25 July 2008

So not ice cream!


Summer is in full swing and one of the favorite summer foods of Italians, and tourists, is gelato. Gelato is not ice cream…it is so much better. Gelato is made from milk and sugar and other fresh ingredients to produce specific flavors. This makes a product with as much as 80% less fat and half the calories of ice cream. Until you taste real gelato you don’t know what you have been missing, ice cream is no comparison.

On our first trip to Italy we had gelato and as with so many who have had it pass their lips I fell in love with the bold creamy flavors available. When we went back to Albuquerque we were fortunate that there was a shop in town that made real gelato and we found one or two others in the state in places like Santa Fe and Silver City.

When we have visitors they always want to make sure they get their full share of gelato while they are here, no matter the season. Valerie’s niece was here in November and was known to have a cone as often as twice a day.

My favorite is bacio, made from hazelnuts. I always like cioccolato and I find it makes a good combination with fragola (strawberry). When you order a cone or cup you can choose two or more flavors together depending on the size, I can rarely eat more than a piccolo. Adding toppings other than fresh whipped cream called panna, is a no-no.

In the tourist areas of Italy and especially in the heart of Roma you will find gelateria on every corner with huge mounds of gelato. To experience the best gelato I would recommend staying away from shops with signs for the flavors that show a brand name, they are probably using a mix. Also gelato should not have fluorescent colors, the gelato should be the same color as the fruit; banana fruit is not a bright yellow!

We are fortunate here in Ascoli Piceno to have several good quality shops to choose from including a chocolate shop, Yogi, which makes some of the best gelato I know of. They do not always have gelato available as it is always made with fresh ingredients and if their ingredients are not available they don’t make the gelato.

No trip to Italy is complete without a good portion of gelato…or caffĂ©.


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

We could never resist having a gelato when we had a trip to Italy and Sicily...so mouth watering, and we couldn;t get over the sizes!!!

Barbara said...

Oh Bryan you're so right! There's just NO comparison between gelato and ice cream...gelato wins hands down! The intensity of the flavors is so incredible, and the variety is amazing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the memories!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for introducing me to gelato!!

Anonymous said...

I tried my best to have at least one gelato every day I was in Italy this summer. I missed a few days, only because I was too full from all of the other wonderful food I ate. I don't understand why more places in the US don't adopt the same standards and switch to gelato. Perhaps it is the same problem as making a decent espresso.

Bryan said...

Everyone who tries gelato...loves gelato.

Sis I forgot about having gelato in Litl' Italy in Cleveland! That was good stuff.

The best part is here a small cone with two scoops is between 1.30 and 1.50 euro - try that at B-R!

Kitto said...

What a great post :) I learned something new about gelato, and I've eaten quite a bit of it. In Rome, the best gelato, IMHO, is at San Crispino's -- they have a shop right near Trevi Fountain. However, there are lots of smaller shops and locations throughout that have gelato which is just as good. :)