I wouldn't dream of visiting the vast Central Market in Florence without my friend, Judy Witts, known throughout town as the Divina Cucina. With Judy as my guide, butchers and cheese merchants greet us like given-up-for-lost family members, and everywhere we turn another oversized platter appears, heaped with Tuscan delights: sheep's-milk pecorino, candied fruits spiced with mustard seeds, fresh raspberries dotted with syrupy balsamic vinegar, and, gulp, juicy tripe sandwiches (which I haven't built up the courage to try). And because we're in Italy, it all ends with shots of grappa taken straight from little glass vials, obbligatorio after all that sampling.
This sorbetto is adapted from Judy's recipe. One of her favorite parts is the little chocolate "seeds" it contains. Since watermelons have a lot of water, take the sorbetto out of the freezer long enough ahead of serving to make it scoopable, five to 10 minutes. To pass the time, serve shots of grappa, and if there's any left by serving time, splash some over the sorbetto, too.
*This sorbetto makes excellent watermelon popsicles as pictured. Simply pour the mixture into plastic popsicle molds and freeze until very firm.
In a small, nonreactive saucepan, heat about ½ cup of the watermelon juice with the sugar and salt, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir the sugared syrup into the remaining 2 ½ cups of watermelon juice in a medium bowl. Mix in the lime juice and vodka, if using.
Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last minute of churning, add the mini chocolate chips.