I remember eating this refreshing granita on a very hot day in Rome, sitting in a little caffe in the Piazza del Popolo. It made me forget the heat and the noise and made me want another. The lemon-flavored whipped cream is not essential, rather a gilding of the lily.
For the granita, mix the water, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Pour into a shallow metal pan or 2 metal ice cube trays (without dividers). Stir in the lemon juice and zest. Freeze until ice crystals begin to form, about 2 hours. Whisk with a fork to break up the crystals and return to the freezer. Repeat this process every half hour until the mixture has the consistency of a crunchy slush, 2 to 3 hours.
For the cream, beat all ingredients together until soft peaks form. Serve the granita garnished with the whipped cream.
© 1998 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.