Bakers bring wine-dipping cookies to North Shore
Jyoti Lazzaro (left) and Serena Puri offer samples of their dipping cookies at Schaefer’s in Skokie. | Cathering Rolfes~For Sun-Times Media
Sip + Dip will be offering free tastings from 12-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 at Schaefer’s, 9965 Gross Point Road in Skokie.
For more information you can visit www.sip-dip.com.
Updated: December 18, 2012 12:20PM
When Jyoti Lazzaro returned to Chicago after living in Italy for 17 years, she brought with her a whole new culture of dining and recipes to match.
She had grown fond of four hour dinners with friends and family, where the food delighted conversation and bellies alike. At the end of those meals, it was common to see homemade biscotti brought to the table to be enjoyed (and yes, dunked) with wine.
Hoping to create a similar affinity here, she joined forces with friend Serena Puri, and the two launched a line of all natural vegan dipping they perfected in their commercial kitchen in Highland Park.
“In Italy, this was my favorite cookie and I was obsessed,” said Lazzaro, who studied in Rome at John Cabot University, graduating in 1988 with a degree in business. “We’d go off into the hills in the summertime, and after our big meal we’d bring out baskets of cookies and sit there for hours singing, drinking (wine) and eating cookies.”
In little under a year since creating the business, Sip + Dip, they have established a following at three local shops — Schaefer’s in Skokie, WineStyles in Glenview, and Vinic Wine Co. in Evanston.
“What’s fun about them is they’re local, made in the neighborhood,” said Sandra Petersen, a manager at Schaefer’s. “And they’re quite tasty.”
It was the desire to popularize the Mediterranean food-sharing experience that led Lazzaro and Puri into the kitchen. After all, no great relationship can ever begin until you’ve shared food from the same dish.
“This country is going towards that type of eating — casual, simple eating where we all share,” said Puri, a former attorney living in Glenview. “Eating that promotes togetherness, encourages friendship. It’s one of the things I loved about this concept.”
Sip + Dip cookies are offered in three varieties — white wine, red wine and chai tea, and there are plans in the works to add more.
Vin Santo, a smooth amber-colored Italian dessert wine, is the most common wine for dipping, but Lazzaro suggests pairing their white wine cookies with a sparkling Prosecco. Pinot Noir or Amarone, a rich Italian dry red wine with very little acid, both pair nicely with the red wine cookies.
“One of our biggest challenges is getting people to accept the whole new food experience of wine and cookies together,” said Puri. “Wine and cheese people know, but dipping cookies in wine is something people aren’t used to. “
Cooking is in Lazzaro’s blood. Growing up in Nepal and Thailand, she vividly remembers being a little girl watching in the kitchen as 10-course meals were prepared from scratch. She then moved to Italy where her passion for food only grew while working for a catering company. The Italian way of living and eating was the influencer that eventually led her to quit her full time job in fashion to concentrate solely on the business.
By using extra virgin olive oil instead of butter, these ladies have created a healthier biscotto that is lower in sugar, sodium, and saturated fats. With each 1-ounce cookie coming in under 80 calories and made without processed ingredients or preservatives, they said they don’t mind if their kids snack on them all day.
“When we’re at a party we love to do it,” said Puri. “We have one glass of wine in the middle of the table, we’re all dipping cookies into the wine, and we’re having a great time. It creates an intimacy and makes the evening memorable.”