Baltimore: Charm City Food Tour of Little Italy

Sandwich

In Baltimore, Charm City Food Tours facilitates a little history, a little walking and a good amount of tasting when you sign up to take one of their tours. I chose to take the Little Italy tour and found that this was not your canned variety food tour. The itinerary brought some unexpected stops, good conversation pieces, and most of all, a real personality to a place that might be seen as an enigma to those looking from the outside into an area rich with history and culture.Sandwich rye

On the day of my tour, there was an intimate group of four, which included our tour guide, Gordon. The small group was a result of the hurricane-like weather that hit Maryland and took out power to so many. I had no power in my home either, but I decided that rather than sweating it out at home, I would sweat it out on the tour where I anticipated I could get pockets of air conditioning and good Italian food. So imagine my surprise when I found out that our first stop on the Little Italy tour was not in Little Italy, and the food was not Italian but Jewish. Intriguing.

Just a few paces away from Little Italy, the food tour started in the Jonestown area, which was settled by David Jones in the 1700’s. People may be more familiar with David Jones in conjunction with the area now known as the Jones Falls. Although Jonestown was home to a lot of influential and wealthy people, the tides changed as more immigrants made their way into the area. Some of those immigrants were-you guessed it- Italians. However, they weren’t the only ones. Jonestown also became home to Irish and Jewish immigrants as well. In 1915, one of those Jewish families established a Baltimore landmark, which is located on Corned Beef Row, a New York delicatessen called Attman’s .

Attmans Delicatessen is renowned, and the pictures on the walls tell the story of its journey throughout the years. Foodies from near and far have been coming to Attmans for generation upon generation for its legendary comfort food. So was I bummed when I found out we were going to Attman’s? Heck no! I knew that there was a pastrami sandwich with my name on it somewhere in the vicinity. Our group, sat down at a reserved table where we were given potato knishes, coddies and a New York pastrami sandwich on rye. The pastrami was piled high, and with or without the mustard, you couldn’t go wrong. Not to be Debbie Downer, but I wasn’t that impressed with the potato knishes-they were a little bland and not especially warm. Nonetheless, two out of three is not bad. The coddies were definitely a score.

flag_houseMoving along on the tour, we took in a bit of American history as we passed the Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum. What makes this museum so special is the fact that this was the home of seamstress Mary Pickersgill. This is where she made the flag that inspired the poem which is now our national anthem. Although, the actual flag is not located on the premises a full-scale replica can be seen on the back of the building.

As we moseyed across the threshold of Little Italy, it was pasta time. So what restaurant would we go to for this amazing pasta? The place is called Frank Vellagia’s Casa di Pasta, and it is not a restaurant but a supplier. This is where many a restaurant and local goes to

We made our way into a cozy little area right outside the bar. I don’t do bars, and I don’t drink so clearly I was out of my element. So on the beverage side, the most I can do is tell you about my killer cranberry juice and let you know that the couple on my tour seemed to really enjoy their wine selections. On the side of a non-drinker, I would say that Amedeo‘s does have a chill factor which lends to a nice relaxed time to converse with friends, drink cranberry juice and eat a delightful proscuitto and mozzarella panini. That’s what I did.

Finally, we made it to the end of the tour-and thank you Charm City Food Tours-you saved the best for last. Dessert! Now I do have to admit to a bit of assumption because in the beginning of the tour I just assumed I was going to have an end-of-tour cannoli (which I love)from Vaccaro’s. Thank the Lord, Jesus Christ, they were more original than that.

I feel like I’m indebted to Charm City Food Tours because I had the best tiramasu I have ever tasted at Piedigrotta Italian Bakery and Pastry Shop. Gordon gave us teasers throughout the tour, letting us know about Piedigrotta owner Carminantonio Iannaccone claims of being the inventor of tiramisu. All in our group dismissed it right away, thinking surely this dessert has been around longer than this man has been alive and why would the inventor of tiramisu live in Baltimore? (Not knocking Baltimore but, it just didn‘t seem likely). Nonetheless, our tour guide was nothing if not resourceful and investigative. It seems Gordon did some research and

it appears that Mr.Iannaccone may not be just whistling Dixie.

In short, I don’t know, but you can read all about his claim on the Piedigrotta website. Here’s an even better idea, just drop by and ask him yourself. He’s sure to have a story to tell and you can listen to it while you are drinking a darn good cup of cappuccino with possibly the best tiramisu you will taste in your life.

Charm City Food Tours operate other Baltimore tours Fells Point, Federal Hill and Mount Vernon. For more information about the tours in Baltimore and in sister cities, click here.

 

This article can also be found on the Baltimore Ethnic Restaurants Examiner page.

get their fresh handmade pasta. We had a sampling of the tortellini with Bolognese sauce and you could instantly taste the difference in the quality as compared to other products that come from your grocer’s freezer. The consistency of the tortellini, the freshness of the pasta, the delicious lumps of beef in the Bolognese and the sharpness of the tomatoes in the sauce were all formidable. You can pick up your choice of sauces and pasta at their location.

Though we were not quite done chowing down, we reached the midway point at Ciao Bella! More than anything, the best part about our visit meatballto Ciao Bella was the friendly outgoing staff. Executive Chef Gary Hawkins came out to introduce himself and served us a hearty hand-rolled meatball on toasted bread. The meatball was made with beef, pork, fresh garlic and basil. It was not at all overbearing, but enough to satisfy.

On our way to the next location we spotted the tree-lined bocce ball court at D’Allesandro Park. Gordon, our Charm City Food tour guide, told us that the reason why the trees were planted was to provide a little shade for the elder Italian residents who refuse to get air-conditioning. Well, this way they can catch a bit of shade and when the sun goes down they will have the perfect spot to catch a bocce ball game or two.

Our next stop is perfect for those of you who are “too cool for school.” It’s a corner wine bar called Osteria Da Amedeo’s. Laidback is a good way to describe it, but it also has that feel that if too many people find out about its existence the cool points will go down

We made our way into a cozy little area right outside the bar. I don’t do bars, and I don’t drink so clearly I was out of my element. So on the beverage side, the most I can do is tell you about my killer cranberry juice and let you know that the couple on my tour seemed to really enjoypanini their wine selections. On the side of a non-drinker, I would say that Amedeo‘s does have a chill factor which lends to a nice relaxed time to converse with friends, drink cranberry juice and eat a delightful proscuitto and mozzarella panini. That’s what I did.

Finally, we made it to the end of the tour-and thank you Charm City Food Tours-you saved the best for last. Dessert! Now I do have to admit to a bit of assumption because in the beginning of the tour I just assumed I was going to have an end-of-tour cannoli (which I love)from Vaccaro’s. Thank the Lord, Jesus Christ, they were more original than that.

I feel like I’m indebted to Charm City Food Tours because I had the best tiramasu I have ever tasted at Piedigrotta Italian Bakery and Pastry Shop. Gordon gave us teasers throughout the tour, letting us know about Piedigrotta owner Carminantonio Iannaccone claims of being the inventor of tiramisu. All in our group dismissed it right away, thinking surely this dessert has been around longer than this man has been alive and why would the inventor of tiramisu live in Baltimore? (Not knocking Baltimore but, it just didn‘t seem likely). Nonetheless, our tour guide was nothing if not resourceful and investigative. It seems Gordon did some research and

it appears that Mr.Iannaccone may not be just whistling Dixie.

In short, I don’t know, but you can read all about his claim on the Piedigrotta website. Here’s an even better idea, just drop by and ask him yourself. He’s sure to have a story to tell and you can listen to it while you are drinking a darn good cup of cappuccino with possibly the best tiramisu you will taste in your life.

Charm City Food Tours operate other Baltimore tours Fells Point, Federal Hill and Mount Vernon. For more information about the tours in Baltimore and in sister cities, click here.

 

This article can also be found on the Baltimore Ethnic Restaurants Examiner page by Monica Johnson, MCCN writer.

As of 6/5/15 read  2622 times.  Article originally posted at Multiculturalcookingnetwork.com on 7/6/12

Famous Italian Landmark: Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa (ItalianTorre pendente di Pisa) or simply the Tower of Pisa (Torre di Pisa) is the campanile, or freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa, known worldwide for its unintended tilt to one side. It is situated behind the Cathedral and is the third oldest structure in Pisa’s Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) after the Cathedral and the Baptistry. The tower’s tilt began during construction, caused by an inadequate foundation on ground too soft on one side to properly support the structure’s weight. The tilt increased in the decades before the structure was completed, and gradually increased until the structure was stabilized (and the tilt partially corrected) by efforts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Replica made by 4th grader

Replica made by 4th grader

The height of the tower is 55.86 metres (183.27 feet) from the ground on the low side and 56.67 metres (185.93 feet) on the high side. The width of the walls at the base is 2.44 m (8 ft 0.06 in). Its weight is estimated at 14,500 metric tons (16,000 short tons).[1] The tower has 296 or 294 steps; the seventh floor has two fewer steps on the north-facing staircase.

Read More about the possible architects

Authentic Godfather Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe Made Easy

Recently, I published my long await Best Foodie Film list here on the Multi Cultural Cooking Network Blog and on IMDB.  On LinkedIN’s Movie addicts page there was lots of feedback.  The Godfather and Godfather 3 have some fantastic foodie moments revolving around meatballs, sausage and gnocchi.  Francis Ford Coppola is definitely a foodie.  It creeps out with taking the time to do a cooking lesson by the character Clemenza and Michael Corleone in “The Godfather.”   Back then we didn’t realize he would start Coppola Winery.

Foodie Moment: Clemenza tells Michael:

Come over here, kid, learn something. You never know, you may have to cook for 20 guys some day. You see, you start out with a little bit of oil, you fry some garlic, then you throw in some tomatoes, some tomato paste, you fry it, you make sure it doesn’t stick, you get it to a boil. You shove in all your sausage and your meatballs, add a little bit of wine, and a little bit of sugar — and that’s my trick.

See the gnocchi scene in Godfather 3 (In Italian) 

Review of Recipes to Remember- An Italian Cookbook

Recipes to Remember is an engaging cookbook fueled by family love.  I strongly encourage readers to take the time to recipes-to-rememberread the section near the beginning of the book described as, “My epicurean journey.”  It will help the reader appreciate each recipe preserved by author Barbara Magro.    She is not afraid to invite you to sit at the table while she explains the character arc of her life, how she arrives at the creation of this cookbook.   Her subtitle says, “My epicurean journey to preserve my mother’s Italian cooking from Memory Loss.”  The title quickly grabbed my attention because I could relate to it.  When I step in the kitchen, especially for the holidays it helps me connect with family no matter how far I am and who has passed.  Stirring ingredients stirs up memories.  Sharing the recipes preserves tradition and history.  Magro recognized with beginning stages of her mother’s memory loss would go a huge part of her family’s history.  With a sense of urgency, Magro stepped up to the challenge of saving her family’s culinary legacy. When Magro did this for her family, she tapped into a helping other Italian families conjure up pieces of family memories and I believe it would help any family to be inspired to get in the kitchen with your relatives to understand the importance of culinary family traditions.

The vibrant mostly in color cookbook is filled with 100 classic Italian recipes from antipasti (appetizers) to holiday recipes.  I appreciate that Magro does not opt to merely lump certain dishes into the standard sections.  The holiday dishes are highlighted from Easter to Christmas.  Look forward to finding recipes for antipasto classic, pasta e fagioli, various sauces, polpettone(meatloaf),  sausage stuffing for turkey,  veal parmesan, zeppole, pizza rustica, biscotti de mandoria(almond biscotti) and more.    If you have ever desired to learn more about Italian cooking starting with the cookbook of classics is a great way to start.  Seeing how the holiday recipes are grouped together is an excellent shortcut way to learn about Italian culinary traditions.

Most people do not pick up a cookbook to read a biography; however, this cookbook includes a compelling inspired story of creation. This book has one key ingredient many other cookbooks miss…soul.  It should be a gift to yourself and to put in someone’s culinary library.   A portion of the proceeds from Recipes to Remember benefits the Alzheimer’s Association.

Feast of San Gennaro- Hollywood 2012

Zeppolle

The Feast of the San Genarro, technically called The Galbani®Cheese Italian Feast of San Gennaro is set up well with a long aisle of Italian foods, drinks and items displaying Italian pride for purchase.  The vendors were a bit aggressive, the prices a wee bit high but a great  cultural culinary addition to landscape of  Los Angeles.   There was no shortage of red, white and green colors of the Italian flag,  bocce playing and bingo.  The event really had a family oriented feel complete with ferris wheel, a few other rides and a kids korner.  However, the crowd seemed to be rather small.  It was probably the fallout of Carmageddon weekend.

Although I am not Italian, I am a New Yorker exposed to some of the Italian culinary experience via New York.  Yes, to my delight there was Italian Ice but priced at $5.00 a cup full.  If you are from New York this is pricey to us but I must admit the cup was two times what you usually get in NYC.  Familiar food finds included gelato, pizzas, cannolis,  and also to my delight zepolles.

Cannoli from vendor

We spotted the former contestants from the Great Food Truck Race, Nonna’s Kitchenette and interviewed them.  See Interview and food moments from the fest.

The Galbani®Cheese Italian Feast of San Gennaro, Los Angeles

The San Gennaro Foundation kicks off October’s Italian Heritage Month, a celebration of everything it means to be Italian, with their

Jimmy Kimmel Dining at Festival

annual street festival, The Galbani®Cheese Italian Feast of San Gennaro, Los Angeles. Since 2002, the San Gennaro Foundation has donated over $750,000 to local charities that benefit Los Angeles shelters for children and families, food banks for the homeless, and school programs for underprivileged youth, among others. Hosted by event co-founder Jimmy Kimmel of Italian and German heritate and Adam Carolla, the Feast will once again take over Hawthorn Ave. (between Highland and Orange) in Hollywood.

Inspired by the 80+ year old New York City tradition, the Feast celebrates Italian culture, entertainment and cuisine, and will feature great food, music, genealogy research, a kid’s corner, bocce, bingo, carnival rides, games and more. Surprise celebrity guests will join the cooking team, as they demonstrate Italian recipes on the Galbani® Cheese La Cucina Italiana Cooking Stage with special guest, Galbani® Cheese’s very own Chef Marco. READ MORE

An Italian American Thanksgiving

The United States has a rich history of immigrants.  With each decade we can continue a culture of people born to immigrant parents.  This article takes a back to an Italian American story.  What I especially love about it is organic fusion various cultures bring to the table of their hyphenated American experience.- Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor

Excerpt from Memories of Italian American Thanksgiving

The women would prepare every conceivable dish that would depict the tradition of Thanksgiving. Many of them had never fixed a turkey or made gravy for the turkey. Some of the dishes, like mashed potatoes and stuffing, would have Italian seasonings added such as Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese and homemade Italian sausage. You can see my Mom’s Italian Style Turkey Stuffing Recipe.


The meal would start with Antipasto (Italian appetizer), which is a salad mixture of Italian salami, cheeses, ham, artichokes, mushrooms served with a vinaigrette dressing. Because some of the older men in the family missed their Italian meals, the women would even fix a pasta dish with meat sauce and meatballs and then we would start on “the turkey meal”.

Read More

Where did Columbus Land in 1492?

Depiction of Columbus Claiming Land Possession

After 29 days out of sight of land, on October 7, 1492, the crew spotted “[i]mmense flocks of birds”, some of which his sailors trapped and determined to be “field” birds (probably Eskimo curlews and American golden plovers). Columbus changed course to follow their flight.[24]

Land was sighted at 2 a.m. on October 12, by a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana (also known as Juan Rodriguez Bermejo) aboard La Pinta.[25] Columbus would later assert that he had first seen the land and, thus, earned the reward of 10,000 maravedís.[26][27] Columbus called the island San Salvador, in present day the Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos, although the indigenous residents had already named it Guanahani. Exactly which island in the Bahamas or Turks and Caicos this corresponds to is an unresolved topic; prime candidates are Samana Cay, Plana Cays, Grand Turk, or San Salvador Island (named San Salvador in 1925 in the belief that it was Columbus’ San Salvador).  READ MORE

Chef Kate’s Grilled Kale Caesar Salad w/Canellini Beans

Chef Kate Homes at Farmer’s Market

Besides being a master chef, Kate Ferrara Homes knows thing or two about how make Italian food healthy.  Run off to the farmer’s market if you can to gather your produce for this amazing recipe. Chef Kate recalls fondly gathering around the dinner table as a child growing up in an Italian family. One of the ways to set the tone for dinner is appetizing salad.  Try this salad which burst with the flavors of Italy.

Ingredients

  • 1 lg bunch kale- washed thoroughly and removed from stems
  • 1T olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 white anchovies, rough chopped
  • ¼ c grated parmesan
  • juice of 1-2 lemons
  • 1T Dijon mustard
  • 1tsp chopped parsley
  • ½ t salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 2T olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 can canellini beans- drained
  • 4 slices of crusty bread brushed with oil salt and pepper

 

Method
Fire up the grill on med/high. In a large bowl, toss kale with oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Reserve.

 

In a separate bowl, combine juice of one lemon and Dijon, stir in anchovies, parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper

 

Heat 2 T olive oil in a med skillet over low heat. Gently sweat garlic and crushed red pepper until soft and fragrant, but not browned. Add in drained beans, stir over low until heated through.

 

Grill Kale 1 min per side. It should be wilted with charred bits. Transfer to a cutting board and rough chop. Grill bread as well. Stir the bean and garlic mixture into the rest of the dressing, taste for seasoning and add more lemon if necessary. Toss in a large bowl with Kale. Serve with grilled bread.

 

Recipe by MCCN Contributing Chef Kate of Carried Away Catering

 

Venice Carnival 2011 – Ottocento – Da Senso a Sissi

19 – 20 February

26 February – 8 March

The Venice Carnival is the largest and most important Venetian festival, an appreciated cocktail of tradition, entertainment, history and transgression in a unique city, a festival that attracts thousands of people from around the world each year. The Carnival has very old origins. It is a festival that celebrates the passage from winter into spring, a time when seemingly anything is possible, including the illusion where the most humble of classes become the most powerful by wearing masks on their faces.