Sometimes I think my soul is Italian.
For the past 20 years or so, I’ve been attracted to the culture, food and lifestyle of of Italy.
I haven’t been there yet, but it’s at the top of my list for international travel.
I’m not sure where this attraction stems from, but, it’s there and strongly. Maybe it’s because for almost 40 years, the man I believed to be my biological father was half Italian and it was a way for me to connect with what I thought was my “unknown heritage.”
When I turned 40 I decided to finally once and for all find out if “this man” was really my father. Long story short, after an official DNA test, I found out he was not. Shocked. A bit disappointed. Set free. I learned the truth. And I was at peace.
Even though he was not my father, he was kind enough to offer to be a “father-figure” when I needed it and since we developed a pretty good relationship over a short 30-day period prior to the DNA test, (it can happen quickly) I said yes. I still keep in touch with him from time to time and appreciate his generosity.
I’m soulfully drawn to Italy and it’s culture and cuisine.
So when I got invited to speak at the Women In Travel Summit in Boston, MA in 2015, I knew I had to make my way to the North End to experience the Italian neighborhood, and was specifically on the hunt for the best Cannoli in the city!
I got so many recommendations on where to find one. Mike’s Pasty and Modern Pastry topped the list of suggestions. I LOVE a good Cannoli and I’m kind of picky about them, as if I really know what an authentic Cannoli should taste like. Ha! Well, I know what I like and hey, I can be a Cannoli Connoisseur if I want to be right?
I heard that there was a “battle of the brands” so to speak between Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry. So I set out to see which brand had the BEST Cannoli in town and put my two cents into the conversation. Prior to attending the conference and arriving in Boston, I connected with a fabulous woman named Juliana, who loves Cannolis too. We agreed to meet up at the conference and enjoy a Cannoli together.
Somehow our plan didn’t work out that way but that didn’t stop me from getting my Cannoli craving satisfied. I set out on a culinary adventure to the North End. As soon as I stepped “into” the neighborhood, my soul felt home and alive. I still can’t put my finger on WHY all things Italian is so attractive to me but anyway, I fell in love with the cobblestone streets, the boutiques, the shops, the markets, the deli, the architecture, the people, the language, the conversations and the whole vibe of it all.
After swooning and salivating over the aroma of Italian everything and stopping in a few delicatessens, bakeries and pizzaria’s – I finally found Modern Pasty. The line was out the door and people were lined up to get their goodies. It sounds crazy to be excited about finding the perfect Cannoli but yep, I was. Modern Pastry had so many sweet-treats to choose from I started to get distracted but I stayed focused on that one thing – finding the KING Cannoli in Boston. I ordered one to go and headed out to find Mike’s Pastry.
Before I left the bakery, an older Italian man (speaking passionate Italian) was flagging me down trying to get my phone number. Ha! He had to be about 65 years old or so but he was relentless. He even followed me out of the store, smiling, speaking in Italian with a pen and a piece of paper in hand (while making the “call me” motion with his hands) — That was a bit alarming, charming and funny! Needless to say, I kept walking – I was on a mission!
Just a few blocks down, I saw the infamous yellow sign and again, a line outside of the door! Oh my gosh! Not only did they have a large case of Cannolis they had my 2nd favorite Italian treat, Gelato! Boy… I was in dolce heaven! There were so many Cannoli varieties to choose from but I kept it simple and ordered ONE classic Cannoli to go.
I was so tempted to sit down and try them both but instead, I stopped in a few more shops and stores and headed back to the hotel. I couldn’t wait any longer. The Cannolis were calling my name. I opened up each box and sat them side by side. I compared everything about them from the packaging, to the filling, to the shell… I mean everything.
After a couple of bites of each, I knew immediately which one was MY favorite. They both were delicious and were top-notch in their own right – But the winner for me, hands down was MIKE’S PASTRY!
I tend to prefer a more thick, rich and sweet Cannoli filling. I like the filling to have more of a Ricotta cheese taste than a smooth Mascarpone taste. Mike’s Cannoli was perfect. Perfect shell. Perfect filling. Just perfect. When I think of the BEST Cannoli, Mike’s was that and more. Now don’t get me wrong, Modern Pastry’s was scrumptious too but Mike’s was my favorite.
Ahhh! !I got my Cannoli and experienced North End. Right before I was about to take a taxi to the Airport, I thought to myself, “I sure wish Juliana was able to try these.” And then, she walked into the lobby with her mother. We were able to have our Cannoli tasting moment together. She liked them both but I believe Mike’s was her favorite too.
Yay! We actually had our “Cannoli Date” after all. What an amazing woman she is. I’m so glad we got a chance to meet at WITS15 and I’m sure we’ll stay connected and when we meet up again, we’ll be on the hunt for the next BEST Cannoli!
So in regards to the “Battle of the (Cannoli) Brands in Bean Town”, I prefer Mike’s Pastry and I will go back again the next time I visit Boston. I LOVED Boston! It was on my must experience list. If you like Cannolis, try both Mike’s and Modern Pastry for yourself, you’ll love them!
I might have to find the best Cannoli in Italy… but in the meantime, I’ll be on the hunt for the BEST one in the states. It’s kinda my own quirky little adventure and I love it!
Speaking + Traveling + Writing + Savoring Life = Soul Fulfillment! – That’s what MY soul CRAVES! How about you, what does your soul crave? What are your favorite foods to seek out when you travel? What destinations are on your MUST EXPERIENCE LIST? — Share in the comments section I really want to know!
My Version of soul therapy is not necessarily EAT. LOVE. PRAY but instead SPEAK. TRAVEL. WRITE & INDULGE (in life experiences).
Ciao! Until next time… savor life!
Modern Pastry Shop is an award winning, family owned Italian Bakery. Modern Pastry was created by our family over 70 years ago on Hanover Street in Boston’s North End. Three generations of innovative master chefs and over 150 years of authentic old world methods and experience, make our products stand out among the best.
The History of Mike’s Pastry and Family: That becomes a legend most? Photographs with the President? Visitors testimonials from all over the world singing the praise of Mike’s Pastry, in the press, in private, on the streets and by endless stories passed on from generation to generation in the traditional Italian way? -The streets of Boston’s North End have been in no small part defined by the ongoing legacy of Annette and Mike, their ancestors and enormous extended family and the spirit and inspiration brought to the North End of Boston by this neighborhood-defining family.