Three ways to win hearts with Massimo’s Spiriti Famosi

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IT’S been a long and arduous road, what with liquor licence applications and lockdown regulations, but Massimo’s Spiriti Famosi liqueurs are finally available, in 500ml bottles, as well as 200ml bottles in a box of three flavours.

“As every family in Italy, we have always done our own limoncello for our clients at the end of dinner. Our version is different than what you could find imported as we use sugar cane spirit,” says Massiomo Orione of Massimo’s in Hout Bay.

Added to the Limone is Arancia – chocolate and orange – and Zenzero, ginger.

“The Arancia is inspired by a liqueur called Bicerin (small glass) from an historical café in Torino, to which we added the orange flavour (and in future we might do a chili version too),” says Orione. “The Zenzero is a bit of a novelty, I was given a bottle (home-made) by a friend during my last visit to Italy and straight away I knew it would be a success.

“We always wanted to make our liqueurs more official, but we were always afraid of the length and costs of obtaining a producer license. We have to thank Simone Musgrave of Musgrave gin who helped us understand the process and put us in touch with the best designer for our labels and packaging.”

The liqueurs are made in dedicated lab on the ground floor of Orione’s house, which helps to keep costs and overheads low. “But it also means you might find me at 10 at night or 6 in the morning mixing, bottling or labelling. I love it, I call it my ‘man cave’,” he laughs.

Spirits are distilled (gin, whisky, vodka etc); liqueurs are sweetened spirits with different flavours. “So technically mine should be called Massimo’s Liquori Famosi… but I like the sound of Spiriti,” he says.

The first one I tried was the Arancia. The leaflet that accompanied the delivery said it’s “divine on ice cream” and I can verify that. Orione says to keep it at room temperature and I found out the hard way that’s because it thickens when it’s chilled and not so easy to pour. It’s also great over any chocolate dessert, like brownies.

The Limone is more zesty than sweet, and can live in the fridge or freezer, as can the Zenzero, which I loved more than I expected. It’s got a long warm finish that brings back memories of ginger biscuits from childhood. Alongside the liqueurs, Massiomo’s has two desserts that can be bought for home.

“The Lemon Bliss has been available for a long time now at Massimo’s. We often find ways to innovate with our existing product so we invented that as a semifreddo dessert which is very popular,” says Orione. “Once we’d started making the ginger liqueur we created another similar kind of semifreddo that expresses the ginger flavours of the liqueur with the addition of home-made crystallised ginger. We call it Not Just Ginger – of course we have the blessing of our Hout Bay resident Ard Matthews. Both desserts are generous and make perfect ‘shares’. They taste even better served with a shot of the same liqueur they contain.”

I don’t know what world Orione is living in, but I found the desserts to be the right size for one. Rich, sure, but not something I’d consider sharing.

“They are all so good and different and we consider them all winners,” says Orione.

For more information, click here. Massimo’s also does a range of frozen pizzas, which you’ll find on the site, as well as a new range of frozen meals like lasagna and melanzane parmigiana.

PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©

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