Flavor Brigade: Italian Ice in Oakland!

Flavor BrigadeItalian ice hasn’t quite “become a thing” the Bay Area — at least not yet. In fact the only place we know of that specializes in it is Flavor Brigade on Fruitvale Ave in Oakland. We make it a point to try and position ourselves in the vicinity of Flavor Brigade as often as possible so we have an excuse to stop in for some Philly style “water ice” (another name for Italian ice). If we lived closer, I’m pretty sure we’d be there ALL the time. Continue reading

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Pink Grapefruit Granita

Shopping List: 3 Pink Grapefruits (plus one for garnish), Sugar

Viva la pamplemousse! My family’s been on a big grapefruit kick this year.  They seem to make their way to our dinner table 3-4 times a week. Such a great, refreshing dessert…. cut in half and you’re done. They need absolutely no amendment. In fact, I’ve yet to find a grapefruit recipe that I prefer to the fruit on its own. Luca loves using those little serrated spoons to scoop out the fruit, then squeezing out and drinking the juice. My husband and I both remember loving those spoons when we were kids, too.

The one grapefruit recipe I do make from time to time is granita (think Italian ice or frozen lemonade). It’s one of our favorite treats in Italy, but I wasn’t inspired to make it at home until I read Jeffrey Steingarten’s collection of culinary essays, “The Man Who Ate Everything“. He has an entire chapter devoted to granita and its history. (In case you’re curious, this slushy concoction dates back to the 1600’s and was popular across the Middle East and Europe). If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself drooling over his detailed descriptions of granitas from some of Sicily’s most famous gelaterias. Coffee granita and brioche for breakfast? Yes please!!!Luckily, it’s not too hard to make a decent granita at home. If you can juice a grapefruit and stir, you’re in business.

Pink Grapefruit Granita

(makes a little less than a quart)

  • Dissolve 3/4 cup sugar (you could dial this back a bit depending on the tartness of your fruit) into 2 cups water.
  • Finely zest half a grapefruit avoiding the white pith and add zest to sugar-water mixture.
  • Juice 3 grapefruits (approx 2 1/2 to 3 cups juice). Add the juice to the sugar and water mixture. Stir well. Taste to make sure the flavor works for you.
  • Pour into a freezer safe container. Wide and shallow is better because it will freeze faster.
  • Stir well every hour to break up and mix in the ice crystals that form. You’ll need to do this 3-4 times until you have a nicely uniform, slushy consistency.
  • Cover and let freeze solid.
  • To serve, let defrost for a 5-10 minutes then scrape the top with a fork and scoop the fluffy ice into a small goblet or bowl. I like to serve mine in espresso cups.
  • For some extra grapefruit tang, garnish with some grapefruit segments. As you cut the grapefruit garnish, reserve the juice and sprinkle over top.