I am not a food writer, but I know an authentic, amazing and rare cannoli when I taste one (actually, I ate two!). I got such a treat recently when I visited David Baron at his new retail store, Dolce Europa, in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood.
Those in the food business may be familiar with David’s warehouse, which has been providing dessert, pasta and Italian food specialties to restaurants, delis and upscale food markets locally for five years. “But there was a demand for walk-in,” he says, so he opened a storefront about two months ago.
“The reason there are no cannoli here is that there are no Sicilians here,” he explains. “Because I love cannoli so much and I have relatives in Boston, I would go there and bring them home. People here didn’t know what it was. They would ask, ‘Do you put white sauce or red on it?’ They thought it was cannelloni.”
These crispy, tube-shaped shells (cannolo means ‘little tube’), with their creamy-sweet ricotta filling are 20 percent of his business now.
The three secrets to good cannoli are: whole milk ricotta, also nearly impossible to find on the health-conscious West Coast; filling the shell just before eating; and the challenge of making the shell itself, something now left to a few specialty bakeries in the Northeast. (The East Coast connection means that many of his products are kosher.)
David (say Dah-veed Bah-rone, as you would in Israel or France, two places the Los Angeles native has lived) has worked in the food business since the 1970s. Being in sales and marketing for the sadly defunct Torrefazione coffee made him an Italophile.
“I was Sur La Table’s first male employee,” he recalls about the store that started with a single location and single owner in the Pike Place Market. He also started www.Chefshop.com.
“I do a lot of education. That’s the reason for the storefront, too. People have stopped by just to see what it is.” Enough locals have caught the buzz that the store was busy in December. “We sold a ton over the holidays,” he says. “All these East Coasters came in.”
Sopranos fans will find the Neapolitan pastry, sfogliatelle, in the freezer case here. These are the ubiquitous “shfooyadell” the gangsters are always going out for — they use a Neapolitan-American pronunciation of the word.
Although he grew up in a very Jewish neighborhood, David had many Armenian and Greek neighbors.
“I became very open minded [about food] at an early age,” he says.
It helped that his mother grew up in an Orthodox home nestled in an Italian neighborhood in Philadelphia and was also adventurous with food.
A Seattle resident since 1979, David has lived in Madrona since 1983 with his life partner Roger Cibella, former director of admissions for University Preparatory Academy and now president of Cibella & Associates Admission Counseling. When they’re not working, David and Roger enjoy — you guessed it — eating! And travel.
“Roger knows everyone,” says David. “We go to Europe and we run into people he knows.”
Dolce Europa is on the Web at www.dolceeuropa.com, or reachable by phone at 206-329-4444, Tuesdays through Saturdays.
The board of directors of Hope Heart Institute has appointed Mark Nudelman their new president and CEO. Mark was previously the COO of the organization.
The institute is a leading cardiovascular research and education organization founded by Dr. Lester Sauvage in 1959.
Mark joined the institute in 2001 and has brought the organization some needed stability, according to a press release. As CEO, Nudelman will lead and manage the institute’s strategic direction, and research and education programs, as well as fundraising and development.
The Bellevue native has a business degree in hospitality management from Washington State University and was recently honored by WSU’s School of Business as an outstanding graduate. He worked in Maui after graduation and returned to Seattle to work at the Mayflower Park and Warwick hotels. In 1996, he became general manager for a resort in Jamaica and then faced the delicate task of having to close the facility. While there, he contended with a hurricane, a labor walkout and a massive power outage during the peak December holiday season.
Returning to the States, Mark made the transition into healthcare. After working in sales for Premier, the largest healthcare purchaser for hospitals, he then moved to the software protection startup Safeware. From there he went to Wellspring EAP, a former subsidiary of Hope Heart, before joining Hope as COO in 2001.
Mark and his wife Laura live in Sammamish with their three teenage daughters and belong to Temple De Hirsch Sinai. For fun, Mark says he enjoys traveling with his family and volunteering as a ring announcer at his daughter’s horse shows. (We might have to hear more about that another time.)