Monday, April 15, 2013

Gelato (Italy recap)


I sampled my fair share of gelato while in Italy, despite my resolution to only steal tiny bites of my travel companions'. It's just too good!  If you are wondering what makes gelato different from regular ice cream, the biggest difference is in the method of production. Ice cream is churned with a lot of air and served at a really cold temperature.  Gelato does not have as much air mixed into it, which makes it seem more dense and creamy. Also, it's served at a higher temperature, so it is less icy and more creamy.  (The ratio of ingredients is also a little different - gelato uses more milk and less cream than ice cream).

After one week of voracious gelato-eating, I can say that I've decided on the best shop in Florence… in my opinion anyway. 

Pignoli: Pine nut gelato.  This was pretty great. The version I tasted didn't have a super strong pine nut flavor, so I imagine that they infused the nuts into the dairy.  I'm going to try to make this one at home to see if I can amp up the flavor a bit. 

Ricotta and Fig: Hands down the best gelato I had all week.  The tanginess of the ricotta balanced out the sweetness of the figs perfectly.  Unfortunately I don't think I could replicate this one at home because the texture and flavor of Italian ricotta is really different than ours in America - it tastes a little bit more sour and the consistency is much thicker. 

Gianduja: Chocolate. Hazelnut. Enough said.  I add this in to point out that if you ever see "Gianduja" as opposed to "Nutella" at a gelato place, you should definitely order the former. 

Mascarpone:  This was  crowd favorite, although it didn't top my list.  Mascarpone is a key component in tiramisu; it's actually a soft cheese (like, really soft - almost liquid) with a really mellow taste.  I think this gelato would be perfect to pair with a rich plated dessert.

Nougat:  I ordered this one by accident from a place that didn't have English translations (the lady told me what it was after I ate it). I  think nougat and I imagine the nasty filling inside of a three musketeers bar.  I should have known better after culinary school -- nougat basally means something that is nut based.  In this case, the gelato was filled with bits of a hazelnut praline (almost like a hazelnut brittle). A happy surprise,  indeed! 

Fior de latte: After tasting this a few times, I still had to google it to fully understand what it means ("milk flower").  It's confusing because this is also the name of a type of mozzarella, but in this instance, ti's basically a sweet cream or vanilla flavor. 

Cookies and Cream: I got a kick out of this one, because the "cookies" were little broken bits of biscotti -- not the oreo-inspired flavor I'm used to! It was tasty, but a different texture, as the cantucci added a bit of crisp.

And, just so they don't feel left out, here are some other, more traditional flavors that I sampled: Salted Caramel, Lemon, Raspberry, Coffee, Tiramisu, Coconut.  A gelato a day keeps the doctor away, right?

No comments:

Post a Comment