|Polcari's Coffee in Boston's North End has all manner of ingredients––and coffee, of course––packed into a corner store.|
A month ago, just a day after the summer solstice (and having put my two boys and husband on a plane to Colorado), my friends Linda and Rosemary and I went to Boston for a North End Market Tour. A three-hour guided tour, we ventured through seven small Italian markets on a cool and breezy summer day, with the odd passing shower. [For more on these excellent tours, organized by Michele Topor, see: www.NorthEndMarketTours.com]
|Boston's North End is primarily an Italian-American neighborhood.|
|Shops like Maria's Pastry Shop now see the light of day after the "Big Dig" (a ten-year construction project in downtown Boston that involved taking down an elevated subway and new greenspace)|
One of our first stops was at Maria's Pastry Shop. Here we sampled marzipan fruits, different pastries, and returned later after the tour and lunch for cannolis and capuccino (and a variety of take home items, including a couple of "sfogliatelle" pastries for my daughter and I for breakfast the next day). Meaning "clam shell", this Italian Neapolitan pastry shell is, to quote from Maria's website, "filled with cheese, semolina flour and citron fruit, mixed with eggs and sugar with a slight cinnamon/orange flavor." The lightly sweetened ricotta filling with a hint of citron was perfect and not too sweet: well worth a return for that alone. Rosemary, herself a former pastry chef, had already figured out how to make the subtle cuts in the dough to mimic the shell. She explained it but I still can't picture it--she'll just have to show me sometime!
|A tray of marzipan fruits at Maria's Pastry Shop.|
|A selection of pastries from Maria's Pastry Shop.|
|Taking shelter from the rain outside of a North End fruit market.|
|A wall of historical memorabilia and family photographs at Polcari's.|
|Like many small North End markets, Polcari's is a chef and baker's dream.|
|A highlight of the day included a cup of lemon ice at Polcari's.|
|Our guide Joe, a professional chef, shared his favorite|
ingredients and many interesting asides during our tour.
|Joe's favorite pasta––and now mine when I can find, or afford, it!|
|Finesse with a cheese wheel at the|
|A variety of fresh bread in the window at the Salumeria Italiana.|