Summers not over yet, so there’s still plenty of time to enjoy an Italian granita di caffe’. A semi-frozen dessert made with sweetened espresso. Originally from Sicily, a granita (granita siciliana) is made from sugar, water and flavorings, freezing the ingredients while mixing them. In Italy, regional variations in preparation result in a coarse or smooth texture similar to a sorbet.
The method of freezing is critical to the outcome. You can make a granita in a shallow container and as a film freezes on top of the container, break it up and stir it with a fork every 20 minutes or so. This will create a granita with the characteristic grainy texture. A smoother texture comes from using a gelato machine but you don’t have to have a gelato machine to make a smooth granita. All you really need is some version of a Donvier, a machine that breaks up the ice crystals and makes the texture lighter. A Donvier has a metal container that must be frozen at least 7 hours before you want to use it. The cylinder acts as a cold collector and allows you to freeze mixtures in just 12 minutes, hand cranking it every once in a while. The result will be more like a sorbet but as there is no electricity driving the mixing you can control the texture to achieve the desired constancy.
In Italy, coffee granita is served in tall glasses and topped with whipped cream. Unlike gelato or ice cream; there is no butterfat in a granita so it can be a guiltless summertime pleasure to enjoy. Divertiti!
Here are a few links to other granita variations including one from La Cucina Italiana Magazine for coffee granita with almond tuiles
When the Lonely Planet posted the world’s top coffee spots for caffeine-fuelled travel it left itself open for controversy. Anyone who posts a preferred list of anything i.e. Top Food Trends, Top Movies, Top I-Phone Apps is bound to have people who agree and disagree with their choices. The Lonely Planet post does readily admit that the world’s second most valuable commodity inspires “passion and opinion” so I thought I’d post a comment on their choices.
According to the Lonely Planet, one of the world’s top coffee spots is Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia and Africa’s 4th largest city. It is the original home of the coffee plant (coffee Arabica) which still grows wild in the highland forests. Legacy expects it to be placed at the top of the list but probably with a little help from the Italians. The Italian Fascist buildings from the former Marxist regime in Ethiopia left their mark on coffee’s birthplace with Italian inspired cafes where shots are pulled and beans are roasted Italian style.
The article also mentions Medellin Columbia, Istanbul Turkey and one spot in Italy, the legendary Café Sant’Eustachio in Piazza Campo de Fiori, Rome. Well-chosen but Italy offers so much more. In every city, town, village and borgo there are cafes where the “passion and opinion” of the locales make their local coffee bar one of the world’s top coffee spots.