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Espresso, Shaken Not Stirred

September 04, 2002|DAVID SHAW | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SIENA, Italy — Italians take their coffee very seriously, and, in years past, a tourist's request for iced coffee--caffe freddo, con ghiaccio--has often been met with glares of either disdain or incomprehension.

No longer. Not in Tuscany, anyway. Except it's not called caffe freddo, and it's not limited to tourists. It's called a shakerato, and it seems to be all the rage in the bars of Tuscany this summer--the ideal drink on a sweltering afternoon.

You walk into a bar and ask for a shakerato (shake-er-ah-toe), and the man or woman behind the counter makes a regular espresso. Then he or she drops four or five ice cubes in a cocktail shaker, adds a teaspoon of sugar--or more, or less, or none at all, depending on your preference--puts the top on the shaker and shakes it vigorously.

The shaking action creates a great deal of foam, so when the shakerato (ice and all) is poured into a glass--an elegant martini glass in some bars, a simple water glass in others--it's topped by an enormous, frothy head.

It's a delicious, refreshing drink, and, best of all, it's as easy to make at home as ... well, iced coffee. If you want, you can even add a bit of milk before you shake. And when you drink it, you can pretend you're sitting in a piazza in a small Tuscan village.

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