If there is anything I can’t stand it is when family, friends or food bloggers go to Paris or Rome (or Prague) and then come back home with tons of “Paris this” and “Rome that” (or “Prague this and that!”. They go on and on relating their experiences with the certainty that we who have not been there cannot possibly relate –but they will tell us, won’t they?
Of course I find this especially annoying when it is also true.
To me it is the culinary equivalent of that time my college room mate sported a slight British accent after having just returned from only a 6 week government class taught at Cambridge . (Please note that I said “taught at Cambridge” as the class was not an actual Cambridge University offering — it was a distinction he never failed to quite acknowledge.) Nevertheless, after his return he reminded me of what I did not get to experience with every vowel he uttered. Literally.
But this post is about food, isn’t it?
“Oh Trevor you have never tasted anything as good as the veal we had that partic ul ar night at La Tige D’or! ”
Having never dined at La Tige D’or I suppose I will just have to take your word for it, won’t I? (Were you eating the scraps of veal I have been leaving on my plate all these years? How else would you know?)
“It was the most amaaazing bottle of wine we have ever had and it cost only 2 Euros. Can you believe that? You just can’t find wine as good as that here in *this country*. I would put that bottle up against anything in Wine Spectator.”
Of course the fact that you were physically picnicking in the hills of Tuscany had nothing to do with your impression of the wine that day, right? I suspect that I too would have loved a bottle of 2 Euro Chuck should I have been there with you.
And then there is the worst offender:
“We had street-food from the friendliest vendor and that dinner was as good as anything you can get from the finest restaurants here in ‘The States'”.
Sometimes people won’t shut up about their trip for weeks or even months. Years even.
I once went out with someone who six years prior to our relationship had spent 4 months in Australia doing nothing particularly productive other than noticing things that were seemingly different or better than they are in the US. You know, the beach, the clubs, the attitude. And here it was six years later and he still felt the need to make it known at least 3 times a day he had lived “outside this country” by referring to something that isn’t the same here as it is there.
OK. Enough already.
Which reminds me that only a few short weeks ago we were in Rome and we had the most fantastic Espresso Granita I had ever had. I’m sure the surroundings had nothing to do with my opinion of it either. Just in case you were wondering.
I know you are thinking we must have gone to the famous Cremeria Monteforte on the Via della Rotonda, (preferred by David Lebovitz ), but you would be wrong. No sirree. I wasn’t even at the Tazza d’Oro on the other side of the Pantheon . Not far from there, however, tucked just behind the Piazza Navona (with its gorgeous Bernini fountains) at the Campo de’ Fiori Square we were introduced by our ex-pat friend and our tour guide that day Rick to the Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè , an ancient coffee shop and roaster established there in the thirties.
The first thing you notice about the shop it is that unlike the 1930’s coffee roasting houses in The States, this one actually was established in the ’30’s and not just decorated to look like it. Take that Coffee Bean ! I knew we were in for a special treat when I saw that the granita at the Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè was so well thought of that real Romans were lining up at its counters along with the tourists in the middle of one hot-as-blazes Roman summer.
“Trust me when I say that you have never tasted anything as good as this particular granita! You just can’t find espresso granita as good in The States.”
Perhaps not. Granita isn’t something you find a lot here in this country anyway unless you make it yourself and you really can’t find it offered next to a Bernini fountain or just a short walk from The Pantheon and that really does seem to make a difference.
It hardly matters anyway as it is so incredibly easy to make at home and the “I made it myself” enthusiasm will certainly counter the “I’m eating this in Italy” factor. Of all the culinary inspirations I came home with espresso granita is by far the easiest to recreate.
Its perfect for a 105 degree end of summer day and a DVD of The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone don’t you think? I did.
(Yes, I plan on being insufferable for quite awhile. Its my turn. Have I told you yet about the pizza?)
Granita di Caffè con Panna
(Espresso Granita with Whipped Cream)
This is what you will need:
- 4 cups brewed espresso (or very strong coffee*.)
- 2/3 cup minus 1 T granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream plus 1 T granulated sugar
This is how you make it:
- Carefully pour in hot espresso in a medium saucepan and whisk in granulated sugar until fully dissolved.
- Pour into a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish and place the dish in freezer. Every 30 minutes scrape the mixture with a large fork to create the granita texture. The crystals will form around the outside of the pan so scrape them off and toward the center. The granita will need approximately four to five hours to completely freeze and get slushy.
- Before serving make the whipped cream and lightly sweeten or add vanilla to taste. I think this is best if the whipped cream is not sweetened or flavored very much. .
- Spoon granita into small glasses or cups and dollop with a whipped cream in that Roman sort of way that you will just never get to experience.
If you can't brew espresso you can run a very high quality, strong Italian roast coffee through double grounds and it will taste just great. )