before i moved down to dc, i spent 4 years at school in baltimore. people say a lot of disparaging things about baltimore (most of which are based entirely on episodes of the wire), and granted, it did take a while for me to warm up to the city, but looking back it was a really incredible place to live. one of the things i miss most about baltimore is the food.
there’s akbar, with its excellent all-you-can-eat lunch buffet that exposed me to all sorts of new indian dishes, and sterlings, a literal hole in the wall seafood joint near my old house that still stirs up hunger pangs when i think about their crab cake sandwiches. by the way, i lived just around the corner from charm city cakes, duff goldman’s bakery on the food network’s ace of cakes (we never got the nerve to actually go in).
one of my fondest food memories is of vaccaro’s, an italian pastry shop located in the inner harbor’s little italy neighborhood. a two-story sit-down bakery and cafe, it’s a great place to end a night if you’re in the mood for authentic gelati or tiramisu. if you want the most for your money though, go on a monday night, where $12.95 will get you ALL YOU CAN EAT AND DRINK (alcohol excluded)
the game wasn’t merely to see if you could eat $12.95 worth of desserts, coffees, smoothies and gelati (that could be achieved in about 15 minutes). the real fun came from seeing just how far we could go in the 3 hours they give you to order. my personal best was somewhere between $30 and $40, but i watched others approach $60 in eclairs, amaretti cookies, cheesecake, and yes, cannolis.
luckily vaccaro’s has a branch here in dc, although it’s just a stand in the union station food court. still, i can satisfy my cravings if need be.
but the only thing better than buying a fresh cannoli is making one of your own. and get this – it’s really not as hard as you think! most recipes i found for the cannoli filling included some kind of flavoring with the ricotta. after making a batch of orange-tinged filling, i made another batch with nothing but ricotta and a touch of confectioner’s sugar. i definitely preferred the more stripped down filling, but then again, i could probably just eat a tub of ricotta for dinner and be happy.
the hardest part of the whole process is getting the dough really thin, and this is where a pasta roller could come in handy. but i didn’t let that small snag keep me from enjoying more than one of these cannolis.
one last thing: i’m going to be running in a 5k on june 6 to benefit the susan g. komen breast cancer foundation. i would be eternally humbled if you could be generous enough to sponsor me, even if it’s just a few pennies. every dollar really does count, so you can click here and hit the “donate to pete” button to donate if you are so inclined. thank you!