Tag Archives: gelato

Stubborn September Summer

Good Gelato Goes Well With Anytime

Mid-september is when they start taking down the umbrella farms that cover the long sandy beaches that stretch up and down the Abruzzo coast. The crowds of people tempting skin cancer, like many of our fake-palm tree neighbors or hiding in the shade (me) are giving way leaving behind the few of us who insist on ignoring Fall home chores to keep their feet in the salty sand.

It’s dusk today and although the shadows are long the sun still seers, forcing me to turn my shirt-collar up. The waves are just strong enough to compete with the din of scattered card players getting in one last game of Burraco or Briscola before the games must be moved indoors until Spring.

I’m allergic to cards, so I have to fight against the coming Autumn my own way. The choice fell, of course, on the best gelato on this part of Pescara’s northern riviera.

Plinius has always been one of the neighborhood’s more consistent beachfront concessions and it’s seafood restaurant, unlike many in this tourist town, is open all year round. This year they teamed up with downtown Pescara’s upstart artisanal gelato and espresso bar “L’Altro Gelato e Caffe”. The mother store, in Piazza Salotto in the heart of the main evening passeggiata street and square (look up “Piazza della Rinascita”, the square’s official name, if checking on a map) goes out of its way to make tasty, rich gelato with local fruits, Sicilian almonds or pistachios or chocolate and vanilla from Madagascar. The coffee is arguably the best in town, although only one varietal at a time makes it the mile-or-so up the Adriatic coast to the Plunius.

Tell me then, who is enjoying this September Sunday evening more: my friends and family playing cards around the beach cot to my left; or me, with my feet in the cool sand as I gaze towards Dalmatia (too far away too see across the soft waves) and slowly savor Italian ice cream with ingredients from the Indian Ocean?

Or does it really matter?

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Blood on my hands

For two Sundays in a row we were greeted at the gate of the my family’s country home in Navelli by a tree awash with cherries. I don’t know the exact species but when you have 4 buckets of dark, fresh, organic (we do absolutely nothing to the tree) juicy cherries just two steps of a ladder up and you don’t really care about the name. I am not a born gardener or farmer, the idea of having a little farm or taking care of the garden makes me want to hide in bed. But when it’s just calling out to you like that…..

So as Emily rode her bike and chased farm cats, Sofia read under the pines and Linda cared for her wide-blossomed roses, I put on some old clothes and started picking. After about 15 minutes of plucking cherries so ripe a handful would come off without their stems, I was already taking breaks to rinse off the sugar when the stickiness started to make it hard to keep the leaves off. At the end I looked like a doctor in a Mel Brooks film.

The problem, of course, was what to do with four buckets of ripe, fresh Apennine mountain cherries. By nightfall we had already eaten enough to last us a year. A few Tupperware container full when to friends and family. This time I tried to make a marmellata (marmalade). Fania, my sister and law is the real expert on this, simple but long process of making topping for ice cream or yoghurt or to spread on toast. The original recipe calls for melting down (but not boiling) sugar in exact proportion (1lb cherries, one pound of sugar) in a few tablespoons of water. Just before the sugar starts to brown, we throw in the well-rinsed and dried cherries and bring to a slow boil, stirring periodically until the juice around the cherries no long rolls down a wooden cutting board. Fania and I prefer putting in as little as a quarter the amount of sugar (you can always add it in later), which means that the boiling process takes longer until the cherries’ own sugars kick in.

In addition to the sugar amounts, there are many variations on the theme: add cherry, or amaretto o limoncello, or spices like cinnamon.

But the important thing is that my bunch did not shed their blood in vain.

 

(photos of blood an roses as soon as I find the cable to downoadthem 😉