Sunday, September 16, 2007

Walking tour of Boston's North End

Yesterday was a great day walking through the Northend in Boston. For those of you who do not know, the North End is Boston's version of "little Italy". I signed up for a tour through Boston University led by Christine Merlo. Other than a little rain, one couldn't ask for a better day. Luckily for me one of the couples on the tour allowed me to use one of their umbrellas as well, so the rain ended up not being a problem at all.

The tour was about three hours of walking and an about another hour spent having lunch. Our first stop on the tour was probably my favorite which was the Salumeria Italiana. Not only did they have high quality imported Italian dry goods, but they also had an awesome deli counter selling many different salumi and cheeses. I was particularly excited to find out that they bring in fresh boratta every Friday (fresh mozzarella with cream inside) from Italy and they carry bresaula (air-dried beef) two of my favorite Italian ingredients which are very hard to find.

Next we stopped by Polcari's Coffee, another specialty shop selling fresh coffee beans, many different bulk items as well as imported Italian dry-goods. Around the corner from there we tried some of the best fresh mozzarella I have ever had made from cow's milk at Fresh Cheese Shop. I was excited to find Neptune's while going to Fresh Cheese Shop as people had been telling me to go there for awhile, but I'll come back to that later.

Our next stop was to Ernesto's Pizzeria, hands down the best pizza I have had in Boston, probably the best I have had out of New York City. I will be getting pizza here again soon. Around the corner we stopped at Dairy Fresh Candies. They had a large variety of homemade candies as well as bulk bags of many of the popular "penny" candies (is the term penny candy even valid anymore?). I broke down and had to get some dark chocolate covered pretzels and some candied walnuts. We then stopped by The Wine Bottega which was a small boutique wine shop with many eclectic wines, we got to try a red from Sicily, but for the life of me I can't recall the grap.

We stopped by a couple pastry shops, Modern Pastry, where I picked up some incredible torrone. They also fill their canoli to order, which is a great thing. We also stopped by Mike's Pastry which also fills their canoli to order and they also had some beautiful marzipan.

For lunch we ended at Artu, where we had a family style lunch comprised of some vegetable antipasta which included grilled asparagus, peppers, green beas and some others. Then we had a plate of penne pomodoro (or penne with tomatoes) where I was inclined to go on about people speaking of eating locally and seasonally, when tomaotes are an integral part of the Italian cuisine, but were not mentioned in Italian cooking until the 18th century with Vincenzo Corrado's cookbook Il Cucoco Galante written in Naples in 1773 being the first to give a full thirteen recipes for the tomato in the Italian style. I think that's a topic for another day however. The entree was a chicken marsala, which was tasty, but sort of dissapointed me a bit as I was hoping for something a little "different" than a dish one gets at any American Italian restaurant.

The tour ended there, I met some great people and had a wonderful time with all of them and I hope to hear from a few of them soon and on a regular basis because they all had a great love for food. I then went off and wondered back to stores that I wanted to pick up some items from and decided to goto Neptune's for an early dinner after a few hours. I'll post more on that experience tommorow, let's just say I went back to Marco afterwards. I also found another cigar bar for me to hang out in in the Northend for when I get bored of the large crowds at Cigar Masters.

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