, I never thought of that. They are images of me making pasta pasta with my grandmother, cleaning basil leaf to make pesto with my father, of my grandfather teaching me how to roast ribs while drinking beer and talking about everything… Of the beef tongue thawing over the sink and the feeling of running your finger over that different texture … My memories are salty.
ICKFD: Moving from savory to dessert, the question could not be missing: what is your favorite sweet?
Carol: I am not much to eat candy, it is very difficult. I don’t like chocolate, we are not good friends. “In a blacksmith’s house the skewer is made of wood”, right? I only eat my sweets, but almost nothing except the cheesecake, because it haunts me and keeps calling me in the fridge. He knows that I’m here and stays there teasing me. And, of course, the caramel. Just doing the caramel it gives me a good thing, the smell of it in the pan makes me smile.