Sicilian breakfast at a fanastic gelateria in Florence.
I love Sicily. Just thinking about the place makes me want to book a seat on the next flight to Palermo, even if I know I can't go. Whenever I do visit, I come home laden with capers, wild oregano, hand-painted marzipan fruits, and tacky souvenir models of Sicilian carts. Sadly, though, I have to leave behind the sweetly scented, just-baked semolina bread and the tart, icy, sugary sensation of lemon granita.
So I knew I was going to be happy when I saw a bowl of big, lumpy lemons, a Sicilian cart and a ceramic plate adorned with the trinacria (the image of Medusa with three bent legs angling from her head to represent the three corners of the triangular island) at Gelateria Carabè here in Florence.
Owners Antonio and Loredana Lisciandro are from Patti, on the north coast of Sicily in the province of Messina. According to Antonio, the Messina style of granita is smooth and silky, in contrast to the Palermo or Catania styles, which are granular, frozen in a metal canister instead of in an ice-cream machine.
Antonio taught me how to eat the Sicilian breakfast of champions: coffee granita in a drinking cup, topped with barely sweetened whipped cream and served with a warm brioche on the side. Begin by digging the spoon into the corner of the whipped cream, exposing the granita. Taste the whipped cream, reinsert the spoon deeply, and gently stir the granita and cream to combine the two, creating a kind of frozen cappuccino. Break off a piece of the brioche and dip it into the cup, scooping up as much of the mixture as possible. Eat over the cup. Dream of Sicily.
Gelateria Carabè, via Ricasoli 60/r, Florence.
-November 10, 1995