Monday, July 2, 2012



So we grew together, 
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted, 
But yet an union in partition. 
- William Shakespeare 

Summers in Florida, Israel, Italy, Nigeria, summers so hot breathing is labored, summers so stifling one gasps for breath and searches out even the smallest iota of relief. A smattering of cold showers sporadically throughout the day, ice cream sucked down with no consideration of calories, sweet drinks with plenty of ice, the chilly glass first rubbed across cheeks, pressed against the forehead and held against the chest. A bric-à-brac of fans made from old magazines and newspapers, handkerchiefs or most anything will do to stave off the hotness. Summer days so scorching it is difficult to concentrate, nights sweltering, anything but sultry, no hint of romance in the rumpled, damp sheets strewn haphazardly across the bed. Lights dimmed, the noise of too many television sets droning in the distance, in the silence of the evening, windows thrown open to catch even the merest whisper of a breeze, letting out lives and family secrets to mingle over the rooftops.

How many sizzling, sticky, torrid summers have I lived through that I should be used to it by now? How many cool summers kissed by rain have I lived through, complaining, wondering where the warmth has run to, astonished each morning as I slip into a sweater that I could have ever damned and cursed those sweltering seasons before? Year in, year out and we wait to discover what kind of summer it will decide to be all the while romanticizing past summers in another country, on a different continent, summers that, through time and hazy memory have somehow become magically gorgeous, temperate and filled with adventure.

As the years pass and memories of childhood and youth blur and perfect, I tend to remember only the best, the comfortable shady mornings playing in the street, the sunny afternoons at the public swimming pool eating icy treats in between dips, Fourth of July picnics at Wickham Park in the cool lake breeze. One tends to forget the burning cement of the sidewalks, the oppressive heat of afternoons waiting impatiently for the end of a June school day or intolerable evenings on a terrace in Italy praying for a wisp of air, the dry, arid heat of a day hiking in the Negev or trying to keep two little babies cool during a canicule, a heatwave, while rolling through the French countryside in an old, rattling deux chevaux, windows open, barely feeling any relief from the wind whipping our hair, wind as hot and heavy as no wind at all.

Yet, those hot, hot summers are interspersed with sweet memories of staying cool, practices that quickly became traditions, habits formed, customs embraced, the focus of so many fond remembrances: drinking icy Coca Colas on a Jerusalem street; tall glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice every morning in Lagos, a quinine pill washed down with the sweet, refreshing drink; thick, chilled slices of watermelon eaten standing in the front yard of a Florida summer day, sticky juice dripping down chins and off of gangly elbows, children spitting black seeds across the grass in bursts of giggles; cherry Italian ices from the truck driving through a Long Island neighbourhood during family vacation, those funny triangular ices slurped down after an afternoon playing in the park; trips to the gelateria, a young mother holding onto two tiny, slippery hands, ordering a single cornetto each, scoops of gelato "Caffé per la mamma, cioccolato per Clemente e una pallina di crema per Simone". Or, better yet, when the mercury pushes up to dizzying heights, when the sweat trickles down one’s back and clothing weighs heavy, pressing against the skin, when eating becomes impossible, the dog days of summer snatching away the remnants of an appetite, and even sitting under the vines twining lazily up and around our terrace offers no peace, we make the winding trip to another gelateria, the one a block or two away, an even hotter trip, for their granità in a rainbow of flavors, watermelon and lemon, strawberry and peach, icy, slushy and offering respite from the skyrocketing temperatures.

And home again in the evening as the day winds down and the boys play, husband and I kick back and relax, glass of chilled bubbly Prosecco in hand. Oh so Italian, a good Prosecco is the ideal adult refreshment. A nice lemony sorbet drenched with a kick of vodka, a tall goblet of Prosecco accompanied by slices of ripe, flavorful tomatoes layered with buffalo mozzarella with just a slight tang and garden fresh basil, a granità in whatever flavour you choose, these are the lasting memories, the wonders of living in Italy. I remember my first granità al caffé in New York’s Little Italy with my brother before even my first trip to France. Coffee-infused ice chips layered with barely sweetened whipped cream and I was in heaven. Our trips to the local wine shop to select a bottle or two for a party invariably found us tucking a Prosecco into our sack. There are just some things that make summer bearable, traditions carried with me from one country to the next as we learn how to live with the oppression of scorching, torrid, sweltering summers.

Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; 
to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. 
- Henry James 

It had been so long since a good bottle of Prosecco graced our coffee or dinner table until Bisol Prosecco entered my very French life. Thanks to Bisol’s generous sponsorship of From Plate to Page Tuscany and Somerset, we have renewed our love affair with this splendid drink, this elixir of the gods. Chase away the devil, the bad mood and the heat with a glass or two of chilled Cartizze, elegant and fruity, or Crede, richer, with hints of apple and pear. Or our summer favorite, Bisol Desiderio Jeio, a bubbly rosé. Hints of rose, fresh fruit, citrus highlight this elegant, crisp sparkling wine of delicate Champagne pink; it is our go-to accompaniment with appetizers, dessert and, yes, dinner as well, especially a cool seafood platter. So when the desire swept over me to prepare a granità to see us through the summer, I knew that I would pair the Desiderio Jeio with sweet seasonal cherries for an extra-special, very adult treat. Ah, yes, cherries spiked with Prosecco, frozen and icy… summer doesn’t get better than this.

How can something so cool be so very hot? 

From a recipe in Marie Claire Idées summer recipe issue

14 oz (400 g) fresh cherries, stems removed and pitted
5/8 cup (150 ml) Bisol Prosecco or any other sparkling wine, rosé or white, or a dry white wine
6 Tbs runny/liquid honey
¼ tsp Nielsen Massey lemon extract or 2 tsps lemon juice

Rinse the cherries, remove and discard stems and pits. Place the cherries in a robot or blender and mix to purée. Place in a mixing bowl.

Add the Prosecco, the honey and the lemon extract or lemon juice and blend or whisk well. Pour the liquid into a freezer-safe container, a metal pan or a plastic container, preferably with a lid, and place in the freezer. The larger and shallower your pan (8 x 12 x 1 inch/20 x 30 x 2 cm), the quicker the granità will be ready to eat.

For a shallow pan, stir the granità every 15 minutes or so, using a fork, spatula or metal spoon, until ready to serve. For a deeper container, stir every few hours and then leave in the freezer overnight. Stir it up before serving.

Serve as is or, for a more decadent treat or elegant dessert, serve with a dollop of unsweetened or very lightly sweetened whipped cream.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A wonderful granità! So refreshing and delicious. At the moment, I am drinking tons of iced coffee...

Lovely pictures!



thelittleloaf said...

What an absolutely gorgeous flavour combination.

I'm off to Italy in a couple of weeks and the granite there are to die for. I also love sgroppino which is sorbet mixed with prosecco, so can imagine a sorbet made WITH prosecco is also amazing :-)

A Thought For Food said...

This is why I don't live in Florida (and never will)... can't handle that kind of heat. It's brutal here in New England, but that humidity would just ruin me.

What a refreshing (boozy) treat!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Love the way to contrast the way we always want it to be the other way;-) except there are a few of us, me, who would always welcome the cooler as opposed to the warmer.
The prosecco ... YES! please.

Heather said...

The color of your granita is just stunning...of course I'm a sucker for anything cherry. So perfect for these hot, HOT days. Our humidity is 89% right now and it's predicted to get to 95 today. I am NOT a happy camper.

Robin | what-about-the-food said...

Elegant, vibrant and delectably cool. I would love a dish of this granità and a glass of Prosecco. Juse perfect!

Mairi @ Toast said...

Wonderful! Your post makes me yearn for hot summer days & a chilled glass of rose as I sit here in the middle of Winter :)

Mairi @ Toast said...

Wonderful! Your post makes me yearn for hot summer days & a chilled glass of rose as I sit here in the middle of Winter :)

Lisa said...

You know how I feel about searing heat and humidity. Most people retire to warm climates - I'll be retiring to Alaska ;D What a beautiful and refreshing granita. Nothing like ice cold fresh cherries spiked with Prosecco. Great clicks..definitely FG and TS 'yays'.

Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef said...

I've only lived in Florida and Queensland and these were hot enough for me. :)

This granita looks SO refreshing but I'm freezing right now so I might wait for summer on this one.

It's really a beautiful dish.

bunkycooks said...

Your description of very hot summers perfectly describe the weather we are having now. I thought it was unbearable while in Europe a few weeks ago, but we are now experiencing something similar in the South. I also enjoy a good Prosecco and we had a few glasses while in Italy. I love the idea of the cherries with the Prosecco and the iciness of the granita...perfect for this summer weather!

Deeba PAB said...

You don't know what hot summers are dahling till you get here .. and God knows how much I deserve/long for that granita! Fabulous and so refreshing! WOW! I love cherries and granita! My watermelon granita just turned to water in a 45C powercut...beam me in dahling!

lisa is cooking said...

I'm trying really hard not to complain about the heat of summer this year. It's not as bad as last year!

I wasn't kidding when I tweeted that I'd be making this right after I saw your mention of it. I just pitted the cherries, and I'm pulling out the blender now. Can't wait for it to freeze!

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

Lovely Jamie. I left a nice, long, meaningful comment. Blogger ate it. Just know we could be soul sisters over Prosecco. Major love.

A Canadian Foodie said...

I haven't had that scorching memory for years and years - or even thought of it that way... but I have been embodied in it every summer in the former Yugoslavia - but the landscape is so foreign to my personal frame of reference that I never put it together until now. The sour cherry tree in my back yard will be put to good use this summer.

Nuts about food said...

You described my life these weeks down to a T, just as I was writing a post about it. The slippery kiddie hands, the gelato, the great heat of a Milanese summer... oh, prosecco and cherries... so cold, such a beautiful color, I need that granita now!

tasteofbeirut said...

I would love to inhale this right now! The heat and mugginess has been getting to me lately, and I was dying for an ice-cold 7-up until I saw your photo of this heavenly treat!!!!

Rambling Tart said...

I'm so cold on this dark, winter night that the thought of something icy makes me shiver. :-) But this IS beautiful, Jamie, and I know I will absolutely love it when Australia's sweltering summers come around again. :-)

Helene said...

Couple years ago I spend June in West Palm Beach. I could not get out because it was too warm for me. Refreshing granita!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

It's a steamy July 4 in Rhode Island, and just looking at your photos cools me down. I love the addition of lemon here.

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said...

Oh this is my kind of dessert, easy and elegant! I'm a big fan of lemony sorbet drenched with vodka as well, a summertime favorite for sure.

Jennifer (Delicieux) said...

Your granita looks divine! Makes me wish it's summer here as this looks like the perfect thing to enjoy on a hot summers day.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

I know the hot summers of Florida, Qatar, Dubai and Europe ... we always yearn for what we do not have right. Just like I am yearning for this incredible granita! God i just love this color! I have to be honest - I used most of the Bisol to dringk as it!! ;o)

Carolyn Jung said...

I spent four summers living in Florida. Oh my! There were days I prayed I wouldn't have to go outside. LOL If only I had endless vats of this granita to make it all more bearable.

mjskit said...

I just bought some gorgeous wild cherries at the market yesterday and I think this recipe was made for them! They're a little tart, which I love and I think they will pair very nice with the sparkling wine. Thanks for such a great recipe!

Sonia said...

Hey, I always get enticed by all your Superb recipes and here you get another feather in your hat ! I cant wait to try my hands on it. It is looking so good with all the lovely pictures and write up as well. Have a wonderful week ahead. Enjoy. Thanks & Regards, Sonia !!!

Terra said...

Oh this would be wonderful right now, this Summer heat is pretty intense:-) I adore cherry treats.....but I think I like a cherry + wine even better:-) Hugs, Terra

Rossella said...

What a refreshing image.
Prosecco for me is quite a common friend on the table...being born in Friuli. In Rome I've learnt to low granitas or "grattachecca", maybe grattachecca are even better.
As always, it's a pleasure to read your posts.


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