Straight from the lens of my son’s camera in San Bruno, California are two winning photos with the caption: SO BAD, BUT SO GOOD! Clearly, this is the latest in food truck rage — not yet seen on the East Coast to my knowledge. Cannoli! Specialty filled cannoli to rival the niche marketing of tacos, botanical ice creams, yeasty waffles, summer slushes, and hummus with hubris (the Taim Mobile), for our daily affections. But the Roamin’ Cannoli truck wins my heart. Whereas, cannolo is the correct terminology for a single pastry, cannoli is the name given to two or more pastries. In that sense, the spelling on the side of the darling cannoli carriage is correct, as there are THREE varieties to choose from. You can have any flavor for $4 bucks. The “Not So Traditional” is filled with sweet mascarpone and goat cheese, orange zest, and TCHO dark chocolate chunks. The “Lemon Meringue” is filled with smooth lemon cream and dried meringue stars. The “White Raspberry Brulee” is filled with El Rey white chocolate filling, fresh red raspberries and bruleed sugar edges. According to the empirical evidence, “meringue stars,” my son, no doubt chose the “Lemon Meringue.”
I am quite certain I would have had the “Not So Traditional.” And Jeremy’s grandmother, who lived to be 90, loved cannolis but would not have wanted any of these. Anne Frieda Whiteman would have opted for a cannolo at Ferrara’s in New York’s Little Italy. I read that they make their cannoli shells with red wine — to impart the requisite hue to the crispy pastry tubes — whereupon they are filled with a sweet ricotta filling and maybe a dash of almond extract, a few mini chocolate bits or some crushed pistachios. More than the delicious noodle pudding she used to make (written about by award-winning author Arthur Schwartz in his tome “Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited”), this was the ultimate in sweets. Anne, who never got use to leaving a message on an answering machine (she called it “the monster”), would certainly not cozy up to a dose of goat cheese in her beloved treat. (But then again she put corn flakes on her noodle pudding. Risky business in her day.) Boy do we miss her.
In my first 1-2-3 book, Recipes 1-2-3: Fabulous Food Using Only Three Ingredients, is a curious recipe for “Cannoli Custard.” I recommend serving it with biscotti for dipping and ice-cold shots of Strega. Espresso to follow.
Cannoli, by the way, are of Sicilian origin, and in Italy are commonly known as “cannoli Siciliani.” Someday history may tell us they were invented in San Bruno, California.
Thank you, Jeremy, for the photos and the memories and a brand new trend to add to your father’s list.
Cannoli Custard (from Recipes 1-2-3)
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
9 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon rum extract
Gently whip the ricotta, sugar, and rum extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Do not over-mix. Divide equally among 4 martini glasses and chill well. Sprinkle additional confectioners’ sugar, pressed through a sieve, over the top before serving. Serves 4