FLORENCE, Italy- A Sicilian icy treat, granita, has a texture that is a balance of sorbet and slushie melted into one. It has the smooth texture of sorbet, but is syrupy and almost drinkable in form. At ará in Florence near the Acedemia that houses Michelangelo’s David, it comes in most unusual flavors. “Granita di caffè”, coffee granita, is wonderful paired with a brioche or a small sweet roll at breakfast, lunch or dinner. But try the brioche roll with limone, lemon, mandorla, almond, fragola, or strawberry as well for a fresh approach.
Servings come in small cups primarily in the summer months when it is hottest.
The process starts with the creation of simple syrup by heating a combination of water and sugar. The sweet syrup is then added to the fruit juice that will blend with the ice. It is then kept chilled until served.
The origins of the granita come from Arab influence. They made it from snowy ice in the mountains of Sicily and blended it with rose water. For nobles, it became a refreshing drink in the hot Sicilian summer months. Today, its popularity has spread throughout Italy and can be found in scattered gelateria as well, including ará, located in the center of Florence, Italy.