How it Started

When I was 12, I found a blank ledger book. It was a treasure beyond treasure to me. I debated and debated about what to do with it - it had to be something special. Finally I decided to make a list of things I wanted to do and places I wanted to see in my life and then cross them off when I had accomplished them. At first they were simple things, but soon I was adding dramatic things, impossible things, but things still worth dreaming about. Oddly enough, putting them on the list somehow made them attainable. I have kept the book and updated the list my entire life. Here is the story behind some of the entries - successes and failures, embarrassing and proud moments, laughter and tears - the ridiculous to the sublime!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Drink Limoncello - DID IT

Limoncello is an intense lemon liqueur made famous on the fabulous Amalfi Coast where the millions of lemon trees supply a sufficient amount zest (the outer skin of the lemon) to keep the vats full. To ensure there is enough, they grow really fat lemons with lost of peel.  Oddly enough, the fruit inside that giant lemon is about the same size an any normal lemon, it's just the rind that's big. There are dozen of different kinds of lemons and each Limoncello connoisseur has their favorite.  Don't worry, the fruit doesn't go to waste, it is used to make the most amazing gelato and Italian ices - a sort of slushy/slurpy/snowcone.

This orchard is in the heart of downtown Sorrento, a beautiful Italian resort town on the Amalfi Coast just across the Bay from Naples.  The 300-yr-old lemon-orange-mandarin orchard is open to the public and you can wander through the 10-acre garden enveloped in the amazing fragrance.

There is nothing quite like sipping tiny samples of the best Limoncello in the world right in the orchard where it grew.  Although they are all referred to as Limoncello, there are lots of flavors; Lemon, Lime, Orange, Mandarin, Anise, Hazelnut, Licorice, Basil and more.  I love Basil in cooking, but the thought of it as a liqueur didn't really appeal to me, until I tried a tiny sip and it is WONDERFUL!  I think my favorite is the orange/lemon mix. 

Local recipes are closely guarded family secrets, but the basics are this:  Peel only the zest of the lemon, none of the white pith or your liqueur will be bitter (I use a potato peeler). Soak those peels in a potent, flavorless alcohol such as 100 proof vodka or Everclear.  Let it soak for a few weeks, strain out the peels, then stir in a simple sugar syrup, cork it and let it sit for a few more weeks. 
Then put it in the freezer until it's slushy.  Put your liqueur glasses in the freezer as well - everything has to be cold to be at its best. I've made several batches already and I'm not sure what happened, but they're gone!  Time to start another batch.

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