Cinque Terre Limoncello

We once took an apartment in Monterosso al Mare,

the largest of the five villages of the Cinque Terre,

on the rugged coast of Liguria. We had a tiny

balcony in an ancient building and if you turned

sideways and leaned far out, you had a glimpse of

the sea. Our landlady, a lovely lady of some 80

years, invited us in for an aperitif on our first day

there and took a delicious, homemade limoncello

from her freezer.

I said that I would love to have the recipe.

Promptly at seven the next morning there was a

knock at the door and Signora burst into the

apartment with a sack of sugar, a jug of grain

alcohol, and a dozen golden lemons the size of

grapefruits. In my rudimentary Spanish, her

staccato Italian, a little English, and a great deal

of charades, we proceeded to make a spectacular

limoncello which I parsimoniously share with

friends to this day.

1 fifth of 100 proof vodka

5 cups of sugar

5 cups of water

14 large lemons, zested

Scrub lemons with a brush and hot soapy water to remove wax

or pesticides. Zest the lemons carefully to avoid white part of

the peel. Combine the vodka and lemon zest in a large jug,

cork, and put in a cool dark place for at least ten days. Bring

five cups of water to boil and add five cups of sugar. Stir well

and simmer until a clear syrup is produced. Let cool, add to

the infusion, and return to a cool, dark place for ten or more

days. When you remember, strain and bottle the limoncello

and enjoy.