With my recent trip to Venice, Italy, still fresh in my mind, I find myself reminiscing on all things Venetian.
Most people know that the Bellini was the brainchild of Mr. Cipriani of Harry’s Bar fame, in Venice. He came up with the cocktail some time between the mid-1930s and 40s by mixing Prosecco, White Peach Puree and a tiny amount of raspberries for the famous hue. What I didn’t know was that Mr. Cipriani named it Bellini after the nuances of light and color of a tunic in a particular painting by Giovanni Bellini, the renowned painter who worked in Venice in the 1500’s. So, here you have it. I am clearly obsessed with food facts which I annoyingly take out of my hat at the most disparate moments, even running food fact contests at work much to the chagrin of my staff…But next time you have a Bellini with your brunch, you can drop this little gem on the table.
A Bellini at Harry’s Bar will nowadays set you back the equivalent of a day’s work wage and you won’t be likely to come across any of the celebrities that populated it four or five decades ago – just a bunch of moneyed tourists, mainly Russians, or those few Americans who can still afford to travel to Italy and squander money on lavish meals. But the Bellini was a lovely stroke of genius and deserves its fame. I am not much of a drinker but I do like to incorporate booze in food whenever possible and as I was walking along the aisle of Wholefoods a few days ago I spotted a Peach Gelato in the frozen case which made me think of peaches and champagne and pushed me to try to make a Bellini Ice Cream.
Using white peach puree, as tradition calls, my sous chef and I came up with a smooth peach ice cream with more than a hint of prosecco, perfect for an end of meal by its own or paired with a simple, fruity dessert. What better way to use the last of the peaches?…well, at least if you live in California….
BELLINI ICE CREAM
1 qt (1 liter) Heavy Cream
16 oz (1/2 liter) Milk
1.5 C (200 g) Sugar
2 Vanilla Beans
12 Egg Yolks
1 C White Peach Puree (about 500 ml)
Italian Prosecco or any Napa version to taste
Note: Peach puree can be bought frozen at specialty stores (Perfect Puree from Napa, CA is an excellent brand. Allternatively, peel and cut some peaches, blend them and strain them)
1. Combine cream, milk, sugar and the scraped vanilla beans + pods in a pot. Scald.
2. Take the pot off the heat and ladle some of the hot liquid into the bowl where you will have placed the egg yolks. Whisk vigorously and keep on adding liquid until the egg yolks are tempered.
2. Pour the yolk mixture back into the pot, whisk and strain. Add the peach puree and let cool.
3. Once the ice cream base has cooled down, start adding the prosecco and taste. Add until your palate is satisfied but be careful that by adding too much you risk having a hard time freezing the ice cream because of the sugar content in the wine.
4. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions and pour into ice cream containers.
5. To avoid freezer burn, place some waxed paper on the surface of the ice cream before sealing the container with a lid.
6. It keeps in the freezer for up to 2 months.