Friday, June 11, 2010

A Cannoli and an Alligator

I’ve just returned from a fabulous and relaxing family vacation at the beach and am primed and ready to make up for my absence on the blog with a snazzy recount of this perfect week of culinary delight. We stayed in Pawley’s Island/Litchfield Beach, South Carolina. Steps away from the seafood capitol of the state, the food did not disappoint. It was a combination of cooking in at the house where we stayed (after all, there’s nothing quite like people going nuts over food that you’ve slaved over making yourself) and also jaunts out to favorite and new foodie hotspots.

There are certain places that I could go to for the rest of my life, order the exact same thing and die a happy woman. The Ultimate California Pizza Kitchen (mind you, not all California pizza is created equal) is one such place (http://www.ultimatecaliforniapizza.com/). I’ve been going there for about 15 years and refuse to deviate from the Big Kahuna. It’s divine and has all but the kitchen sink and Banana Peppers (as I’m not a massive fan of those on pizza). The Smoked Gouda makes the difference. Why don’t I do this at home!? I mean, don’t we ALL have a wheel of Smoked Gouda on the second shelf of the frig? In between munching on Pizza and gazing at the array of surfboards mounted about the restaurant, I began dreaming of a bakery we’d passed on the way. My husband asked me what I wanted to do next and my immediate answer was “Landolfi’s!” So we drove to explore this tiny little bakery where the sign out front was what hooked me – Italian Pastries.

It was almost 5pm and we sauntered in just before they locked the doors. Much to my surprise and dismay – there was NOTHING left on the shelves or in the refrigerated display case. How can this be? The hog-like couple ahead of us literally bought the rest of the Fruit Covered Cheesecake and 4 Cannoli’s and a man rushed in begging for the order of Chocolate Eclairs he’d called in earlier. I was standing there dispairingly looking at Biscotti crumbs and two lonely empty Cannoli shells. The guy behind the counter explained they open every morning at 10 and there is a line waiting outside when they unlock the doors. “You’ve got to get here early for the best selection.” I felt helpless. My dreams of this bakery had left me salivating on the floor with nothing left but crumbs?! He told me they fill Cannoli’s on the spot and so thankfully I could have one of those. Mind you, a Cannoli is my all time favorite Italian dessert and I am hard pressed to ever pass one up. He pulled out a pastry bag of Cannoli filling the size of my head from a secret separate refrigerator and made me a Cannoli on the spot – asking if I wanted Chocolate Chips and Powdered Sugar. Obviously we’d never met and he didn’t know me. OF COURSE I wanted both in abundance.

As my husband ushered me to the car, I had the Cannoli out of the box and into my mouth where I let out the biggest contented sigh and accidentally blew the Powered Sugar across the entire dashboard. It was bliss. Creamy and sweet delicious Ricotta filling wrapped around a homemade fried shell. Divine. Pure and simple. I had to go back for more. Unfortunately I had to wait until 10am the next morning when they reopened.

My husband loves to fish – salt water or fresh, he’s marvelous at it and I wish he’d have his own show on some outdoorsy network. He’d be an Emmy winner for sure. He brought the fishing poles along and hopped around the various country clubs, fishing in their lakes with our 3 year old. They caught multiple gigantic bass and well, a 5 foot alligator to boot. We had scoped out a spot that looked ideal and I had the video camera running as he baited the “Lightning McQueen” 2.5 foot red fishing pole and cast the line before handing it to our son. A zillion turtles came up and started eating the bait. Lovely. My son is excited and then horrified as a 5 foot alligator swims up and bites the bobber like it’s a piece of candy. Thank goodness we’re safely on a bridge, as I’m about scared out of my mind and ready to put on a pair of Depends. The alligator eats the bobber and while it would’ve made an amazing pair of high heels with matching clutch, we cut our losses when my husband set him free. This is all slightly unnerving to the faint of heart (me). There are signs everywhere advising us to not feed the alligators – but my son decided the alligator needed a Cinnamon Raisin Bagel. How we lived through this is a miracle. You’re welcome to come over and relive this experience that I caught on tape. I told you my husband should have his own fishing show.

The dawn of a new day has me anticipating the opening of Landolfi’s once again. I’m determined to be the early bird that catches the Pastry. As my husband and one son set off for yet another fishing adventure, I whisk my parents and infant back to the bakery. We got there at 10:30 and most of the Biscotti was gone, but thankfully the other 20 desserts had enough still intact for me to have a mouth watering selection. There was Chocolate Covered key lime pie, Profiteroles, Eclairs, Crème Puffs, Cannoli, Napoleon Rum Cake, Cheesecake with Fruit, fresh Breads and an array of Pastries with pine nuts and other fun stuff labeled in Italian that I cannot pronounce. One simply cannot decide on just one, so I had three. I started off with what they call a Lobster Tail – a crunchy flaky crust with a Cannoli and Whipped Cream filling. Amazing! Then I moved on to a Profiterole – much like a cream puff, covered in Chocolate and filled with a mixture of Whipped Cream and Custard. Could life get better? The third (am I in a sugar coma yet?) involved a rich Flourless Chocolate Torte, covered in Raspberries and then completely enrobed in Chocolate. Eat your heart out. I’ve died and gone to heaven. It’s marvelous. Quite possibly the best things I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. We won’t mention calories as it was after all, a vacation and I splurged. If you’re ever in Pawley’s Island and drive past Landolfi’s, bring the car to a literal screeching halt and immediately go in – you won’t regret it.

There were more food adventures, but alas, I’ve got a potluck dinner to attend tonight and I’ve got a savory Tomato Basil Tart and a Peppermint Ice Cream dessert to make. Much to do!

Have a delicious weekend!

6 comments:

  1. There is an Italian Market in Indian Trail across from Sun Valley High's fields that you would enjoy. Cannolis are great. Meatballs are great. Just great!

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  2. Do share the name of it Julianne - I must go! : )

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  3. It is Catapano's Taste of Italy. I heard they made delicious rice balls. They were gone when I got there. They do a family meal deal for $15. They make their own bread!

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  4. The Italian Market in Sun Valley is about a mile from our new house. You should stop by our house if you go there.

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  5. It's funny - we tried to go to Landolfi's just last week and they were closed. We thought we were going for dinner so we showed up around 5:30 to an empty parking lot. We moved on to Pastaria 311 (or something like that) and enjoyed it, but I'll be interested in Landolfi's next time I'm in Litchfield. Also, next time you're there, make the short drive to Georgetown and eat at Rice Paddy. Not totally kid friendly, but maybe you and Rob could go one night on your own!

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