Tag Archives: Nina Damico

HAPPY EASTER FROM CAFFE SICILIA!

I love stopping in to visit Maria and Nina at Caffe Sicilia anytime of the year, but especially during the holidays. The bakery was humming today, with their regular customers as well as regional and international travelers, and their refrigerator brimming over with special Easter orders. Folks are still purchasing raffle tickets for Caffe Sicilia’s giant chocolate egg to benefit children with autism. What a gorgeous day for shopping downtown Gloucester. Happy Easter and Happy Spring! 

ORDER YOUR SPECIAL SAINT JOSEPH ALTAR BREAD, ROLLS, AND SWEET TREATS TODAY!

Preparations for St. Joseph celebrations are well underway throughout the City and our local bakers are baking up a storm. Saint Joseph rolls are available from Virgilios at 978-283-5395. 

Maria and her Mom and Dad, Nina and Domenic, at Caffe Sicilia are now taking orders for the special Saint Joseph altar bread, zeppole, sfinci, ravioli, and cassata cake, and they can be ordered by calling 978-283-7345.Can’t wait for Caffe Sicilia’s ricotta-filled St. Joseph Day doughnuts, or sfinci in Sicilian  

MAKING PIGNULATA WITH GRACE AND NINA AT CAFFE SICILIA

This past week I stopped by to say hello to Maria and her family at Caffe Sicila. Nina, Maria’s Mom, invited me to come and see she and her sister Grace making pignulata. Caffe Sicilia has dozens and dozens of orders for this wonderful traditional fried pastry desert and they had already begun the first stages several days ago. Nina explains it is most typically served in Sicilian homes around Christmas time, but also other holidays too. Making this treat is a multi-step process, and labor intensive in the volume undertaken by Caffe Sicilia. The sisters offered lots of tips for making the most delicious pignulata (also spelled pignolata) and I hope I am remembering all that they shared!

caffe-sicilia-pignulata-nina-copyright-kim-smithThe dough is rolled out, cut into marble-sized bits, and placed in cold oil.

It takes about fifteen to twenty minutes for the little marbles to puff up into marshmallow-size and brown evenly.

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caffe-sicilia-pignulata-5-copyright-kim-smith

The bits of dough are throughly drained and set aside for several days as they release more oil. When ready to mold the pignulata, a glaze made of boiled honey and sugar is poured over the fried dough.

Beautiful❣️(and wonderfully delicious)

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caffe-sicilia-pignulata-maria-copyright-kim-smith

Always-in-motion-Maria!

Nina and Grace grew up in Terrasini, Sicily, emigrating from Italy when they were young teens. The sisters talked about how back in their childhood days, most people did not have a kitchen oven. To bake their weekly bread and to bake treats during the holidays, families would take their loaves and cookies and cakes to the local town baker and “rent” their oven for a nominal fee. Cookies and cakes were placed on long, long wooden trays and carefully placed in the baker’s oven. Now everyone has their own oven, but most don’t bake nearly as much as they did in the old days.

Visit Caffe Sicilia and see their beautiful display of cuccidati (and every other kind of traditional Sicilian Christmas cookie), wonderfully sweet and spicy gingerbread cakes, cassata cakes, mini pignulata’s, Maria’s handmade marzipan fruits, and much, much more deliciousness!

Caffe Sicilia is located at 40 Main Street. For more information call 978-283-7345.

CAFFE SICILIA’S LAMBS OF EASTER

Maria Cracchiolo Lamb of Easter Pecorella di Pasqua Gloucester -3 2016 Kim SmithPecorelle di Pasqua are a traditional Sicilian Easter treat although, when Easter falls very close to Saint Joseph’s Day as it did this year, Maria shared that the Lambs of Easter are often found on Saint Joseph altars. Maria’s are so charming I am planning to purchase several to Not eat but to decorate our Easter table. They are very reasonably priced, especially considering all the work that is involved with making and how expensive is the marzapane.

Maria Cracchiolo Lamb of Easter Pecorella di Pasqua Gloucester -4 2016 Kim Smith

Each lamb is molded from almond dough and after drying, skillfully hand painted by Maria. I popped into Caffe Sicilia Wednesday morning to say hello and happily caught Maria just as she was beginning to paint and decorate the Easter lambs. We filmed her working with my movie camera for Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project and here is a glimpse with iPhone photos and Instagrams.

Bare tints of color for the marzapane lambs faces and ears

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Maria Cracchiolo Lamb of Easter Pecorella di Pasqua Gloucester -2 2016 Kim Smith

With thanks, appreciation, and the deepest gratitude to Maria Cracchiolo and her parents Nina and Domenic Damico for their continued help with Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project. From the project’s onset, they have opened their kitchen doors and very generously shared Sicilian traditions and baking techniques. We are so very fortunate to have Maria, her family, and Caffe Sicilia in our Gloucester Community. With thanks again to Mayor Sefatia for suggesting we knock on Maria’s door!

Happy Spring! Happy Easter!

Maria assembling the Easter lambs

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Maria Cracchiolo Lamb of Easter Pecorella di Pasqua Gloucester 2016 Kim Smith

 

A SEA OF ZEPPOLES (AND SFINCI, TOO)!

Caffe Sicilia’s sea of zeppoles, and sfinci, too!

Caffe Sicilia Maria Domenic sfinci Saint Joseph. 2016 Kim SmithSfinci

Caffe Sicilia Maria Domenic zeppole -2 Saint Joseph. 2016 Kim Smith .JPGZeppole in progress 

So many thanks to Maria, Nina, and Domenic for their continued help with Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project. 

Caffe Sicilia Maria Domenic zeppole Saint Joseph. 2016 Kim Smith

Live Saint Joseph sfinci making with Caffe Sicilia's Nina – part one

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About ready to eat one of these amazing puffs of yumminess – Maria and Nina's sfinci at Caffe Sicilia!

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VIDEO: Making Saint Joseph Altar Bread with Caffe Sicilia’s Maria Cracchiolo

Artists-in-the-Kitchen Maria Cracchiolo, and her parents Domenic and Nina Damico, demonstrate how to create beautiful bread in shapes symbolic of Saint Joseph and inspired by nature. Watch as Maria, Nina, and Domenic artfully shape angels, a carpenter’s saw, San Giuseppe scroll, Saint Joseph sun, snails, flowers, butterflies, grapes, and more.

Saint Joseph altar bread is available by special order at Caffe Sicilia. Call to place your order at (978) 283-2345.

 

 

As you will hear Maria’s story unfold (while deftly shaping the dough), her family’s tradition of making the Saint Joseph altar bread began several years ago, for a very heartfelt reason. In 2010, her young daughter was facing a very serious operation. Maria had never made the special Saint Joseph altar bread, but decided that year to make it her devotion to Saint Joseph. Maria taught herself how to shape the bread, finding inspiration in old photos of altars, and also from images, which she found online, of bread made in Sicily. Maria lived in Italy for five years, attending art school and studying fashion design. When I write “Artists-in-the Kitchen” you’ll see why after viewing the video.

Both of Maria’s parents, Nina and Domenic, were born in Sicily and grew up celebrating the Feast of San Giuseppe in the Sicilian tradition of feeding the poor and orphaned, and welcoming all who came to their table. Thank you Maria, Domenic, and Nina for graciously welcoming me into your Caffe Sicilia’s kitchen!

saint-joseph-bread-caffe-sicilia-c2a9-kim-smith-2014- (1)

Beautiful Saint Joseph Altar Bread Created by Caffe Sicilia

 

New Film: Making the Special Saint Joseph Altar Bread

Artists-in-the-Kitchen Maria Cracchiolo, and her parents Domenic and Nina Damico, demonstrate how to create beautiful bread in shapes symbolic of Saint Joseph and inspired by nature. Watch as Maria, Nina, and Domenic artfully shape angels, a carpenter’s saw, San Giuseppe scroll, Saint Joseph sun, snails, flowers, butterflies, grapes, and more.

Many thanks to Sefatia Romeo Thekan for the suggestion to contact Maria and family to interview for Gloucester’ Feast of  Saint Joseph film project.

For improved viewing experience, click off the Vimeo HD icon in the bottom right hand corner and the video will load much more quickly.

As you will hear Maria’s story unfold (while deftly shaping the dough), her family’s tradition of making the Saint Joseph altar bread began several years ago, for a very heartfelt reason. In 2010, her young daughter was facing a very serious operation. Maria had never made the special Saint Joseph bread, but decided that year to make it her devotion to Saint Joseph. Maria taught herself how to shape the bread, finding inspiration in old photos of altars, and also from images, which she found online, of bread made in Sicily. Maria lived in Italy for five years, attending art school and studying fashion design. When I write “Artists-in-the Kitchen” you’ll see why after viewing the video.

Both of Maria’s parents, Nina and Domenic, were born in Sicily and grew up celebrating the Feast of San Giuseppe in the Sicilian tradition of feeding the poor and orphaned, and welcoming all who came to their table. Thank you Maria, Domenic, and Nina for graciously welcoming me into your Caffe Sicilia’s kitchen!

Saint Joseph Bread is available by special order at Caffe Sicilia. Call to place your order at (978) 283-2345

San Giuseppe Bread Caffe Sicilia ©Kim Smith 2014

See previous posts related to Caffe Sicilia:

Filming Continues on Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Film Project, Today at Caffe Sicilia

Caffe Sicilia’s St. Joseph Zeppole or, in Other Words, A Cloud of Sweetness Sent from the Heavens 

Sfinci di San Giuseppe