Producer visits are essential part of importing Italian wine; only then are you able to truly understand the varietal in context. This May we were pampered by both of our Puglian producers: vineyard expeditions, lunches, dinners and private tours. Our stay in Lecce, or the Florence of the South was certainly one of the highlights of our trip.
Being a fan of the traditional Lecesse cream filled pastry Pasticcioto (not to worry the recipe is coming soon), this was high on my list of food musts. Our friend Giovanni, export manager for our producer Produttori Vini Manduria knew just the place. Set right in the center of Baroque Lecce, I was dubious as the quality since the Centro Storico or historic center of any Italian city generally attracts many tourists. Giovanni promptly ordered two pasticiotto accompanied by an iced short coffee drink called Caffe Leccese. Both the Pasticcioti and Caffe Leccese were extraordinary and we returned to the cafe, more times than I would care to admit.
Icy cold espresso with a splash of almond milk – so simple yet absolutely divine, and such a welcome treat in the heat of those Puglian summer days.
Naturally, freshly made almond milk is the obvious first choice, but who has time to do that. Your favorite commercially prepared almond milk is just fine – just select a brand that is unsweetened and unflavored.
This refreshing iced drink couldn’t be more straightforward, espresso, ice and almond milk. An alternative to a splash of almond milk is to prepare almond milk ice cubes. Adding a few of these to a chilled glass followed by a double shot of espresso prevents diluting the coffee flavor of your Caffe Leccese.
Either way, Caffe Leccesse is an absolute delight on a hot summer’s day – you don’t have to be in Puglia to enjoy it. Grazie Giovanni, for sharing the history and traditions of Salento…alla prossima.
- Almond milk ice cubes, prepared with unflavored unweeetened almond milk
- Double shot of freshly made espresso
- 2 chilled tumbler glasses
- Unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
- Sugar or simple syrup if desired
- Prepare the almond milk ice cubes by simply pouring almond milk into ice cube forms and have them available in your freezer.
- Place a few of the ice cubes into the chilled glasses. Pour the espresso over the ice and add a bit or sugar or simple syrup if desired. Pour a tablespoon or two of additional almond milk lightly stir and enjoy
Ciao Chow Linda says
I still haven’t tried almond milk, but I can only imagine how good it must taste with this drink. I await your pasticiotto recipe. They look wonderful.
Thank you Linda, I am refining the recipe. Give Caffe Leccese a try during the next hot spell, I am certain that you will enjoy it.
I have had Lecce on my list forever and hope that we can go on our next trip to Italy. This drink looks so refreshing. I love that you come home and recreate the best of your travels. I would be thrilled to have your Lecce recommendations before we do go.
Lecce is an absolute must for you and I am delighted to provide you with a list of recommended spots there and in the surrounding area. Until then, try the Caffe Leccese at home!
I’m going to have to try this. I do enjoy almond milk very much, but it never occurred to me to add it to espresso. Now that you’ve pointed it out, it’s an appealing idea!
Honestly Frank, I had never heard of this until early May. Naturally, I knew that almond milk drinks were popular in the south, my mom and her brother often enjoyed a variety of these while chatting on the lungomare. Caffe Leccese is quite delightful – but I did miss the pastaccioto.
Actually this recipe is totally incorrect. Caffe Leccese is made with “latte di mandorla”, which is more like an almond extract syrup. It’s not the nut milk we find in American grocery stores.
This won’t give you the almond flavor at all!
Thank you for stopping by to comment Sofia, you are correct however it is the best we can do here in the USA.
David Marchbank says
Agreed Caffe Leccese is so much better with Latte di Mandorla, but I also like a twist of lemon rind too. Latte di Mandorla is not easy to find though – we usually have to import from France to UK
Paula Barbarito-Levitt says
You are absolutely correct, Latte di Mandorla is not the same as Almond Milk in the States or in the UK. I will have to try a twist of lemon rind the next time. Thank you for commenting.
Gill Harris says
I spent last year In lecce. And was introduced to lecce coffee. It was amazing
Anyone going to lecce has to try it. I am now making it at home
Paula Barbarito-Levitt says
It certainly is amazing, and when I am in Lecce there is nothing better than stopping for one.