Exploring Sicily by Granita

By , Contributor

The intense heat makes for the perfect way to enjoy the end of the summer and squeeze every last drop out — a summer below zero with an authentic granita. You can buy a granita in many flavors at almost any coffee bar in Italy. In Sicily, granita is really an art. Who can blame the Sicilians for coming up with a way to enjoy a coffee in a place where summer temperatures regularly reach the 100 degree mark?

Granita has somewhat of a cult following in Sicily, and you can tour the beautiful island and be sure that almost anywhere you go you can refresh with a chilled granita. Here are some of my favorite stops, besides the beaches, art, and ruins:

In Palermo get thee to Al Pinguino, via Ruggero Settimo, 86 where the granita is crystal-like. The granitas are seasonal; in summer, it's best to try the black fig granita and in winter the blood orange granita.

In Taormina, the beaches are splendid but the granita is heavenly. I stop at Gelatomania, corso Umberto, 7, to satisfy the chocoholic in me — their granita alla Nutella and granita with white chocolate and hazelnut are the ultimate. When you arrive on the charming island of Stromboli, stop at Ritrovo Ingrid in piazza San Vincenzo to enjoy a fig granita while discovering this retro stop made famous by a black and white film with the iconic Ingrid Bergmann.

If you can't get to Sicily, no worries, your kitchen will suffice for a substitute "staycation." Make your own homemade granita. And although the only ingredients are espresso, water, and sugar, the real granita artisans will tell you that the outcome of your granita heavily depends on the quality of water and coffee used. So plain old tap water will just not do!

Homemade Coffee Granita

4 cups water
1 cup dark espresso coffee
2 cups granulated sugar

Stir together all ingredients in a large shallow pan. Place in freezer and cover with plastic wrap. After one hour, use a fork to break up any ice that has formed. Re-cover with plastic wrap. And then you need to repeat this four more times every hour. Serve topped with whipped cream.

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Celebrity chef and award-winning author Maria Liberati is considered one of the foremost experts on Italian cuisine and culture in the United States. Winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for her best-selling recipe novel series The Basic Art of Italian Cooking and her blog. Maria divides her…

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