Sunday, February 24, 2013

Week 8 of the 52s...Limoncello

I first met Alan at an Italian restaurant on my last night in Edinburgh.  On a week-long business trip, I'd been told that Bar Roma was a great place to eat; better still, it was within walking distance of my hotel.

Truly, the food was amazing, the atmosphere lively and welcoming, the waiters so Italian they could only speak very broken English, but could flirt like Casanova.  I had a wonderful little table in a cozy corner, perfect for watching people, especially the large group of men at a long table in front of me, obviously co-workers out for some kind of office celebration.

After an amusing chat with my waiter as I ordered, one of the guys in that group turned in his chair and started a conversation with me.  My American accent, you see.  He had been to the States many times, so we compared notes about cities and landmarks.  Very charming, really funny, by the end of the evening, Alan had joined me at my table, and over a nice bottle of Lambrusco, we exchanged email addresses and agreed to keep in touch.

A year and a half later we were married. 

Because of that fateful meeting, we returned to Bar Roma on every anniversary.  We always had delicious food, laughed and joked with the manager, Alan put up with the flirtatious waiters, and we finished the evening with a small glass of Limoncello, fresh from Italy, served in beautiful little pottery cups.

Time goes by. 

Alan and I are in southern Italy.  I am on a quest for those little cups, handmade on the Isle of Capri, where the best Limoncello is also made.

A small Italian market stall, and see those huge lemons in the middle there?  Those are the lemons used for Limoncello.  The ones to the left are the average-sized lemon...

And, at long last, I found the very glasses I was looking for.  We had wandered down a narrow little back alley whilst meandering on Capri and by accident and sheer luck, we found this tiny shop run by a local family of potters who made the perfect Limoncello cups.  Each one is just a bit different, hand painted and so, so cool.

They're equal to a shot glass.  Limoncello is very potent, so this is just the right size...

I had a recipe from Capri for making Limoncello, though I've never attempted it.  Stashed in a box where I keep my treasured recipes, I was looking for something whilst idly wondering what I was going to do for Week 8 of the 52s, when I happened upon the forgotten concoction.  I knew this was to be my new adventure.

So.  First, the ten lemons required.  Because I wanted this to taste as close to real as possible, I bought organic, beautiful lemons, though sadly, not the gigantors of Capri...

Only the outer rind is used, so after carefully peeling each one to avoid any pith, they went in a pitcher with a bottle of vodka--a good brand since again, I'm trying to make the best batch I can.

Covered with plastic wrap and stashed for four days in a corner of the kitchen...

Yesterday, I removed the wrap and nearly got a contact high just off the fumes!  And--happy dance--it smelled just like it was supposed to!

Next I made the elixir that gets poured over the four-day fermentation.  Thankfully, the pitcher was just big enough to hold the whole solution, right to the brim.  More plastic wrap, tucked in a corner of the kitchen to meld flavors overnight...

Earlier today, the peels were strained out, the liqueur was decanted into two very beautiful bottles and sealed for the next month in the back of my fridge.

My very first bottle of Limoncello...

And naturally, I can't just bottle it all up without a taste, can I?  I filled a little glass--about three sips' worth, or one quick down the hatch...

Holy Thunder Road, Batman!!!!!!!!
I took a wee sip, just to make sure it was palatable, then knocked it back.  And whoa.  Potent is too tame a word.  Seriously strong, it's also lemony to the nth degree, and absolutely, astoundingly delicious. 
I think I got a buzz before it even hit my stomach because, eyes closed as I savored the heat, all I could think about was sitting with Alan on the terrace of a quiet little ristorante on the Amalfi Coast, sipping Limoncello on a lazy afternoon...

Nope, potent doesn't even come close...


  1. It's so amazing how a taste can bring you back...what a lovely story. And your finished product looks impressive!

    1. It was really fun to make. Limoncello is wonderful ice-cold on a hot Summer's day. Can't wait!

  2. Ah, moonshinin' southern ancestores on my father's side would be proud ;p.

    That's cool you were able to oull off making your own Limoncello. Just imagine'll be the longer it sits.

    1. "Moonshine, moonshine, to quench the devil's thirst..."

      My Limoncello is probably illegal in most states, but man, is it good. After it's...ah...mellowed for a month, I'll stash it in the freezer and whenever I need a hit of mindblow, I can have a nice frosty glass.