Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Everybody Freeze!

Granita di Bitterino con Arancia
Bitterino Granita with Orange

Shaved ice and popsicles seem to be making a big comeback this year, especially with people re-discovering Mexican "paleta's" and such likes, which really are wonderful... but I ain't Mexican! The guy with the sombrero and the cooks apron- that wasn't me! I am Sicilian and where I come from, we have Granita in the Summer- a wonderfully tart, traditionally lemon-flavored stirred-ice, or an equally refreshing mint variation. Sold as scoops in a cup or a cone, this is a light and refreshing treat on a sweltering Sicilian afternoon... served in a sweet, soft brioche from a street vendor at the sea side, it is almost sublime! Licking sticky sugared drips of lemon juice from your forearms has never been so much fun!

Of course it would not be worth me writing up how to make Granita, as there are a million and one people out there that have already done so and done a much better job than I would! At the same time, the method is simple in the extreme. So let me tell you about how I went about making a stirred, frozen Bitterino version and the troubles I had on the way...

I thought it was going to be a simple affair this one- and it was... and it wasn't! Basically, all you need to do it to pour the Bitterino (or whatever liquid you choose to freeze) into a container and to put it into the freezer. After an hour or so, when the first ice crystals are beginning to form, stir it with a fork and return it. Do this again an hour later. And so on and so forth, until you have a fine-structured mass of powdery, "snowy" ice crystals that you can scoop out and serve. What could be easier than that? Well... choosing a liquid that FREEZES for a start! This stuff took 3 whole days to turn into the flaky red snow you can see in the photos... ugh! But it was worth it- fear not!

I love the bitter, Campari- like flavor of Bitterino and it makes for a pleasant refresher that is not cloyingly sweet. I paired mine with orange segments and decorated it with a couple of mint leaves. I would recommend sugaring the orange segments lightly, as they will otherwise taste too bitter in combination and a little extra sweetness to the oranges is a good thing. A cool thing happens with the orange slices too... as the ice begins to melt, the orange begins to freeze, which is kind of fun! And in any case, it is a easy, do it yourself affair... just make sure you have 2-3 days time to spare and a good stirring arm!

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