Heading west from Montana or east from Washington atop Interstate 90, we always build in time to stop in the historic silver mining town of Wallace. Sometimes we stop for a pint at the brewpub, other times a shot of espresso and a pastry. Now we’ll stop for the cannolis.
A few weeks ago, heading east toward Seattle, we made our usual exit 62 stop. We walked by the quirky bordello museum, the stone chateau of the former Burlington Northern depot and our usual stops, then went into a different place. There on Cedar Street, behind the counter of the D & G Bakery, we met Anne Alexander.
I wanted caffeine and something sweet. “I’m known for my little cheesecakes,” Anne said, her Italian New Yorker accent coming out double-shot strong with each syllable. Two bites into a delicious mini huckleberry cheesecake, my fiancee, Jolica, said to Anne: “That was awesome. Any chance you make cannolis?”
Cannoli was my Italian grandma’s specialty dessert, and I’ll admit to being a cannoli snob. They’re hard to find because making them is labor intensive and they demand precise timing not always in synch with customer needs. Anne said, “I make the best, but I need at least a day’s notice.”
No worries, I said, giving her 18 days notice before our next trip across the top of Idaho.
Grandma used to say the perfect cannoli starts with a shell made from wheat, eggs, sugar and other “secret ingredients.” She would lightly fry the shell, then add a filling of cream, ricotta, chocolate chips and more “secret ingredients.” The keys were the texture and the timing.
Seventeen days later, we gave Anne the reminder call she requested, but she didn’t need it. The shells were done, and ready to be filled when we arrived. She noted, “we will have them like the Sicilian’s do: with a shot of espresso, a slight twist of lemon, and a few drips of Sambuca included.”
The bakery was actually closed that day, so we knew we were in for a special treat. Anne’s husband John joined us to clank glasses and savor an absolutely wonderful dessert. Then another. And one more for good measure.
We like traveling without reservations, but will now make an exception to that rule and call Anne to reserve cannolis whenever we’re 24 hours from Wallace. And although we won’t expect the off-day family treatment, we’ll bank on a welcoming smile and some fantastic Italian treats.
Written by Guest Blogger John Deleva