Friday, January 12

limoncello


I recently read this post by Shelley in Rome. Hmmm, yes I forget how many people actually like limoncello. Living in the heart of the lemon capital of Italy it is something I have begun to take for granted. Everybody has lemon trees, most families makes their own limoncello and far too many of the local shops sell it too. I even have to go and pay my rent in a limoncello factory. Funnily enough, most people I know that live here are sick to death of the bright yellow liquid. It is plonked on the table in little frosted shot glasses after every meal at nearly every restaurant, and very rarely touched by anyone. It is believed to be a digestive drink, but it is also the drink that can send you from pleasantly tipsy to full blown never-will-drink-again type hangover. It also, in my opinion tastes like washing up liquid (not that I make a habit of drinking fairy liquid).

Much more interesting are the other home made liquers found in the area: fennel, myrtle, aniseed, mandarin and wild strawberry. Each one has a sharp alcoholic bite but tastes exactly how it should. Fennel and liquorice have an aniseedy tang, mandarin could never be mistaken for clementine or orange and wild strawberry comes with lethally alcohol soaked berries floating in it. Myrtle, which is not quite a blueberry, neither a blackberry, when made into mirtillo becomes dark and syrupy with a taste reminiscent of cough mixture. Carlo’s uncle makes a vat every year and always gives us a bottle wrapped in brown paper. (It mixes extremely well with vodka, but I doubt the locals would approve of that.)

One evening I was invited to a party in a limoncello party on a beach near Sorrento. We arrived at sunset and walked into the factory, based in an old boat shed, to the sound of tambourines and drums. Musicians stood in the corner, playing and singing, fighting to be heard over the noise of the machinery that was still whirring. I was given a quick tour of the liquor making process, before being asked to taste the finished product. I tried to decline (I really don’t like limoncello) but they insisted, so I held my breath and knocked it back, but couldn’t control my thoughts on the stuff. “Bleugh!...Oops, sorry! I mean, I’m sure it’s lovely, but I just don’t like lemons. You don’t make anything else do you?” They were not impressed.

You could always mix your limoncello with lemon ice cream and prosecco, which makes a cocktail called a sgroppino. You can use it to marinate and cook chicken breasts too, but if you do ever come across mirtillo, fragolino, mandarino or any other localy made drinks that end in ino or ello, be sure to try them. They deserve recognition too.

11 comments:

  1. I have only tasted limoncello once; in that lovely mountainside family restaurant in Valtellina. It was amazing; alcohol and sugar and fresh lemons. Nothing else. I loved it.

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  2. The last time I was in Italy, I had a homemade cinnamon liquor as a digestivo one night. It was heavenly!

    Although I don't drink it on a regular basis, I have to admit a sort of nostalgic fondness for the yellow stuff, though. :)

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  3. The liquer with the wild strawberries floating in it is really yummy.Our friend from Napoli brought some over at the weekend,and its just about finished.Its my new favourite!

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  4. I *love* fragolino and mirtillo. I've never had/made mandarino, but I am positive I would love that too. Must try it, thanks :)

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  5. I love limoncello! But then again, I only have it regularly when I am in Italy, which is once a year. I have a few bottles at home, but it's just not the same.

    The others you described sound great - I'll make it a point to try them this year. Thanks!

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  6. I've never thought of Limincello for cooking, a great idea! The strawberry liquor sounds yummy!

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  7. I wholeheartedly agree! I hate the stuff - much prefer a nice nocino or fragolino any day!

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  8. You won't mind me if I dare correct you, will you?
    It is not mirtillo, which woudl be blueberry, it is "mortella" which is only a mediterranean wild plant which produces those fantastic bleuish berries, it is typical of Sardegna and southern Italy, particularly Campania.
    Limoncello....BLEAH...sorry I live here and the simple smell of it makes me sick BUT I use it to flavour my cakes and cookies indeed.
    My dad makes wonderful citrus ( a mix of lemon, mandarino and orange) and absolutely divine hot pepper liquers, the latter he calls liquid fire (just to give you the idea...) whilst my mom makes mortella and fennel.
    I must confess I have a really beautyful lemon tree on my terrace though...

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  9. You won't mind me if I dare correct you, will you?
    It is not mirtillo, which woudl be blueberry, it is "mortella" which is only a mediterranean wild plant which produces those fantastic bleuish berries, it is typical of Sardegna and southern Italy, particularly Campania.
    Limoncello....BLEAH...sorry I live here and the simple smell of it makes me sick BUT I use it to flavour my cakes and cookies indeed.
    My dad makes wonderful citrus ( a mix of lemon, mandarino and orange) and absolutely divine hot pepper liquers, the latter he calls liquid fire (just to give you the idea...) whilst my mom makes mortella and fennel.
    I must confess I have a really beautyful lemon tree on my terrace though...

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  10. i'll be the happy recipient of my landlord's mirtillo as soon as it's done...you'll see it!

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  11. I'm not a big limoncello fan but would like to try some of the others you mentioned.

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