Category Archives: Festival

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Most Precious Blood Church

Periodically, there’s an article about how Little Italy is dead or dying. Yes, it’s more of a tourist destination and less of a neighborhood where Italian people live. There are still some Italians there, and there are Italian-American-owned businesses there. A recent article in the New York Times made me want to write a series on Little Italy Isn’t Dead and feature some of the businesses there.

Most Precious Blood Church

In 1891, the first part of the Most Precious Blood Church was built by the Scalabrini Fathers and later the Franciscans, who took over funding. It served the local Italian-immigrant community. Mulberry Street became home to immigrants from Naples who celebrated that city’s patron saint, San Gennaro. Most Precious Blood Church is the National Shrine of San Gennaro, and this is the site of the San Gennaro festival that occurs each September.

The church has a mass and the procession of the saint’s statue begins from the church’s front entrance on Baxter Street. There is also a shrine to San Gennaro inside as well as a beautiful grotto.

Another entrance is on Mulberry Street as well as a courtyard where you can pin a dollar on the statue of San Gennaro during the festival. Now, the church has masses in English and Vietnamese.

 

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Top 10 Foods to Get at NYC’s San Gennaro Festival

This list of top 10 foods to get at NYC’s San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy is the definitive guide to the traditional foods eaten by Italian Americans.

1. If you try nothing else at the San Gennaro festival, you have to try cannoli.

La Bella Ferrara cannoli

Where to get cannoli:  the legendary Ferrara on Grand Street and Mulberry, La Bella Ferrara on Mulberry, Caffe Palermo on Mulberry, Caffe Roma corner of Mulberry and Broome.

2. Sausage and peppers sandwiches–When Italians go to festivals, this is what they get.

Where to get sausage and peppers–at a stand.

3.  Zeppole are fried dough balls in powdered sugar–a staple of Italian festivals.

Where to get zeppole–at a stand.

4.  Clams

Where to get clams–at a stand, Umberto’s Clam House on Mulberry.

5.  Pizza/calzones

Where to get pizza/calzones–Sal’s on Broome Street (the fried calzone is to die for!), the first pizzeria in America–Lombardi’s on Spring Street.

6.  Torrone–Italian nutty nougat confection

Where to get torrone–at a stand or at Ferrara on Grand.

7.  Italian cookies

Where to get Italian cookies–the legendary Ferrara on Grand, La Bella Ferrara on Mulberry, at a stand.

8.  Gelato

Where to get gelato–Ferrara on Grand, Caffe Roma on Broome, Mo on Mulberry.

9.  Pasta

Where to get pasta–Puglia on Hester, Vincent’s on Hester/Mott, Angelo’s of Mulberry Street, Benito One on Mulberry.

10. Italian pastries

Where to get Italian pastries–the legendary Ferrara on Grand Street and Mulberry, La Bella Ferrara on Mulberry, Caffe Palermo on Mulberry, Caffe Roma corner of Mulberry and Broome.

–Dina Di Maio

Dina’s 10 Favorite Things About Fall in NYC

Hope you enjoyed my summer of New Jersey, but now that it’s almost fall, it’s time to go back to the city.  I love every season in New York City.  Each season has something unique about it.  These are the things I love about fall/autumn in New York City.

  1. Everyone’s back from summer vacation, including celebrities.  I think this is one of the best times of year for celebrity sightings.
  2. The lecture circuit is open again with interesting talks at many different venues.  (Yes, I am a nerd.)
  3. San Gennaro Festival in September–I love the ten-day festival in Little Italy and try to go as many times as I can. I like the Mass, procession, and of course, the food.
  4. New York state apples at the Union Square Greenmarket.
  5. Brooklyn Book Festival–A great place for literary-types like me to get our fix. So many great independent and small press publishers. I always find something interesting here.
  6. Mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival–I enjoy going to Chinatown to get mooncakes at the local bakeries.
  7. Columbus Day Parade–I have marched in the parade before.  It is a great way to celebrate my Italian culture and share it with the world.
  8. Village Halloween parade–This is an event not to be missed. I have marched in the parade many times.  It is a lot of fun to see the creative costumes and have a crazy night out in the Village.
  9. Leaves changing color at Central Park.
  10. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade–OK, you have to do this parade at least once. Known for its giant balloons, the parade is a must-see, especially if you know someone who works along the parade route, like I did, and can watch it from the comfort (and warmth) of inside.

me marching in the Village Halloween parade

Central Park in fall

Brooklyn Book Festival

–Dina Di Maio

Gluten Free St. Joseph’s Day Zeppole

zeppole, sfince, sfinge

Happy St. Joseph’s Day! Now, everyone can partake in the festivities with a gluten-free version of zeppole or sfince/sfinge di San Giuseppe. I used the basic gluten-free cream puff recipe from King Arthur Flour. However, I did not have gf King Arthur flour on hand, so I used a homemade blend. My blend is from the all-purpose flour blend in Gluten Free & More magazine with a little tweak.

Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend

1 1/2 cups sweet rice flour

3/4 cup tapioca starch

3/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

OK, so you will still use 3/4 cup of this flour blend to make the cream puffs. Follow the directions for cream puffs. I spooned generous tablespoons of dough onto the parchment paper. For me, it made 8 cream puffs. When they are cooled, you will add the ricotta filling.

Ricotta Filling

about 2 lbs. ricotta (or two containers, some containers are 15 oz.), drained in a colander or cheesecloth to remove excess water

1 cup confectioners’ sugar (or to taste, if you like it more or less sweet)

milk, optional

chocolate chips

candied citron or orange peel

crushed pistachios

maraschino cherries

Mix the ricotta and sugar. If it is too thick, add a bit of milk (not too much because you don’t want it liquidy). If you want, you can add some chocolate chips or candied citron. You can also decorate them with candied citron, candied orange peel, crushed pistachios, and/or a maraschino cherry.

–Dina Di Maio

San Gennaro Festival 2016

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New Yorkers are a resilient bunch with much pride in their city.  The bombing in Chelsea on September 17 would not deter them from carrying on.  The bombing occurred only two days into the ten-day San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy, but it didn’t keep the crowds from coming.  That’s good because it’s an important year for the festival–its 90th anniversary.

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September 19 is the feast day of San Gennaro and that is the day organizers celebrated with a mass and procession from the doors of the Most Precious Blood Church on Baxter Street around Canal Street and up through Mulberry Street.

Most Precious Blood Church

Most Precious Blood Church

This year’s grand marshal was Joe Causi.  A Bronx Tale‘s Chazz Palminteri also made an appearance at the festival.  (Tony Danza was the grand marshal of the parade last year, but this year,  I had my second run-in with the actor.  I was shopping in Alleva Dairy, the country’s oldest Italian cheese store, when a man said, “Excuse me, ma’am,” and brushed past me.  It was Tony.  Years ago, I ran into him on Bleecker Street and I asked for a photo to which he rudely said no.)

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Before Mass, I pinned a dollar on the statue of San Gennaro and got a pamphlet about him as well as a pin and prayer card.  Inside the church, there is a large presepio (Nativity scene) from Naples on display.

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Street vendors sell everything from American food to fair festival food like roasted corn,

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to pizza and cannoli

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to Italian tchotchkes

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to traditional Italian foods like these Italian cookies, taralli, mostaccioli and biscotti.

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I ate at Sal’s Pizza on Broome near Mulberry for pizza, sausage and broccoli rape.  At Sal’s, you get a side order of pasta with your entree, the traditional way.

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For dessert, some cassata and coffee at Caffe Palermo.

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Weekend Whets 5/30

5th Annual Crawfish Boil, Saturday, May 31, 2014, 1 p.m., 3 p.m. or 5 p.m., Sycamore Flowershop + Bar,1118 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn:  $25 for a large bucket of crawfish and a pint of seasonal Abita Beer.

New Taste of the Upper West Side, through May 31, 2014, Columbus Circle between 76th and 77th Streets, Upper West Side, Manhattan:  Celebrate UWS restaurants and chefs with food tastings and music.

Annual Hawai`i Potluck Picnic in Central Park, Sunday, June 1, 2014, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Summit Rock, Central Park, Manhattan:  Hawaiian style potluck with ono food, kanikapila Hawaiian music and hula.  Bring something to share for the potluck.

Caviar in the Park, Sunday, June 1, 2014, 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Heckscher Playground, 65th Street Transverse, Central Park, Manhattan:  Food from Cafe Habana, No. 7 Sub, Momofuku Milk Bar and more with outdoor games and live music.  $20.

Taste of Times Square, Monday, June 2, 2014, 46th Street between Broadway and 9th Avenue, Restaurant Row, Manhattan:  Enjoy tastings from area restaurants.

Slow Food NYC’s annual (s)low down fundraiser, Thursday, June 5, 2014, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Astor Center, Lafayette Street, Manhattan:  Slow Food’s annual fundraiser with food and cocktail tastings and bluegrass music.  Tickets $130+.

Texas Chili Cook-off, Saturday, June 7, 2014, Noon to 5 p.m., West 79th Street Boat Basin, Upper West Side, Manhattan:  Chili tastings and competition.

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, Saturday & Sunday, June 7 & 8, 2014, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Madison Square Park, Manhattan:  Sample bbq from well-known bbq restaurants around the country.

Dinner with Ruth Reichl, Sunday, June 8, 2014, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Contrada, East Village, Manhattan:  Four-course dinner with Ruth’s reading and discussing her new book Delicious!.

Summer by the Sea: The 29th Annual Chefs’ Tribute to Citymeals-on-Wheels, Monday, June 9, 2014, 7:30 p.m., Rockefeller Center, Midtown, Manhattan:  Fundraising event featuring food tastings from NYC area chefs.

Food Photography and Blogging Workshop, May & June, 2014, Private Dining Room (PDR) @ Naturally Delicious, Brooklyn: Four classes with Karen Wise on camera fundamentals, shooting in restaurants and editing images. $175 per class or $675 for all four.

Big Apple Barbecue, Saturday and Sunday, June 7 & 8, 2014, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Madison Square Park, Manhattan: Sample barbecue from around the country.

14th Annual Egg Rolls & Egg Creams Festival, Sunday, June 8, Noon to 4 p.m., Lower East Side:  Celebrate the food and culture of the Chinese and Jewish community of the area.

A Night of Film and Food, James Beard Foundation, Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 6:30 p.m., Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Lincoln Center, Manhattan:  Jiro Dreams of Sushi followed by a reception featuring some of New York’s finest chefs, sake, beer and wine.  $50-$70.

The Duckathlon presented by D’Artagnan, Saturday, June 14, 2014, Noon to 5 p.m., Metropolitan Pavilion, Chelsea, Manhattan:  Culinary competition.  Teams or singles.  $54-$60.

Taste of Bushwick, Monday, June 16, 2014 at 6:30 p.m., The Bushwick Starr, 207 Starr Street, Brooklyn:  Party with food from local restaurants.

Solstice Session at the Arrogant Swine, June 21, 2014, The Arrogant Swine, Brooklyn:  Celebrate summer solstice with a pig roast, pulled-pork sandwiches, local beers and cornhole.  $40.

Bryant Park BBQ, Wednesday, June 25th 2014, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Bryant Park, Midtown Manhattan:  Food from ’wichcraft for a summer bbq.  $60-$70.

A California Olive Oil Tasting, June 26, 2014, 3 p.m., SD26 Restaurant and WineBar,19 East 26th Street (between 5th and Madison Avenues), Manhattan: Taste different styles of olive oil and learn how it is produced.  $20-$35.

Brooklyn Eats, Friday June 27th, 2014, 630 Flushing Avenue, South Williamsburg, Brooklyn:  Brooklyn’s first food and beverage trade show.

Ham and Cheese Party, Monday, June 30, 2014, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., The Ides at Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn:  Prosciutto and award-winning cheeses.  Free.

Zeppole di San Giuseppe

Happy St. Joseph’s Day!

St Joseph

I had wanted to attempt homemade St. Joseph’s Day pastries in honor of St. Joseph’s Day, but I’ve been having a crazy week.  I halved the pastry recipe from Maria Lo Pinto’s cookbook.  They were yummy but not quite the bakery version.  I’d like to try them again when I have more time.  These are the Sicilian sfinge with ricotta filling.  The Neapolitan version is the zeppole with a custard filling.

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Also, it is a tradition to make macaroni with sardines today.  I’m on a sardines kick, so I may make this too if I am able to.