Espresso and Cannoli: A Taste of Sicily
Article by Janis Clark
Did you know that June 16th is National Cannoli Day? I didn’t know either and I’m 100% Italian American. But Kelly Cannoli (Wilson) knew; she knows all about cannoli, including how to make it taste like heaven on earth. Clkick here for website
Outside of Sicily where it originated, we will find more cannoli in Kelly’s hometown of New Jersey (second to New York for largest Italian population in the U.S.) than any other state. For generations, these fried pastry shells formed around a tube and filled with sweet creamy ricotta cheese, studded with chocolate chips, pistachios, or cherries and lightly dusted with powdered sugar, have been a traditional holiday dessert of the Italian-American community. In the “old country” the grandmothers, le nonne, formed the pastry shells around broom handles.
Kelly says it never occurred to her when she was fourteen years old and working in an Italian restaurant that she would one day open her own cannoli stand. Kelly is not Italian by birth, but growing up in New Jersey qualifies you, she said. Grandma Rosina taught her the recipe for sweet creamy ricotta filling and showed her how to form the shells. The quality of ricotta and the crispy shells are the essence of this pastry, so Kelly orders her superior ingredients directly from New Jersey.
It all started with the recession of 2008 when Kelly and her husband both lost their construction jobs. Seattle, a hub for innovation in the Pacific Northwest, offered programs to teach people newly unemployed how to run their own business. I will not get laid off again, she resolved. I will make my own job.
“Seattle is the espresso capital of the U.S, but where is the cannoli?” she asked. “Somebody needs to open a cannoli stand.” Lake City is in luck because Kelly opened Cannoli, a combined espresso and cannoli drive-through, open 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, at 11310 Lake City Way. Look for the pink-trimmed tiny building with drive-up window, espresso banner at the curb, pink tables and chairs out front. Kelly chose this location because of the success of her pop-up shop on nearby 35th Street, where she sold out all the cannoli she made each week, and because the little stand, formerly a bikini barista coffee shop, was already plumbed with water. It wasn’t going to be easy.
The old shop had to be brought up to code after standing empty, which required extra cost. Through RIVETER women’s website Kelly learned about iFundWomen, the only rewards based crowdfunding platform that is owned and operated for and by women, fulfilling a real need because women raising money for a business are 35% less likely to be funded
Crowdfunding is where entrepreneurs sell their products and services to people that they know, who want to buy into it. Small increments of money are raised from lots of people that add up to just enough money to reach a specific goal. Kelly’s crowdfunding website complete with video is just about ready to launch with cannoli products and merchandise as rewards and incentives.
Kelly has catered events for Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Both KING 5 Evening Magazine and New Day Northwest have requested interviews with her. But the true test, in my opinion, was the half-dozen cannoli assortment I bought to share with, old Maria, my Sicilian best friend: “Si. Dolci delicioso!” Yes. Delicious sweets!