The trick to visiting the island of Capri is to either go out of season or to sleep on the island. Taking one of the boats that ferry tourists back and forth all day from Naples only ensures you will be one of the throngs invading the small island with tiny streets and virtually no beaches.
Capri is a rocky island and most of its beaches are to be found only if you circumnavigate it by boat, something you won’t get the chance to do if you are there only for a few hours. As soon as the sun sets, though, the masses vanish and only those who stay in one of the few hotels or in private homes can take full advantage of that small Paradise. In my case, it means eating pizza and gelato until I burst.
I was thinking about Capri as I was pondering my lemon tree crop and what to do with it. The very first thing I did last time I was in Capri, once I dragged my suitcase up a steep hill and deposited it in my tiny room with the vast balcony overlooking the gulf, was to retrace my steps, saunter down towards the sea and stop at the first granita stand I encountered.
Southern Italy – and Sicily in particular – is famous for its citrus. Granita, a Sicilian invention, is the perfect use of citrus in Summer, and the perfect way to relieve the intense heat. If making ice-cream is not an option for you, for lack of the necessary equipment, granita only needs a freezer and a fork (although in some parts of Sicily granita is churned and has a different, creamier consistency).
Besides the citrus, the flavors are endless – I am partial to coffee and tamarind. But lemon is a good introduction if you have never made it. This version has enough sugar for my palate, not too sweet and not too sour, but you can adjust the amount to your taste.
1 C water
1/2 C of sugar
1/2 C lemon juice (about 2 or 3 lemons)
- Combine water and sugar in a small pot, adding a few strips of lemon zest. Heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool and remove the strips of zest. Add the lemon juice.
- Pour the liquid in a shallow bowl or container and stick it in the freezer. Rake the mixture with a fork every 30 minutes for about 3 hours, until completely frozen. Serve immediately.