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swirl and savor

A Little Cup of Italy

Beth Ribblett

I'll never forget the first time I had an affogato.  Simultaneously exhausted and invigorated after a long flight to Roma and a puddle jumper to Catania, we had just arrived in Sicily.  It was October and our first try at organizing a wine and food tour in Italy.  As one of our partners in crime, Cynthia Nicholson, went to the rental place to start the long process of Americans renting cars in Sicily, she sent us across the street for a shot of caffeine, an obvious necessity for two deliriously tired women who were preparing to drive a car from Catania, up the slopes of Mount Etna to our agriturismo.

As many times as we've been to Italy, we still marvel at the quality of espresso/cappuccino you can get at a simple roadside stand or gas station.  So here we were in this dinky little place across from the car rental office (think Airline Highway...), and there it is on the menu, affogato al cafe.  How could one pass up this creamy, sweet, bitter darkly rich beverage on a day like this when a little sugar and caffeine will go along way?  Freshly brewed espresso poured over a scoop of gelato and served in a glass, it was the perfect jump start for the drive up the volcano and set the tone for the rest of the trip where amazingly good food and drink abounded!

So I got a little craving for it today, and although there are a number of places I could order affogato in New Orleans, I just wanted to make it myself and sip on the sinfully delicious beverage as I typed this blog entry.  But that required a stop at my favorite Italian cafe, Brocato's, because I knew that I had to have my current flavor obsession, their panna cotta gelato.  Kerry wanted to kill me for coming home with not one but two pints of liquid sugar, but how could I pass up the seasonal blood orange ice while I was there?  

Anyway, affogato al cafe (literally drowned coffee) is about as simple as it gets.  Brew a shot or two of good expresso and pour it over a cup of your favorite flavor of gelato.  How little or how much of each you use is entirely up to you and your waistline.  I used a good sized scoop and about a shot and a half of espresso.  I finished it off with a little sprinkling of amaretti cookies and I am just buzzing my way through this entry!