Saturday, August 8, 2009
Limoncello is the generic name for an Italian citrus-based lemon liqueur that is served well chilled in the summer months. Limoncello is now considered the national drink of Italy and can be found in stores and restaurants all over Italy.
Italian Limoncello - How To Make Limoncello
2 bottles (750 ml) 100-proof vodka**
4 cups sugar
5 cups water
Choose thick-skinned lemons because they are easier to zest. Use 100-proof vodka, which has less flavor than a lower proof one. Also the high alcohol level will ensure that the limoncello will not turn to ice in the freezer.
•Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax; pat the lemons dry.
•Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or vegetable peeler so there is no white pith on the peel. NOTE: Use only the outer part of the rind. The pith, the white part underneath the rind, is too bitter and would spoil your limoncello. Check out my web page on How to Zest.
•In a large glass jar (1-gallon jar), add one bottle of vodka.
•Add the lemon zest as it is zested.
•Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature for at least (10) ten days and up to (40) days in a cool dark place. The longer it rests, the better the taste will be. (There is no need to stir - all you have to do is wait.) As the limoncello sits, the vodka slowly take on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest.
•In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water; cook until thickened, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
•Let the syrup cool before adding it to the Limoncello mixture.
•Add to the Limoncello mixture from Step One. Add the additional bottle of vodka. Allow to rest for another 10 to 40 days.
•After the rest period, strain and bottle: discarding the lemon zest.
•Keep your bottles of Limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve.
Monday, August 3, 2009
by Ellen Barone
The real genius of a Wayfarer vacation is that it’s as much about the essence of the experience – exposure to another way of life, learning a new language, the smells and sounds of the countryside, the enjoyment of fine food and wine and visits with local people – as it is about the walking.
I went to Provence because of Paul Cézanne and his Provençal landscapes of gnarled olive trees and lavender terraces. I went to meet the wonderful, warm and sometimes-irascible characters in Peter Mayle’s books. I went lured by the photogenic promise of rolling vineyards and orchards, picturesque hill towns and honey colored stone farmhouses.
And, I went to walk: to experience, on foot, a Provence that I could see, taste, smell, touch and hear.
Now, after a week of rambling through Impressionist landscapes infused with the perfume of flowering broom and aromatic herbs, lingering over café lunches in pretty villages tumbling down hillsides and attuning my ear to the melodious lilt of Provençal French, I’m hooked.
I realize, of course, that falling in love with Provence is beyond cliché. The region’s legendary charms have seduced and enchanted generations of artists and foreigners. It’s the kind of place where visitors arrive for a week and stay a lifetime. I was prepared to fall for Provence’s culture, character and cuisine. That was a no-brainer. What I was not prepared for was to fall head-over-hiking-boots in love with the pleasures of a walking vacation. The camaraderie. The knowledgeable guides. The exercise.
If you’re picturing grueling marches weighted down by heavy backpacks and Spartan hostel-style lodgings, think again. A walk with The Wayfarers falls into the category of “luxury adventure.” Which is to say, after a day spent wandering along sleepy rural tracks, shaded forest trails and ancient village streets and chatting with friendly farmers and villagers, you get to take a long hot bath, eat a gourmet dinner, drink fine French wine and sleep in the comfort of a luxury hotel.
Our guide, Eric, a convivial 58-year-old Frenchman and 15-year Wayfarers veteran, brought the landscape to life with his passion and understanding of the history, culture and people of Provence. Eric could identify any plant that sprouted, explain the life cycle of a grape vine, and seemed to know everyone in every village we visited. There were herbs everywhere - fennel, thyme, rosemary, sage and lavender - and Eric loved to point them out and talk about what made them special.
Behind the scenes, assuring our coddled comfort, was tour manager, Antonia, an elegant Brit who’s been living in France since the 70s. From the picnic snacks, to the fruit basket in the van, to the delicious café lunches and multi-course dinners that awaited us each evening, Antonia made it impossible to go hungry. Better yet, she would shuttle you to/from town in the van, drop you off for an afternoon massage, cart your purchases and, if you asked, enthrall you with tantalizing bits and pieces of her fairy tale life.
In the evenings, Après hike, when we would gather in the hotel bar for a drink and hors d’oevres, and, later, sit together family-style quaffing French wine, and enjoying a seasonal bounty of artichokes and asparagus, duck and lobster, strawberries and lemon, it seemed as if we’d known each other for years. Afterward, we’d go to bed, dead tired, ready to do it again the next day.
We left Provence on the morning of our seventh day. We packed our gear, had one last delicious breakfast, and, when the time came, boarded our trains and taxis with the slight feeling of melancholy you have when you depart something you know you’re going to miss. All of us were buried in our own thoughts.
Me, I was busy plotting my next walk. They say Tuscany is lovely in September …
Ellen Barone is a Travel Expert, Speaker, Journalist and Photographer