Last week, the CLIF Bar team visited NYC and gave us some pre-release samples of new training snacks to try. At the top of the bag was Gary's Panforte, a 260-calorie "limited edition" bar inspired by bike trips through Italy. It was so good, it didn't stay in its bag long enough for a good photo.
Gary Erickson, the CEO of CLIF is an avid cyclist who takes regular cycling trips through Italy. He has enjoyed not only the spectacular climbs -- one of which is featured on the wrapper -- but the food along the way. On one of these journeys, the locals introduced him to local dessert called panforte. It's made from fruit, nuts and resembles fruitcake. The history books make reference to the food all the way back to the 1200's.
Gary challenged his chefs in Berkeley, California to create a bar that captured the essence of the treat. "Gary's Panforte" will be released later this spring. It's 260 calories and loaded with dates, figs, and almonds.
So how do you test a bar like this? You try it on a cold, long, slow ride through the hilly backroads of Northern Westchester County with two friends. When I passed one bar to Dave, my cycling buddy, he said, "If it comes from CLIF, you know it's good food."
I open the bag about 30 miles into our 55 mile ride. The bar exploded in my mouth with the fresh taste of the fruits and spices - I was suddenly eating a fruitcake somewhere in the Dolomites with the locals. The only thing missing was a warm cup of cappuccino. 40 miles into the ride it even tasted better.
I looked in the bag at the end of the weekend I looked in the bag. The only thing I could find was an empy Panforte wrapper. My recommendation: when these treats hit the shelves for a few months this year, buy them when you see them, because they definitely won't last long on the shelves.