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Browsing Italian Bookstores: Good for the Heart and Mind

I AM Books (photo courtesy Renee Kristine Ricciardi)

What could be better than strolling the aisles of a bookstore, where one may choose a selection from among hundreds, balance the weight of a hard or soft cover volume in one’s hand, sniff the paper as one turns the pages, listen to the sheets softly ruffle with ample promise beneath his or her fingertips, knowing that the gem in your hand represents something akin to the mystery of turning wine into blood, or rather the transformation of ink into imagination? If you’re like me and enjoy perusing bookstores, a pastime that’s both comforting and stimulating at the same time, ...

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Here at last: North End’s story on film

Pasto - Film Image

In July 2013, I wrote about the North End Historical Society’s documentary. I had thought that the film would be premiered in early 2014. I was optimistic. Nevertheless, good things come to those who wait, and the film was finally premiered on Jan. 20, 2016 at Suffolk University’s Modern Theatre on Washington Street – and with our thanks to Suffolk University and John Nucci. This is only its first showing, and there are many others planned. The film is called “Boston’s North End: An Italian American Story.” As the title indicates, it is not so much a documentary history as ...

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Boston Wine School’s Jonathan Alsop

Jonathan Alsop

Years ago, when I lived closer to Boston and first started off trying to understand the world of wines, I searched for fun ways to learn about wine. One of the ways I chose to begin my wine journey was by attending wine classes and one of the places I selected was the Allston-based Boston Wine School, owned and operated by Jonathan Alsop. Jonathan not only established the Boston Wine School, he is also an author of “The Wine Lover’s Devotional: 365 Days of Knowledge, Advice & Lore for the Ardent Aficionado. ” My article this month shares with you ...

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Love blooms on the slopes


Why not make the most of this cold, snowy time of year like I do, by strapping on a pair of skis or a snowboard and hurtling down the nearest mountain? As a native Buffalonian who’s grown up on the slopes of Kissing Bridge and Holiday Valley ski resorts, as well as a decades-long resident of New England who’s braved sub-zero temperatures in winter, I figure: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Many Italians also hit the slopes, here and in Italy, because it’s a great way to transform the winter doldrums into winter fun. Though, whenever I ski ...

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World War II and the North End


In his book, International Conflict in an American City: Boston’s Irish, Italians, and Jews, 1935-1944, Rodney Stark discusses the conflicts between Irish, Italians, Blacks, and Jews before and during World War II. The book is a reminder that a war which eventually became a paradigm of ethnic unity was preceded by often acrimonious inter-ethnic battles about the fascism, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, Roosevelt’s’ WPA, Mexican anti-clericalism, and growing anti-Semitism. We get some insight into this in some letters between William Foote Whyte and North Ender Frank Luongo, which I found in Whyte’s archives at Cornell University. Whyte, who had ...

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A New Year of Italy Uncorked


Welcome to the 2016 of Italy Uncorked. Boy time flies. A new year and lots to look forward to. Italy Uncorked this year will be featuring more interviews with winemakers, wine shop owners and importers, featured wine events, discussing more wine regions within Italy and the unique wines grown throughout Italy that you may not be aware of. The goal of this column is to help you understand Italian wines better and to acquaint yourself with some of the top wine folks in the Italian wine industry in and around the Boston area. I’m not one for setting New Years’ ...

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The Meals Who Make Us What We Are

Seven Fishes! (photo courtesy Austin Kleon)

One of the things that came out of my article on “The Eternal Italian Debate: Gravy vs. Sauce” was that Italian Americans don’t agree on everything. Some people wrote to me that they never called “it” gravy, that it was not gravy, but that it was sauce. Some said the opposite. I had concluded my article by saying that “What is sauce for the goose is gravy for the gander.” I call it gravy and I still do. But this article is not about gravy. It is a little bit about the foods that went with the holidays of Thanksgiving ...

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas… and Nana’s Cooking Seven Fishes!


Imagine stepping out of the blustery, snowy, icy, dark December cold and into a warm, brightly lit, steam-windowed, pots-bubbling-over kitchen where the white-haired, aproned chefs cease their chopping, broiling, and stirring just for a moment to enfold you into their tender, welcoming arms, and then order you and your entire family to sit down and eat while they proudly serve up course after course of the most aromatic, succulent, and mouth-watering dishes ever to come out of an 8×8 room. Aah, the delectable wonder of Christmas Eve. When I was growing up, my family embraced the Christmas Eve tradition of ...

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The holidays are upon us and it’s a wonderful time of year to spend time with family and loved ones. Lots of parties are taking place everywhere and we’re surrounded by food and holiday beverages. This time of year can bring a lot of questions about what to get someone for a special gift or what to bring to that next party you’ll be attending. Choosing a bottle of wine for yourself or a gift can be quite intimidating when walking into a wine shop that has hundreds of bottles to choose from. In sticking with the theme of Italian ...

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What is the next “hot” neighborhood for homes?

(photo courtesy Mark Moz)

A lot of clients ask me where to find the next “hot spot” to purchase; and without a crystal ball it’s pretty challenging to answer that question. Obviously, close proximity to a University is top on the list; however there are other factors in play. For example, since I can remember, East Somerville and Winter Hill have been underdeveloped. With the redevelopment of Assembly Square we’ve had both developers and wealthy young professionals choose to invest in those great neighborhoods. With development comes a sense of a new community and especially new dining options. If you haven’t attended the East ...

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Can’t keep those hands down!


My friends can see me talking from a mile away, even with my back turned. I’m the one with my hands gesticulating in the air, sometimes with elegant precision as I speak on my cell phone, sometimes with wild abandon as I’m ordering a sandwich. That’s because I was raised in an Italian household. Italians are typically expressive, passionate, and animated when communicating with others. It’s a demonstration of engagement and interest. Have you ever seen an Italian converse with his or her hands in their pockets? Never happens. Italians, young and old, male or female, gesture naturally. Whether they’re ...

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Wine tasting to get into the fall season


I love the fall for so many reasons. The weather is refreshingly cool, the foliage is eye catching, there are fun activities of apple and pumpkin picking, plus, lots of yummy treats. In addition, this time of year is a perfect time for you to break outside your typical wine selection and explore other wines. Many wine shops in and around your area host Grand Tastings. These events typically will showcase anywhere between 20 and 50 wines from around the world … free of charge! My highlight fall wine tasting was the Kobrand Tour d’Italia hosted at the Legal Sea ...

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