One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the quest for excellent holiday treats to share with the folks back home in Pittsburgh. So I am constantly in search of things that are really different, one of a kind.
In a previous post I mentioned how my family has fallen in love with soft torrone, both a blessing and a curse to me as I love sharing these items with them but the Modern Pastry stores are a bit out of the way for me and I am requested, nay, required to bring some home each time I visit. On my lunch break today I took a long lunch and made the shlep over to the North End to fetch the regular chocolate covered kind that is my family's favorite. When I arrived, I was not surprised to see the line almost out the door because of the holiday, which would have required about a half hour or more wait. However, by peeking at the front where the torrone was kept, I saw they were out, which is often the case over the holidays. Gasp! Does this mean Christmas just won't be Christmas? Nah. I was actually relieved I wouldn't have to wait the long wait, and I had a back-up plan.
So I sauntered over to a few other favorites. Salumeria Toscano to peek at the prosciutto and see if they had candied chestnuts (nope), Polcari's Coffee and Spices (the inside of this store smells like heaven to me) where I bought some chestnuts and found a great deal on quick polenta, and then over to Dairy Fresh Candy for Kinder Sorpresas (the Italian version of the chocolate egg with a toy inside. Supposedly the American versions have no toy as they are a choking hazard). I finished my journey at Maria's Pastry, a lovely place which is pretty much ignored by the tourists because they aren't able to find it. There I found torrone, not chocolate covered but it would have to do. As well as other treats -- a small ricotta pie, um, for me, and these lovely chocolate cookies, some with fig filling with a funny unpronounceable name. Yum!
So my North End quest was complete and I had a few new items to bring home. I'll add these to stash from Formaggio's kitchen -- chocolate covered figs, these wonderful fruit flavored sugar candies that melt instantly in your mouth, and small chocolate covered bits of pannetone. Oh and panforte from Dave's Fresh Pasta in Davis Square -- a truly Christmassy holiday dessert. I think I done good this year. The folks back home better be hungry!