Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
During a recent trip to Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, I made a stop on the Amalfi drive to purchase fresh lemons at a roadside stand. I had read somewhere that lemons from the Sorrento/Amalfi area were the best. With that in mind, I had a notion to make a batch of limoncello at home!
The first photo is the stand I bought the lemons at, on the Amalfi Drive not far before reaching Positano. The man there told me the smaller of the two kinds of lemons you see there are the best for limoncello. Yes, those other lemons are huge, aren't they? Francesco, our guide for the day, explained that those big lemons are grown as a joke for Americans. He says that Americans always say that they have the biggest everything- bigger houses, bigger cars, bigger yards. So, now Sorrento has the biggest lemons!
My husband Mike and I had taken a limoncello making class back in Little Italy, in Baltimore. The recipe we used is wonderful, but called for 100 proof Vodka, which we have been unable to find here. With a little internet research, I located another recipe, which instead used Everclear alcohol and lemons straight from Sorrento!!! The alcohol we could obtain here, we decided to give this new recipe a go. It's very similar to the one we had used.
First, you wash, and peel the lemons, being careful only to use the yellow portion of the peel, not the white. Put the peels and 1 liter of alcohol into a tightly closed glass container. Leave this to brew for 8 days, shaking the container every once in awhile.
At the end of the 8 days, drain the liquid from the lemon peels, and discard the peels. Make a simple syrup (6 1/2 cups of sugar, 6 1/3 cups of water). Let the simple syrup cool, then mix together with the alcohol, and bottle. Store the limoncello in the refridgerator. (Note: Other recipes indicate you need to now brew this mixture in the fridge for up to 3 weeks before drinking, but this new recipe says you can skip that part and drink immediately).
Here's our completed batch of limoncello, ready to go in the fridge. Between the lemons straight from Sorrento and the Everclear alcohol, this is some of the best limoncello we've ever tasted!! Definitely, this was well worth the trouble of hauling the lemons all the way back home, and I think there is a "Return to Sorrento" in my future!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
And no,it was not Johnny Depp or Angelina Jolie, who are actually IN Venice for 3 months filming The Tourist. You'd think I would have seen one of their shoots, at least.
None the less, I am happy to report that about 10 am this morning at the Rialto, I spotted Rick Steves, by himself, speaking with an Italian looking woman and making notes in a little notebook. I was sure it was Rick Steves, and confirmed that as soon as I heard his voice. I waited for a minute until they were done talking, then asked if I could interrupt for a second. I asked if he was Rick Steves, he looked a bit surprised I recognized him, then smiled, said, yes, he was, and shook my hand.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the name, Rick Steves is well known in America as a travel writer. He has published numerous books on traveling through Europe, and does many TV shows and specials. My first trip through Italy was done with one of his books in hand. OK, so not an actor or actress, or royalty, but still a celebrity.
Monday, April 12, 2010
P.S. One week later I also got in trouble at the Dolce and Gabbana Kids shop in Sorrento. Fortunately for me, Mom was not with us, so Denise was not able to run tattle. Spared in Sorrento!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Each holiday season there is something new and glorious to experience here. Shop windows all over Venice have been filled with Easter eggs small and large, but none surpassed this one in the front window of Dogheria Moscari. This g-inormous chocolate egg stands about 2 1/2 feet tall and I feel like a kid again, wanting it for myself as I stand and admire it every time I pass by the shop. Life is good.
As a kid in New Jersey, I remember my mom getting an egg like this at Easter time, I don't remember if it was shipped over from her family still in the "old country", or if there was an Italian bakery in the neighborhood producing them. I have to remember to ask her, see if she recalls. I clearly remember seeing an egg like this in the house with "Auguri " written on it. We were the only kids on the block with an egg like that. Years have gone by. I haven't thought about those eggs for the entire duration, and here I am, drooling over those fantastic eggs again. I'm in a little bit of heaven.