WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, HEAD TO MENTON!

Every year come February, the little town of Menton on the French Riviera plays host to one of the most popular events in France - the annual Lemon Festival (Fête du Citron). The event has taken place every year since 1928 and a whopping 120 tonnes of citrus fruit is used annually to decorate the magnificent structures and floats that form the main attraction.

Production + Recipes : Inemari Rabie

Words by Anna-Bet Stemmet

Pictures by Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen

This year's festival took place between the 13th of February and the 2nd of March and we were there to soak up some citrus-y inspiration. Each year has a particular theme (Disney, Music of the World, 20 000 leagues under the sea) and this year's did not disappoint. With the Cinecittà (Italian cinema of the 50s and 60s) as theme, glamour was at the core of the festival's look and feel and we felt right at home.

As a nod to this fabulous festival, here are two of our favourite citrus-based recipes. The Clemencello takes a little while to ferment, but there's nothing lovelier than whipping out an aperitif after dinner and being able to say you made it from scratch. It also makes a wonderful gift! The Clemencello Granita, on the other hand, is incredibly easy to whip up with some prior notice and always elicits at least one ‘wow’. 

Enjoy!

CLEMENCELLO

Makes around 3ℓ

Ingredients

•    12 clementines or other citrus fruit
•    1ℓ fruit based alcohol (+/-90%)
•    850g sugar
•    2ℓ water

Method

  1. Wash and scrub the clementines and dry well. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest off the clementines in long strips and trim away the white pith from the peels. Discard the pith.
  2. Place the zest and alcohol in a container and cover with plastic wrap. Store in a dark place for 1-2 weeks to steep.
  3. Strain the mixture and discard the peel. Heat the sugar and water in a pot over medium heat. Boil for 4-5 minutes, remove from the heat and set aside to cool down. 
  4. Stir the alcohol and syrup together, decant into sterilized bottles and seal. Refrigerate until ice cold or ready to serve.

TIPS

  • Try to use a fruit-based alcohol and not general white spirits like vodka or rum.
  • If you are using small lemons increase the amount of lemons.
  • The flavour will also depend on the quality of your lemons.
  • You can alter the strength of the Limoncello according to taste by adding more or less sugar syrup. 

CLEMENCELLO GRANITA

This Clemencello-based palate cleanser is a super easy party starter and one of our favourite tricks that always makes a good impression. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 ml) Clemencello
  • 1 cup (250 ml) clementine juice
  • ½ cup (125 ml) water

Method

  1. Stir the Clemencello and juice together and pour it into a 20cm×30cm oven tray or glass dish. Place in the freezer for 1 hour.
  2. Scrape the mixture using a fork to break up the ice crystal and place back in the freezer. Repeat this process every hour for 4 hours or until the granita is completely frozen.
  3. Scrape the mixture again just before serving.

Originally published 24 March 2016