Day 2 of Boston, I had to make an early college tour, so breakfast was a fast broccoli and cheese omelet at a kind of forgettable restaurant. It was fine, nothing special. Onto bigger, better, more exciting meals. My next college tour just happened to be close to Chinatown, so we went back to explore some more Asian cuisine. While we were walking, we came upon… drum roll please… a food truck. I love food trucks so much. They’re the latest craze, and every time I see one, I just cannot resist. This food truck was called the Wow BBQ Truck. The menu consisted merely of a few options of veggie and meat skewers, and each skewer cost just $1.50. Yup, they were that cheap! They were small- only really a snack unless you want to buy about ten of them, so I got two to snack on while we walked. I got one beef and one shrimp skewer, both medium spicy. The beef was not too spicy but very very SPICE-y (if that makes any sense whatsoever). It was coated in a flavorful rub of cumin, hot pepper, and other bold spices. The shrimp freaked me out a little bit to be honest because it was a whole prawn… head and all. I made my dad eat the head, so I guess I kind of cheated, but the shrimp itself had the same aromatic and bold spices as the beef. Overall, a great snack.
The previous night at the hotel, my brother and dad were searching the best places to eat in Chinatown, and one of the places that they found was called Egg Puffs. I thought Egg Puffs was what they sold, but no. The name of the place was actually just called egg puffs and egg puffs were the only thing they sold. What are egg puffs you may ask? Well I had the same question. But I didn’t think my brother and dad were truly serious that they planned to stop at this place. Apparently, they were. After the food truck my mom and I trudged along while my brother and dad made a beeline for the mysterious Egg Puffs. We arrived at a small food cart with a station for sushi, one for bubble tea, and one for… Egg Puffs. And guess what the only thing on the menu was? You got it! Egg Puffs. No different flavors or toppings. Just plain old Egg Puffs.. So my dad hurried over to the cart to order this intriguing delicacy and a few minutes later, he triumphantly arrived at our table with a brown bag. Inside was a waffle. A warm waffle that had little round puffs instead of the characteristic square indents. It was a good waffle, and slightly sweeter and more, well..eggy.. than the typical waffle, but that was it. It was more of an experience than anything. We took pictures of my dad in front of the cart and got a good laugh out of it.
Dinner that night was the meal I had been waiting for ever since I found out we were going to Boston. I could not wait to try the restaurants in Boston’s Little Italy, the North End. In a guidebook, we had found a restaurant called Antico Forno, which was supposedly among the best Italian restaurants in Boston. The restaurant was a quaint, crowded place tucked inside the heart of Little Italy. The size and atmosphere gave it a homey appearance, and it felt like we were in a real Italian home. For an appetizer, we ordered a pizza to share- the Marinaro Pizza. This pizza was laden with buttery sautéed shrimp, smoked mozzarella, bright red cherry tomatoes and lots of fresh, peppery arugula. Their pizzas are baked in a brick oven, giving the crust a chewy bite. To die for. For my entrée, I ordered one of my favorite meals, Puttanesca. My mom, while not Italian in the slightest, makes the best Puttanesca ever. Pretty funny how both my parents’ specialty dishes come from countries they have nothing to do with, right? Puttanesca is a tomato sauce traditionally made with olives, garlic, capers, and anchovy paste. I know anchovy paste sounds disgusting, but when it’s in a sauce, it’s not and Putanesca just doesn’t feel right without it. When my mom makes Puttanesca, she cooks the sauce for at least two whole hours, and the house ends up smelling amazing every time, and her sauce is so good I could drink it. In all honesty, I do sometimes. So, I certainly had something incredible to compare Antico Forno’s Puttanesca to. Well, it was very very good, but I would have to say it would be ranked about an 8 if my mom’s is a 10. This Puttanesca lacked a few things, but did also add a few nuances that I absolutely loved. I was surprised to find that one of the most important ingredients in Puttanesca was absent in such an authentic-feeling restaurant– anchovy paste. Like I said before, Puttanesca just does not feel the same without it. It is a subtle salty flavor that completes the dish, but was probably removed because most people see anchovies on the menu and run the other way. I thought it needed the anchovies, but that’s just me. The other “ingredient” that was lacking in this dish was purely time. When my mom makes Puttanesca, you can tell that it was cooked low and slow, allowing the flavors to marinate and meld together to create a luscious sauce. The sauce in the dish I had was just a regular marinara sauce. A very good marinara sauce, but clearly not one that had been cooked for two hours. Understandable, since two hour preparation isn’t exactly realistic in a restaurant setting, but it could have used a little TLC. That being said, the dish had some definite strong points. The main one being CALAMARI!! My mom has made Puttanesca with shrimp before, but I never would have thought to add calamari. Genious. It cooked to perfection and went so well with the sauce and salty olives and capers. A+ for the calamari. Overall, while it was not the Puttanesca I grew up with, it was a great Puttanesca. The calamari sealed the deal.
Okay, now at this point, I was stuffed. So so full. But I was in Little Italy and insisted I could not leave Little Italy without trying an authentic cannoli. It was totally necessary. We searched and walked (or wobbled out of fullness) all around the North End to determine which of the bakeries was the busiest. We landed on Mike’s Pastry. This place was packed to the brim with eager customers. Along the walls were pictures and names of their twenty different types of cannolis. You heard me correctly: TWENTY. It’s a good thing there was a long line because making the decision as to which cannoli I would get was near impossible. When we were second in line, the man in front of us ordered a selection of about 20 different items, and turned around to us to explain that he’s from Chicago, but every time he is in Boston, he stocks up on pastries from Mike’s to bring home because they’re so good. I knew this place was a good choice! I finally settled on the Espresso Cannoli. OMG. Cannoli heaven. It was stuffed and overflowing with a heavenly coffee mascarpone filling and dipped on each side in mini chocolate chips. Hands down the best cannoli I have ever had. And it was HUGE. I only ate half because I was so full from dinner. Another very successful food day.