I like the story of Wallace, Idaho, and the spunk of its citizens, from the miners, madams and rail magnets of the 19th century to the locals that saved the place in the 20th. Residents made a smart move here in the 1970s and had the entire downtown placed on the National Register of Historic Places. That meant the feds couldn't come in with wrecking balls and asphalt and run four lanes over 100+ years of colorful history.
They had to engineer a mile-long interstate over the town. We never pass this northern Idaho gem without a quick stop for a shot of espresso and a stroll atop its historic sidewalks. But the last time there we arrived at an odd hour, and our regular spots were closed. We walked the other direction and found the D & G Bakery.
Caffeine was mandatory, and the mini cheesecakes were intriguing. “That’s what I'm known for,” owner Anne Alexander exclaimed from behind the counter, her New York-Italian accent quite apparent in those first five words. “Try one.”
My wife Jolica smiled two bites into a delicious mini huckleberry cheesecake and then said to Anne: “This is fabulous. Any chance you make cannoli?” My grandma made the best cannoli.
Anne said she could make some that would make me think of grandma, but she needed a day. We gave her 18 days’ notice, and planned to stop in Wallace again on our way to Montana on another trip. Grandma said 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 “secrets.” The key was the texture and the timing.
We gave Anne the required notice and arrived 18 days later. The bakery was actually closed that day, but Anne made an exception for a fellow Italian. Her husband John joined us to clank glasses and savor the cannoli Sicilian style, with a shot of espresso, a slight twist of lemon and a few drops of Sambuca.
It made me think of grandma, and heaven, as we ate until our “box for the road” was devoured.
A quick aside: After I joined Miles, our marketing director asked me for a title for my new business cards. "Title," I said, "do I have to have a title?" "Well, we like to put one on your cards," she replied.
So I suggested using "Cannoli King" until I thought of a better title. I was only kidding, but before I thought of something more appropriate, a box of Cannoli King business cards arrived. And since I had just gotten married in Italy, and had a Sicilian grandma who taught me how to make cannoli, I kept the cards -- and am still using them today!