All I want to do is eat cannoli for breakfast

I set out to do four things today:

1. Drink cappuccino
2. See square-rigged ship under sail
3. Eat oysters
4. Eat tiramisu

Guess which one I did not accomplish.

I wanted to be in Salem before 1 to try to see the Friendship sail, so that left me part of the morning. I decided to head over to the North End in search of good cappuccino and perhaps something along the pastry line. I'd already had a banana and a piece of peanut-butter-covered toast, but I was not about to pass up another opportunity for some form of delicious Italian dessert. Call it, uh, dessert of breakfast!

I got over to the North End early enough that there were still plenty of tables open at Mike's Pastry, so I went for the opportunity, and had a cappuccino (perfectly frothy) and a florentine ricotta cannoli. The ricotta filling was creamy and amazing, and in a shell reminiscent of toffee — sweeter and harder than their standard cream cannoli shells.

While I was at Mike's, I heard a snare drum in the distance. A group of about eight men marched past down Hanover Street in time to the snare drum, of varying ages and degrees of formal dress. I'm assuming they were on their way to a Memorial Day parade of some sort.

I thought about trying to make the 10:15 train to Salem but decided that would be pushing it. So I sat in the memorial/park behind Old North Church and read (1776 — I had to pick at least one book for this trip that was super relevant) for awhile. It was very surreal to be reading that book in that location, running across location after location in the book that I'd just been to.

I took the commuter train to Salem and got there at about noon. I was down by the water by 12:15, but when I turned the final corner to where the Friendship should be docked, or, perhaps, working her way out to the harbor, she was gone. I walked fast down Derby Wharf and there she was, but already fairly far away.

Friendship heads out.

I could see where the ship was headed, so I thought I'd try to walk down and catch up in time to see her set her sails. I walked, and walked, and walked. Once you reach a certain point on Derby Street in Salem, you no longer have any sort of view of the water. There's a giant power plant. Then a sewage plant. There's a lot of prime real estate taken up with crap. Literally.

Finally I reached a road jutting off in the right direction, and found myself entering Winter Island. Winter Island was actually really nice, with a tiny beach and lots of picnic tables and campsites. And I did get to see the ship heading out to sea, but still no sails. I had assumed they used a motor to get out of the harbor, but this left me wondering if they were going to sail at all between Salem and Maine, where the Friendship is supposed to be hauled out.

Anyway, I ended up doing a lot more walking today than I expected, and the guy that led our tour yesterday was super wrong when he said the ship was leaving at 1 p.m. It might have made open ocean by 1 p.m., but it probably left closer to 11 or 11:30. Since the ship wasn't actually ever under sail, and I'd already seen all the sites I wanted to see in Boston, I was much less dissappointed than I might have been.

I came back and had a light dinner at Union Oyster House — half a dozen oysters and clam chowder. Both were delicious. I'm still fairly new to eating oysters and these were larger and a little meatier than I've had, and therefore more intimidating for an oyster newbie. But they were super fresh — shucked in front of me at the bar — and tasty. The ambiance is fun, too, as the restaurant is the oldest in operation in the country.

Me at Union Oyster House.
The bartender/oyster shucker said he takes
a lot of pictures, and volunteered to take mine.

I've already let on that dessert was tiramisu, which I had with a decaf cappuccino, at Caffe Vittoria. Caffe Vittoria, unlike the tight bustle of Mike's Pastry, is a huge place, and it aims to be like a cafe in Italy. The space was really nice, the tiramisu creamy and one of the best I've ever had. The cappuccino was dandied up with a lot of cocoa powder, though — it paired really well with dessert but from a cappuccino purist perspective, Mike's was better.

Speaking of Mike's, I stopped back there one more time for some pizzelles — I figure these baked goodies I can take on the road. And although I probably hadn't thought of them for years, pizzelles are one food I associate strongly with my childhood and my grandmother, Nona.

Hanover Street in the North End.

I came to Boston looking for good seafood, but I think it will be the foods of the North End that I remember most. I've really felt the lack of a Little Italy in DC since I've been there — I tried and failed just to find a place to buy cannoli shells. Granted, if the past few days are any indication, if I did live somewhere near an Italian enclave, I would rapidly gain gargantuan amounts of weight as I sucked down Italian pastries, pasta, and fried goodness — especially if I wasn't walking what I'm estimating as 4-6 miles each day.

So it's some pizzelles for the road to appease the fourth of me that's Italian, because tomorrow I'm headed to Maine on the Downeaster.

1 comment:

Patricia said...

I wish I could have gone to Boston with you! Yay for the Union Oyster House! I ate there my second trip in Boston...first time I ever had New England Clam Chowder. Yeah...little hard to find chowder to beat that now. :) Can't wait to hear about the trip!