I have been traveling a bit lately. Some for work, some for pleasure. One of the trips I took this month was to Naples and Sorrento in Italy. I had been to Naples before and knew to expect the heart breaking contrast between the beauty of the place and its messiness, with graffiti and crime. On the second visit, though, the less-than-perfect features were not noticeable; what stood out and brought me pleasure was the literally "azure-blue" sea, tiny markets, late-night pizza while watching the passeggiata, all jet-lagged and still feeling like I am outside of my body. The "pinch me, am I really here in Italy right now?" experience.
I was fortunate to spend my three days in Naples in the company of an Italian friend. While I can vaguely follow the general direction of the conversation in Italian, I am in no way capable of actually communicating in it. My friend was my interpreter, my explainer of things, my way to take a more intimate peek into the culture.
She is a botanical artist, which means she paints plants with a perfect degree of accuracy. Meandering along the narrow (and slightly claustrophobic) streets of the city we came upon a man who was selling pomegranates right out of a bag. The fruit still had branches with gorgeous leaves attached to it. Honestly, the man did not look like he harvested the pomegranates in his own garden... but that's Naples :). My friend bought a few pomegranates from him because they make a beautiful subject for her art. And we spent the rest of the day - our visit to a museum, our lunch at a little cute restaurant, our shopping - with those branches merrily and oddly sticking out of her purse. How I longed to have a couple of those pomegranate beauties so that I can bring them home and use them for my art, photography, but - everyone knows, there is no bringing food or plants into the US!
So I decided to buy and photograph pomegranate the minute I got home. My blog is focused on food, so of course I would cook something with it. After searching for various ideas I chose pomegranate gelato. Read on for a recipe.
But before the gelato recipe, I would like to share a few moments in Naples and Sorrento as I saw them. I was not focusing on photography, actually. In fact, I rarely brought my camera along. But I did snap a few shots. Like this couple below, waiting out the rain on Piazza del Plebiscito.
After the murky water here in the Gulf of Mexico the blue of the Mediterranean looks as though it has been dyed on purpose... and you feel like staring into the tranquil distance forever.
Now on to the actual recipe. The gelato comes out creamy, slightly tangy, and with a pleasing zing of the liqueur. The recipe is heavily based on the one I found on Epicurious.
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (190 gr) sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup (300 ml) bottled pomegranate juice
1/3 cup (80 ml) pomegranate liqueur (Creme de Cassis or Chambord works well, too)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
In a saucepan, whisk together the first 5 ingredients. Bring to boil and cook, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Strain if there are any lumps. Add the remaining ingredients and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour. Freeze in the ice cream maker, then in the freezer until firm.