Monday, October 6, 2014

Concord Grape Sorbet

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I mentioned in my last post that my main purpose on my most recent trip to Italy was to eat as much good gelato as I could.  I wasn't joking.  I think the first 9 pictures I shared from the trip were just pictures of all the gelato I was eating.

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I started off in Rome with a rice, sesame, and chestnut honey gelato from Il Gelato di Claudio Torce.  I learned later from my cousin that the little cone on top is actually supposed to be used as an edible spoon.  So cute!

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Next I wandered into the Trastavere neighborhood for a bit of Fior di Luna's Concord grape sorbetto and fig gelato.  The Concord grape flavor was perfect but overwhelmed the more subtle fig.

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Lastly, I stopped by my all time favorite gelateria in Rome, Gelateria del Teatro for their chocolate orange and my favorite flavor, honey rosemary lemon

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In Florence, I tried the panna cotta with caramel at Il Triangolo delle Bermuda (where I also had the ribollita).

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Right next to the Ponte Vecchio is Gelateria delle Carrozze, where I tried their strawberry and coconut gelato.  Both were very true to flavor.

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The next day we stopped by Carabé in between the Accademia and the Duomo for a scoop of pistachio.

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After lunch at Cantinetta dei Verrazzano, we went across the street to Perché No? (which means "why not?") for a chocolate sorbet and mint gelato.

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The last gelato of the day was an amaretto from Carapina, which ended up being my favorite in Florence because of the texture.  I love that real Italian gelato is kept at a temperature just above freezing so it's always soft and easy to scoop. 

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Coincidentally, we just happened to be in Florence the same time as the gelato festival!  After having 5 gelatos for dinner the following day, I was officially done with gelato for a while.  (I didn't have my next scoop until several days later after a 2 hour hike between Monterosso and Vernazza in Cinque Terre!)

Out of all these, the flavor that impressed me the most was the Concord grape sorbetto from Fior di Luna.  I remember trying the Concord grape flavor from San Crispino the year before and not being very impressed, but this time it was the complete opposite.  The sorbet totally captured the full burst of flavor you get when biting into a Concord grape without all the hassle of having to spit out the seeds and skin afterward.  Luckily, Concord grape season is upon us, so I was able to get a couple of quarts from the supermarket to try to recreate the sorbet.

I basically followed the recipe from Gourmet, but instead of adding the full amount of sugar, I started with 1/4 cup, which ended up being enough for me.  Depending on how much purée you end up with and how sweet your grapes are, you'll want to adjust the amount of sugar; it should taste just a little too sweet at room temperature since once it's frozen it'll taste less sweet.  To add a little depth to the sorbet I added a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of red wine, which also helps keep the sorbet from getting too icy.

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Concord Grape Sorbet (adapted from Gourmet)
makes about 3 cups

2 quarts Concord grapes, destemmed
1/4 cup sugar, plus more, to taste
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon red wine

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Purée half of grapes in a blender until smooth, then force through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.  (If you have a very powerful blender like a Vitamix, you probably don't want to blend on high since you want the seeds to stay whole.)

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Repeat with remaining grapes to yield 3 cups purée. (I ended up with a little more than 2 cups.)  Whisk in sugar, salt, and red wine.  Taste and add more sugar if necessary, just until the mixture is a little too sweet at room temperature.  Chill until very cold, 3 to 6 hours.

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Freeze in ice cream maker, then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to firm up, at least 2 hours.

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You can also pour the frozen churned sorbet into popsicle molds to make really awesome Concord grape popsicles!

Next:  Indonesian Avocado Milkshake
Previously:  Ribollita (Tuscan Bread Soup)
Last Year:  Apple Cider Donuts
Two Years Ago:  Magical Cold Brew Coffee

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