Monday, June 23, 2014

Travel: North End Food Tour

Paula, our tour guide
When my good friend Carole came for a visit, we took a food tour of the North End.  For those unfamiliar with Boston, the North End is a half square mile area, considered the "Italian" area of Boston.  It’s a charming place, with a lot of community spirit.  There are more than 100 Italian restaurants, cafes, bakeries and independent shops. 

Our tour was through Off the Eaten Path Tours (click here for a link to their website).  Paula, the owner and our tour guide, is a Massachusetts native who is not only knowledgeable about food, but also about the history of the North End.

Our first stop was at casual Italian eatery, where we were served Sicilian pizza and arancini balls (fried rice balls stuffed with meat, cheese and peas).  Both were delicious-the day was off to a good start!  

Next, we sampled bombolotti pasta with marinara sauce.  Bombolotti is best described as a giant wagon wheel pasta-the extra surfaces cause it to become well sauced.  It was amazing!  Kevin and I ate there the night I wrote this post-he ate the bombolotti pasta, and I had a chicken and eggplant dish.  Both were wonderful, and I'm so glad Paula introduced us to this gem of a restaurant!

We then sampled white and red wines at a “natural” wine shop, where we learned that “natural” wine is often organic and has minimal, if any, additives.  That shop is now my go-to wine shop because the owners are helpful and well-informed, the prices are reasonable and they even have a bicycle delivery service.

What goes better with wine than chocolate?  We sampled locally made, small batch chocolates and candies.  Of course we had to buy a few… 

A stop at a coffee and spice shop was next, and then we learned about and sampled olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  We then visited an artisanal bread bakery and sampled their French baguette.  Yum!

The cherry on the top of the sundae was visiting a local café, where we sampled cannoli, gelato and espresso.  What can I say?  Everything was to-die-for! 

Taking the tour was a great experience!  Paula’s passion and enthusiasm for food and her love of the North End were infectious.  Before the tour, I had curtailed my visits there because of the distance from my home.  I’ve now decided to shop and dine there more often to support the local businesses.  Of course the restaurants and shops we visited will be at the top of my list!

Carole and me

Carole and the bombolotti pasta

the "natural" wine shop

the candy shop

the bread bakery

café treats

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