Danny Ferraro

Danny Ferraro

American visitors coming for a taste of Trail’s Italian flavour

Up to 35 visitors from Spokane’s American Italian Club will be welcomed to the city on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. in the Colombo Lodge.

With so much Italian history in Trail, it wasn’t a question of what to do with 35 “Americanas” for the day. It was a question of how to fit everything into one afternoon and still honour the American Italian Club’s one request.

They want to shop Italian.

“One of the key reasons they wanted to come was because they know in Trail we have specialty shopping in Italian foods,” said Toni Driutti, from Festa Italiana. “So they wanted to come and see some of Trail, they want to do some Italian shopping, and of course, play a little bocce.”

Up to 35 visitors from Spokane’s American Italian Club will be welcomed to the city on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. in the Colombo Lodge.

All five local Italian groups are gathering under one roof to break bread and share stories and photos with neighbours to the south.

Following a traditional pranzo, members from the San Martino Club, Italo Canadese, Colombo Lodge, Club Italico and Festa Italiana will take the Spokane group on a quick go-see of the Teck Interpretive Centre, the Home of Champions Monument, the Trail Museum and sports memorabilia display before the highlight – shopping at Ferraro Foods and Star Grocery.

“We are all excited and looking forward to them coming up to meet us,” said Driutti.

“We are trying to promote our Italian heritage and say, ‘We have a great heritage here in Trail.’

“We really need to celebrate it. So this connection has started something good – it’s going to be fun and it’s nice to be opening some doors.”

Local shoppers might be surprised to hear that people living in big cities (Spokane’s population is over 200,000) often target Trail as the prime destination for authentic foods like mortadelle and prosciutto, fresh ricotta and burrata, hundreds of dried pasta varieties, Sicilian olives, Calabria’s pomodori secchi, imported olive oils, balsamics, “00” flour and plenty of other traditional fare.

With so many authentic food choices at arm’s length in Trail, locals could lose sight that the shopping experience at Ferraro Foods and Star Grocery is unique in today’s big box-store world.

Danny Ferraro, from Ferraro Foods, takes it all in stride, saying people from outside the area regularly take a trip into the city to grocery shop for imported foods.

Within days of the Spokane group confirming its visit to Trail, Ferraro received a list of items the Spokane club asked to have on hand when they hit town Saturday.

Authentic foods are difficult to find in most cities, he said, noting imported cheeses like ricotta (netted) and mozzarella, cured meats and imported flours, oils and pasta, top the requests.

The store’s meat department stocks traditional and difficult to find ingredients like tripe, oxtail, and baccalà that are staples in certain Italian dishes.

Annually a store partner, this year it was James Ferraro, makes a trip to Italy to check out what’s new in the country’s food markets.

Pasquale Amantea, owner of Star Grocery, says customers arrive on his Gulch doorstep from Grand Forks, Nelson, Creston, Cranbrook and the United States looking for everything from fresh sausages to cured meats, pastas, cheeses and choice olive oils.

“We had a fellow in from Colville who bought a bunch of olive oils,” said Amantea in a previous interview. “He said they can’t find good ones in Spokane and area.”

Aside from imported foods, both sites are known near and far for their tasty storemade sausages.

“We sell them as far away as Saskatchewan,” said Amantea. “People come in and buy them to bring back to home to Alberta, up north to Yellowknife, Edmonton or even Vancouver Island.”