The Mayor of Rocky Hill and I were able to pull off some magic with a last minute hit of lemon zest to the limecello we fashioned a few weeks back. It paid off exponentially. The soft green tint of our invention coincided nicely with the surprising taste of the finished lemon-limecello, a light and fluffy slice of key lime pie. No joke.
You’ll have to try it to believe it, I know. But once you do, you’ll be well inspired to delve into the next batch of Italian hooch. As we debated back and forth between a blood orangecello and a pink grapefruit (Ruby Red) version for our next project, we became curious as to which you would vote for?
This past Tuesday, I got together with an old colleague for my third attempt at limoncello. What I discovered between round one and round two made a world of difference in the final product. First, don’t use any pure grain alcohol (PGA) or Golden Grain when concocting this homemade hooch. Instead, opt for a 100 proof vodka (Smirnoff blue label works well) and be thankful you paid a little more. Likewise, spring for some organic lemons. You’ll have no nuance of a chemical component in the final product since the lemons (and thus skins) aren’t treated with mouth-numbing carcinogens.
My second experience in making limoncello also taught me to use big, fat lemons. Handling and zesting the little guys can get tricky and it’s hard enough just to keep the white pith from the lemon zest. My friend, Lou “the Mayor of Rocky Hills” demonstrates the perfectly zested lemon. Here is just another instance in which that Fine Italian Hand comes in… well… handy.
There are a hundred recipes on line for limoncello and most are fairly similar. Using only four ingredients (vodka, lemons, sugar and water) means these little tips will be the difference between good limoncello and furniture cleaner.
After the zesting is complete, the vodka is poured over top then sealed and stored for anywhere from two to four weeks. Ours is resting in this airtight plastic gallon drum, where we will revisit it in March for step two which involves the addition of some simple syrup and a little more Italian patience.
When I first started writing this column about a year ago, I began by talking about one of my favorite categories of wine, Italian whites. It’s true that things come full circle in life because summer rolled around and I found myself enjoying some new white wines from Italy.
Like good Italian food, which can sometimes be hard to find, good Italian wines are meant to be shared with family and friends.
Amano Fiano ($10.99): The 2006 Amano Fiano is a dry Italian white with a solid structure and approachable acidity. Aromas of melon and grapefruit carry over nicely to the palate. My friend, the Great Scot, had me over for dinner recently. The Amano Fiano was a noble match to his wife’s coconut-crusted tilapia and a medley of sauteed zucchini, peppers and shallots. Lively and fresh, the 2006 Amano is summertime sunshine in a bottle. If you like it and want to try another, then I highly recommend the 2006 Terredora Fiano from Campania.