Joey Nigro writes: On our last visit to Italy, our group of 40 travelers stayed in a lovely hotel in Sorrento a few minutes walking distance from the main square. On our first day there, my mother and I wandered along the narrow streets behind the square lined with shops. I’m not much of a shopper but was casually looking for red earrings to wear onstage when I perform. My mother would pause at every shop window that displayed bottles of the popular Italian fruit liqueurs, comparing prices, quantity and the shape of the bottles. She was on a mission to buy crema di orangecello. I’m not much of a drinker so I showed very little interest but she persisted in trying to engage me and elicit my opinion on which one she should buy.
Months later, my co-host, Jim Battaglia invited us to dinner so that we could taste his homemade limoncello and orangecello. After a wonderful dinner, he took a bottle of each out of the freezer. I was immediately intrigued. Yes, Jim explained, as he poured the limoncello into little cordial glasses, keep it in the freezer. After one sip, I was hooked and wanted to know how to make it.
When we finally set a date, I asked my nephew Christoper Dunham and his girlfriend Corey Driscoll (both 4th generation Italian American/Irish American) if they would like to learn, too. It’s a two-step process, so one evening after a great dinner and lots of story telling and laughter, we began our first lesson, watching Jim as he carefully peeled the lemon and orange rinds, placed them in two jars, and covered them with the alcohol. Two weeks later, we were at Jim and Francine’s dinner table again for another fun evening, and for our lesson on straining and mixing the tart liquid with just the right amount of hot water and sugar.
If you’re really adventurous, Jim told us, you can try making fruity liqueurs using strawberries or melon! On that cue, Francine produced the crema di meloncello that she bought in one of the little shops on our trip to Italy!
Some interesting online references:
About CIAO! on WCNY FM: Italians love to say, “Canta che ti passa!” “Sing that it will pass!” so we always feature great music on CIAO!…a mix of old and new songs by our Italian American artists and Italian singers and composers…music that will lift your spirits…and music that you won’t hear anywhere else! Whether or not you’re Italian American, CIAO! is where you can enjoy the music, fun and traditions and celebrate the Italian in YOU! CIAO airs every Sunday afternoon at 3:00 on WCNY FM with me, Joey Nigro and my co-host Jim Battaglia (or online at http://www.wcny.org/radio/listen-now/classicfm). And find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/CIAO-on-WCNY/363893410303831 !