FROM “RUSSIA” WITH LOVE by Susannah Grant, a slightly mad hatter

by Susannah Grant posted on 9 February 2019

With Valentine´s Day fast approaching I´m thinking now´s the time to buy a typical yet very original sweet treat for the loved one in our life. So how about some of Confitería Rialto´s typical chocolate-coated almond biscuits or “moscovitas”. Naturally this, more truthfully, would be a veiled present to ourselves but they are so delicious you will still earn yourself plenty of love points with this gastro gift.

Originally from Asturias, the reason behind their so-called Russian connection has been lost over the four generations of family master confectioners. Fortunately for you, you will not have to travel as far as Moscow to enjoy them as they are sold in Madrid at Calle Nuñez de Balboa, 86 and at thirty four other coffee and cake shops in and around the capital. Should you be visiting Oviedo in Asturias the master shop is in Calle San Francisco.

These wafer thin crunchy biscuits or Moscovitas are crafted one by one from Marcona almonds from Eastern Spain, some cream, a smattering of flour and sugar to make a paste which, when hardened are covered with milk chocolate with a spatula. The result is an exquisite crunchy explosion that is so addictive I have been known to devour a full bag of 150g (about 15 biscuits) during one episode of The Crown.

My husband is quite silly and decided to try to balance them on top of his Russian-bought fur hat.

Not to be outdone by his puerile behaviour I tried to compete and I’m now wondering if I shouldn’t be patenting this original design before selling it onto famous milliner*, Philip Treacy.

Which brings me on to an amusing diversion. In 1994, my grandmother decided that my brother should be a model (without any prior consultation with him on the matter) and as she had some tenuous connections with the fashion industry she arranged a little soirée at her house to which she invited some Model Scouts** and a Vogue editor amongst other couture bods. Feeling rather overwhelmed by this sudden alien invasion in my grandmother’s sitting room I attempted to strike up conversation with the rather unassuming shy chap standing next to me who was the only one wearing a shabby sweatshirt, jeans and trainers, long before sports shoes were in vogue. He explained he was a milliner* so I conjured up pictures of him in some cramped damp East London workshop working his fingers to the bone on felt hats and in a bid to keep the flagging conversation going I casually asked where he sold his hats, to which he replied in a lilting Irish accent “Well, some go to Harrods, others to Harvey Nichols and a few one-offs go to Madonna, Naomi Campbell and the Queen direct….”  No prizes for guessing who he was! So perhaps it was befitting of me to be wearing a sumptuous headpiece after all while watching The Queen. As for my brother, he has had a happy TV career behind the camera as opposed to in front of it!

Stockist information:

In case English isn’t your first language:

*Milliners are hatmakers 

**Model Scouts are the people who search for potential models

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