Although we haven’t been writing much, January has been very busy for us and we have collected some interesting things to bring to you in the coming weeks. As our regular readers know, we love lemon—just check out our Lemon LoveFest Library for lemon recipes from us and our readers. And we love our Meyer lemon tree and have made our own homemade limoncello and crema di limoncello. So, we don’t rave about things lemon unless we really like them.
Flash back to Italy’s Piemonte region, where Rich visited in 2009 and toured the Francoli distillery, with a focus on their grappa production—an interesting process with a rich history that Francoli has adapted in an environmentally–responsible manner. Francoli’s distillery is nestled at the Alpine foothills in the town of Ghemme, next to its twin city, Gattinara—we’ve previously written about them. Francoli makes a wide range of beverage products they sell in their flagship shop in Ghemme and export around the world. I recently ran across Francoli’s limoncello product—Lemon In Limoncello—in a local BevMo store. Limoncello is a tasty drink, but it is tricky to get it just right and takes time and patience to produce. We’ve had ones that are much too sweet or have a rough alcohol bite, and many that don’t provide a genuine lemon taste experience. Francoli’s Lemon In Limoncello has just the right balance of lemon, sweetness, tartness and alcohol to please. The intense lemon flavor comes through crisp and true, with a pleasing, lingering finish on the back of the palate. I recently contacted Alessandro Francoli to ask him how he got it so right.
When did you start producing Lemon In Limoncello and what inspired you to do it? Alessandro explained, “We started producing our limoncello about 20 years ago. At that time, limoncello became a big trend in Italy thanks to several small producers that followed the typical South Italian tradition of infusing lemons in alcohol and sugar. Most of those products were and are very good when freshly made, but they tend to become oxidized after a few months and lose their freshness and fragrance. Our aim was to produce a limoncello that had the same natural ingredients and high quality taste as the ‘homemade’ limoncellos, but with a longer shelf life. It fit into our mission to produce high quality, natural products.”
The intense lemon flavor is so distinctive, what type of lemons do you use? From where do they come? “The ‘Sfusato d’ Amalfi’ is the king of the lemon varieties used for producing limoncello. We use not only these lemons but also other varieties coming from Sicily and an infusion of Bergamot Orange from Calabria.” According to Wikipedia, Citrus bergamia, the Bergamot orange, is a fragrant fruit the size of an orange, with a yellow colour similar to a lemon. Genetic research into the ancestral origins of extant citrus cultivars recently matched the bergamot as a likely hybrid of Citrus limetta and Citrus aurantium. Citrus bergamot is a native hybrid of and commercially grown in Calabria, southern Italy, where more than 80% are found”. I love the balance of sweetness and tartness in your Lemon In Limoncello, which sets it apart from other lemoncellos. How did you strike that balance? “I think it has to do with the Bergamot infusion. We’ve been exporting it to the United States for about 10 years now and have been very well received. It’s also available throughout Europe and in New Zealand.”
Are there any cocktails that you make with your limoncello? “As you know in Italy we are traditional and tend to drink limoncello straight as an after–meal treat. It is usually served very cold in a frozen glass.” Though I normally do the same as in Italy, I mentioned that I’ve mixed Francoli’s Lemon In Limoncello with high–quality vodka with great results. I use 1/3 vodka and 2/3 Lemon In Limoncello, but mixing them in equal parts is nice for people who want something closer to a lemon martini. Alessandro elaborated, “My partner at Francoli USA in the United States mixes our limoncello with our duē Chardonnay–flavored vodka and swears by it.”
Leah loves to bake, and she sometimes makes a Limoncello Almond Pound Cake. Do you have any limoncello–based recipes to share? “Limoncello Tiramisù is something that you should try. It is delicious! I will send her the recipe.”
One of the intriguing things about your company is its sensible commitment to the environment. I’ve written about some of your distillery production methods and things you’ve done to recycle and reuse byproducts and virtually eliminate emissions. What else can you tell our readers? “In 2006, Distillerie Francoli and its Torraccia del Piantavigna winery commissioned a study to measure the quantity of carbon emitted during their industrial and commercial activities. The study calculated how many trees are necessary to absorb the emitted carbon in order to transform us into a ‘Zero Impact’ company for the atmosphere. So, we then embarked on a tree replanting project to offset our remaining impact. An area of Costa Rica was selected because of the unique biodiversity of its forest and the policies of its government, which are favorable to the conservation and development of its national forestry. The entire project, implemented thanks to the expertise and guaranteed commitment of the technical partner, LifeGate SpA, was undertaken on March 1, 2006 and will be monitored and updated over the years. Our period of custody for the assigned forest area is 40 years. A regulatory third-party, conforming to the standards UNI CEI EN 45011 and accredited for biological certification, will guarantee the application of the correct methodology.” That’s a very major commitment. “In this way, we can responsibly and confidently offer truly natural and delicious products.”
Francoli truly is an eco–friendly company in mission and practice. When we receive Francoli’s Limoncello Tiramisù recipe, Leah will make it and we’ll post it for our readers (and I’ll taste–test it). After all, we already have the key ingredient.
January 23, 2012 at 2:39 pm
It certainly is that time of year, my neighbors tree is full of Meyer Lemons and since he is not a fan he has designated it my tree. Equal amounts of fresh lemon juice, soy sauce, dijon mustard and a little oil makes a great marinade for chicken.
Ooh, that sounds good! We’re going to have to give it a try.