Coffee Consciousness I
(Author’s note: Caffè Polar, like over 95% of L’Aquila’s huge and beautiful historic center, is still off-limits after last year’s disasterous earthquake that forced me and tens of thousands from their homes. I will keep you updated on the rebirth of both Caffè Polar and L’Aquila. Abruzzo 23 aprile 2010)
Cinnamon is one of those spices that bring back memories. Especially, freshly ground cinnamon. This evening I made a quick stop at the Caffè Polar, the tiny bookshop café, with a free hotspot (still not very common in provincial Italy) here in L’Aquila, the city in the Apennine mountains where I live. My goal was a short cappuccino and a newspaper break, but that change, as I stepped up to the bar to order and caught a whiff of that, oh so familiar spice. The young woman behind the bar was busy grating cinnamon over a small glass cup of espresso. As she tops it up with panna (dense cream), I ask how she would do espresso and cinnamon cold. It is a warm day, after all. “I would make a
Caffè Shakerato,” is her response.
Caffè shakerato is the hedonistic Italian version of iced espresso. It consists of two shots of espresso straight from the machine, ice and sugar. The ingredients are mixed in a cocktail shaker then poured into a flute or cocktail glass. In Milan, and a few other parts of northern Italy, Rebarbaro, (a semisweet bitter), or Biancosarti, (a vanilla-based liquor) are added before shaking. It is great with a touch of freshly ground cinnamon.
What I like about the best spices is how they can turn on your memories that play on all of your senses. I’ll tell you how cinnamon transformed evening strolls on the Sicilian island of Panarea last summer, in the next installment how.