Guest Author - Beth Schreibman Gehring
I love Limoncello! Somehow , nothing says summer to me like that incredible fresh lemon flavor, sipped ice cold on the terrace, in the company of laughter and very good friends. Limoncello is a traditional liqueur, crafted from the most lusciously sunkissed Mediterranean lemons and blended with alcohol, sugar and fresh spring water. Only the zest of the lemon is used, resulting in a liqueur that is fragrant, yellow in color and very sweet with a fresh lemon flavor. The juice of the lemon is not used in producing Limoncello and that is why the drink remains so sweet and subtle.
In Italy, many families still make their own versions, from lemons grown on their land and water from their wells. It is a tradition with ancient roots and many recipes are passed down through generations. I am fortunate to have a nephew who has spent many a summer in Italy and has brought me back several bottles of very delicious homemade Limoncello from the many places he has visited. The last came in a little bottle with a teeny cork, yellow like the most precious gold but flavored with hot pepper! He explained to me that this family used this particular variety like medicine, as a digestif for a upset stomach. It was absolutely delicious and the very flavor of it was capable of transporting me across the sea to the groves where he had been. It was that fresh and amazingly fragrant.
I always have a bottle of Limonce' Limoncello in the freezer where it stays ice cold and ready for me to enjoy at anytime. It is a wonderful aperitif when mixed with a splash of soda and a bit of Campari. It can be used drizzled over fresh raspberries that have been sprinkled with the best grated dark chocolate. I have made a wonderful light sorbet that can be used a palate cleanser between courses made by putting fresh blackberries, ice , several fresh sage leaves and some Limoncello in a very powerful blender and pureeing it on high for about 50 seconds. Served in pretty little glasses and garnished with a fresh sage leaf, this sorbet is a lovely way to finish a very heavy meal.
There are as many types of Limoncello on the market as there are stars (perhaps a slight exaggeration , but an apt comparison nonetheless!), but I truly like Limonce’ the best. Limonce' originates in the lovely port city of Trieste and has a much brighter character and is more lemony to my taste than sweet, much more like the beautiful bottles that my nephew brings me from his travels around southern Italy. Something about Limonce’ tastes more traditional to me, almost like I am sipping a bit of liquid history. I imagine myself sitting on a wooden chaise with my husband after a fabulous meal of fried artichokes and fresh cheeses, relaxing outside our villa, with no place else to be except together, enjoying the birds, the flowers and the fragrant almond breeze. I must not be the only one who enjoys Limonce’ the most, because not only is Limoncé Italy’s number one selling Limoncello, but Limoncé has won a coveted gold medal at the prestigious 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition!
I do enjoy Limonce' Limoncello the very best when it is iced cold, straight out of the bottle, but it is a liqueur easily mixed into a cocktail. Do try the Limonce’ for this, because it’s flavor is fresher and purer than most of the Limoncello’s that I have tried, and not at all syrupy! I also love to make what I call a Chocolate Covered Lemon Drop, a very yummy version of a chocolate martini! There’s nothing sophisticated about this drink, it’s all about the kid inside!
To make one you will need,
1/2 ounce of Limonce’ Limoncello www.limonce-usa.com
1 and a half ounces of Three Olives Chocolate Vodka
1 good splash of Monin Dark Chocolate syrup
Place all above ingredients in a shaker with Ice and shake vigorously until quite cold. Strain into a martini glass that you have drizzled with a very good quality (I like Scharffen berger) dark chocolate syrup. Garnish with a very thin lemon twist and serve.