Savoring Federal Hill

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This past Saturday, my adventurous sister took me on a walking food tour of Federal Hill in Providence Rhode Island. Our guide Cindy Salvato is the real deal. The tour is called Savoring Federal Hill. It takes about 3 hours to complete. Those three hours include education, stories and samples. How could THAT be wrong?

It all started at De Pasquale Square, in the heart of Federal Hill. She warmly greeted us at Café Dolce Vita with coffee and wine biscuits. Cindy limits the tour to 14 people. Some people were back for another tour. That’s how good it is.                                                 Our tour started at Antonelli’s Poultry shop. It’s the only live poultry shop in Rhode Island. You can pick the bird you want and they will slaughter it for you. It’s not for the squeamish, but it’s very old school. I’ve heard family stories about this. You can buy roasting bones and feet for chicken stock. They did bring out a live quail and a partridge. They also sell eggs and other products.

Image 3                                                                                              Then we were off to Venda Ravioli on the Square. Cindy educated us about canned tomatoes and other foods. She explained about labeling of foods and certain certifications. We sampled a variety of olives and cheeses. I made a mental shopping list including braciole and Bolognese sauce. They had amazing raviolis including lobster. I forgot to buy olives. They offered different colored and sized olives. Next trip! They also had different counters with fresh meats, cold cuts, olives, and a café.

I was in such a food bliss, that I don’t remember the order of shops we visited, but I remember all of what they had to offer.

Scialo Brothers Bakery sent my sense of smell into a tizzy. The bakery had an apricot tart that called out to me. Carol Scialo brought us into the back for samples and the history of the bakeshop. We got to watch the original ovens blast on. It was amazing. So as to not embarrass yourself to the locals, the name is pronounced “shallow” like water.

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Tony’s Colonial was a short distance down Atwells Ave. I bought a fabulous fig balsamic. In Italy, balsamic vinegar is considered a condiment. My kind of people! They also had many dried pastas and olive oils.

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Across the street at Roma Gourmet we sampled some olive oil and the best salami and cheese I’ve ever had. I went back after the tour and did some shopping. The shop had many imported dried pastas. Cindy told us how the preferred method of cutting pasta is with brass plates. Brass plates give the pasta a rough texture allowing sauce to adhere to it better. She also explained that thick pasta was good with thick sauce, and thin sauce pairs with thin pasta.

Gasbarro’s Wines is a premium wine shop, specializing in Italian and California wines. I loved walking in the cooler, set at 55 degrees and smelling like fresh cut wood. We sampled some wine. Since it was our last stop, I bought some Limoncello and some moscato.

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I’m sure I inadvertently omitted some other shops we visited. I was in such a food coma by the end of our tour. I did go home and cook for hours, dreaming about my next shopping trek to Federal Hill.

I highly recommend Cindy Salvato’s tour. She knows all the shop owners and peppers the tour with stories about Federal Hill Her food knowledge was inspirational. I went back and looked at her website after my tour. She is amazing!

So, book your tour with her. Federal Hill is very easy to get to. I had only been one other time, and walked past most of these shops. My next visit will be much more thorough. Here’s her website: Savoring Federal Hill.

Tell Cindy I said “hi”!

 

 

 

Olive to try some balsamic vinegar

 

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Recently hubby and I ventured to Providence Rhode Island. It was my first outing since surgery. We went to lunch in Federal Hill and then headed out to a wonderful bakery on Hope St. called Seven Stars Bakery and across the street to an independently owned specialty vinegar and olive oil tasting bar called Olive del Mondo.

At Seven Stars we splurged on some freshly baked bread and pastries. I want to go back on a Friday and try their Challah bread. We bought olive bread and some lemon cakes and chocolate croissants. At Olive del Mondo we bought delicious oils and vinegar. If you’ve never sampled different vinegars and oils you must. Try a local tasting bar like Olive del Mondo. They have everything on tap for sampling and pouring. We came home with a strawberry balsamic vinegar and an 18 year aged balsamic vinegar that is life changing.

That night I made a strawberry salad and used the strawberry balsamic. It was amazing. The strawberry balsamic was fruity but not sickly sweet. The aged balsamic is so flavorful. I always pooh-poohed all the foodies going on about aged balsamic. But aged balsamic is so much better than the store-bought balsamic. It brings a new dimension of flavor.The flavor is fruity with a subtle richness. This will make a summer of salads so much more delightful.

This shop has different sized bottles with very reasonable prices. We also bought a herb infused olive oil for dipping. For $32 we bought the two 200 ml sized olive oils and the vinegar. What a great gift idea. Some bread, some cheese and olive oil.  They have gift baskets and they ship. If you’re not local to Providence, find a tasting bar in your area.

Balsamic is not only for salads. Our friend Diana came over last night for dinner with our daughters. Dianna introduced us to both shops. She loves food. Dianna poured the strawberry balsamic vinegar over vanilla ice cream and brownies. It was fantastic. I would have never thought of it, but it paired beautifully with ice cream. She took a leap and tried something. It turned out to be fantastic. We ate all the brownies, but I will finish today with some vanilla ice cream and strawberry balsamic. Be adventurous with food!

Amare la vita e il buon cibo! Love life and good food!