Summer is here and it’s time for icy refreshing drinks to cool you down when the temps and humidity get high. One of my favorite thirst quenchers was taught to me by my Sicilian born paternal Grandmother, Giuseppa (Josephine) Lucia Vizzi Battaglia. Born in Sciacca, Agrigento, Sicily she immigrated to the USA with her Mom and siblings around 1900. Her Dad already had established residency on NYC’s street of Sicilian immigrants, Elizabeth St. Grandma married my Grandfather, Francesco Battaglia in 1912, they were neighbors on Elizabeth St. He too was born in Sciacca, Sicily and immigrated around the same time. After having 3 children (my Dad being one of them) they moved to the “country”, the NYC borough of Staten Island settling in one of many Italian enclaves during those years. In 1923 they bought a home in the Mariners Harbor section and continued growing their family. Nine children later (one dying as a young child from pneumonia) their family grew exponentially. You couldn’t ask for a Grandma who loved her Grandchildren more, I believe a little more than she loved her own kids. All 24 of us were the apples of her eye. When I think of Grandma Battaglia I think of hugs, great big bear hugs and pinches with those Sicilian mits of hands she had. When you went to her house she fed you, even pushing food into your pockets as you left. One of my favorite memories of “things Grandma made” was her SICILIAN ICED ESPRESSO WITH ORANGE. In true Sicilian tradition her Iced Espresso was strong, very sweet, and infused with the juice and peel of sliced Oranges. Today, June 19 is the 45th anniversary of my beloved Grandma’s passing. Every time I make a pitcher of this it’s as if she’s opening her fridge in her big kitchen and taking the tupperware or Plastic pitcher loaded with Iced espresso, sugar, ice, and oranges and pouring a big glass for me, of course the glass was loaded with ice so it was the sweetest, coldest, most refreshing tumbler of a drink..EVER. Simply brew 10 cups of Espresso, use a good Italian coffee for this. Pour it into a pitcher. Dissolve 1/2 cup of Sugar (super fine works best if you can get it)..what? You’re staying away from sugar? OK, just remember, Sicilians love SWEET things. Since I’m making this Grandma’s way, use the sugar (or keep it unsweetened, not very Sicilian, just sayin….or use Splenda, or any other sugarless sweetner to taste). Slice 2 oranges into wedges. Squeeze each wedge into the coffee. Then add the wedges. Stir well. Taste…sweet enough? If not, add more. Let it chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Then add lots of ice. Stir. Let stand in the fridge for 1 hour. Serve. You’ll be addicted. Pour in Glasses filled with more ice. I’m smiling from ear to ear sharing this with you, a gift from my Grandmother’s kitchen. Everyday I am grateful that I had both my Italian born Grandmothers in my life. When you have your glass, raise it and toast my Grandma Battaglia…Salute’ e Cent’Anni.

1971..Grandma Battaglia in the center surrounded by her children…Anna, Betty, Accursio (Gus), Angelina, Pietro(Pete, my dad), Jennie (Jean) and in front, the twins, Margaret and Lillian. Staten Island, NYC




An amazingly flavored dessert/drink that comes from Italy is the perfect idea for your Summer entertaining (ok, not just Summer but i’m trying to play up the seasonal thing here).  It’s called AFFOGATO and it means DROWNED.  A scoop (s) of usually VANILLA GELATO is placed in a chilled glass, cup , or bowl and hot ESPRESSO is poured over it.  Let’s talk here for a moment.  I’m American so I will have to say, you can use a good creamy naturally flavored VANILLA ICE CREAM and a good strong BLACK COFFEE for this treat.  It’s way better though when you stick to the original and proper when possible and find (or make if you’re into that) Vanilla Gelato and make a pot of Espresso.  Now again, since I’m American I’m almost forced into telling you that you can top this with Amaretti Crumbs, Shaved Chocolate, I guess the sky is the limit.  I will also tell you that now you are making an Ice Cream Sundae of sorts and you’ve sucked the Italian soul completely out of the mix.  Americans LOVE having lots of varieties especially when it comes with toppings. Me, I’m more the purist and I prefer this as the Italians intended it to be made.  Lots of overkill “recipes” for this on the web.  Why complicate???

To  make this tasty treat…simply scoop Vanilla Gelato or Ice Cream into a chilled glass that can withstand heat, we want no accidents here..or into a bowl (safer),then for each scoop, 1 1/2 ounces of hot espresso over the top.  Serve…eat/drink enjoy.    This, along with a platter of cut Summer fruits and berries and some biscotti is a great way to end a Summer’s meal.

The picture is of an AFFOGATO I enjoyed for dessert at the OBICA’ MOZZARELLA BAR, Canary Wharf, London     ( I know, that’s not Italy, but so what,It’s Europe..LOL) in July 2014 on family vacation (or should I say Holiday since it was in London???).  Just to keep my authenticity badge, I have had this in Italy but there’s not corresponding picture.  So there’s that.  Now enjoy the Summer and enjoy the foods and gatherings that make it the great season it is.

Now if you want to expand on the basic “affogato” as nature intended it…here’s some ideas, for you boozy adults, a bit of your favorite Liquore, think ones that go well with vanilla and coffee like Amaretto, Fra Angelico, Kaluha….or for the non boozy types some Nutella, Chocolate or Caramel Syrup.  I’ll keep mine gelato and espresso.  Enjoy!!



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Who doesn’t love an immigrant story…especially one where what’s
been brought from their native country is transplanted into the new country and winds up being more popular today
in the new country than in it’s country of origin.  Americans are many times looked at as newbies in the cultural time-
lines of the world but what Americans have a knack for is holding onto those traditions that their ancestors brought
with them.  I was once told by an Italian that much of what comprises the Italian-American cultural tradition is on
the downswing in Italy and in many cases, America just made what might have been a small regional tradition into
a big deal on this side of the Atlantic.  One such tradition, a food tradition (of course it would be food I’m talking
about) is SPUMONI.  Chances of finding Spumoni all over Italy today would be pretty rare.  Why?  It was never
something that was eaten/made up and down the boot.  It most likely is from the city of Naples, or Napoletana, or
Neapolitan.  Follow this evolution, Spumoni is a frozen dessert, cream with whipped cream added, sort of a
frozen mousse  usually done in three flavors…a chocolate, a vanilla or pistachio, and a cherry..touched with the
flavorings you would find in an Italian Pastry candided fruits, cherries, pistachios, almonds, rum,,
cinnamon oil, the usual suspects.  The layers are pressed into a mold and it’s frozen, served in slices or scoops.
Remember I said “Neapolitan?  The Ice Cream flavor in the U.S. called Neapolitan which is a mix of vanilla,
chocolate and strawberry takes it’s idea from Spumoni, which comes from Naples.  Interesting stuff.   Here in
the U.S. Spumoni is generally found in the areas with higher Italian Populations.  Of course, whenever I talk my
own childhood history, Staten Island comes into play.  Nearly every spumoni I shoveled into my childhood face was
made at an Ice Cream factory in Staten Island called SEDUTTO’S ICE CREAM.  An immigrant from the area
around Naples,
10965_1151469789308_1304531591_30356921_1242298_nGiuseppe (Joseph) Sedutto immigrated to NYC and worked as a pastry chef in NYC’s fancy hotels
of the day.    Along with his brothers, he began the Sedutto Ice Cream Company in
Staten Island and grew it into a large operation that primarily served hotels, catering halls, and restaurants with
their Italian frozen desserts, like Spumoni, Tortoni, Bombes, plus Ice Cream Cakes, Ice Creams.  Every meal
out or catered affair of my youth ended with a “log” of Spumoni or a paper cup of Tortoni.  I’m going to guess
that the first spumoni that found it’s way passed my lips was Sedutto’s.  Here’s a picture of an actual Sedutto’s
Spumoni from the 1973 Catalog. 
Seriously, If you have a food memory, the Internet is loaded with proof that you really did remember something
correctly. There is it…my God did I love    when that “log”, actually a slice of Spumoni was served at the end of the
meal.  To this day I love Spumoni.  Unfortunately the Staten Island connection with Spumoni is long gone, the
Sedutto family sold the business to big corporate America and then one day it was gone. The lead picture in this
post still has my hands sticky from eating it.  August 22 is designated as National Spumoni Day, so, off to Ralph’s
Ices (another Staten Island institution who thankfully has a few locations now down here at the Jersey Shore) for
a celebration of Spumoni Day.  That cup in the picture was damn delicious.  Hold on while I take another lick.  Ok,
back to blogging…If you are ever in Brooklyn, the iconic L & B Spumoni Gardens is a place to enjoy a great meal and
their signature Sicilian pizza, finishing the meal off with their Spumoni..

Another Spumoni mecca in the United States is Angelo Brocato in New Orleans, on my bucket list…their slice of
Spumoni looks amazing   How beautiful
is that????  20 Angelo-Brocato-New-Orleans
I’ve never made Spumoni, and quite frankly, probably never will, this is one thing that i don’t mind buying out..but, in
True A FOOD OBSESSION style I will give you a recipe, courtesy of Lidia Bastianich, who else??

Check that out, make it if you care to, i’ve never used the recipe, so, if it doesn’t come out right, well, that’s my warning,
but Lidia, really…i don’t think you have to worry about using her recipes, I’m comfortable posting it to here for you.

As this August 21, 2014, National Spumoni Day comes to a close I’ll remember  how excited   as a kid I’d get when
we would drive along Richmond Terrace in Port Richmond and pass the Sedutto’s Factory…I knew there was
Spumoni  behind those doors!  006

Another web find…a pic of Sedutto’s Factory in 1953.   Make your delicious memories even more delicious by
creating or finding those foods that were part of your personal history.  It’s why I blog, post, and share.