Since it’s summer my thoughts are turning to warm weather desserts. Well, if the truth be told, I think about summer treats even in the heart of the winter, but this is an especially good time to pay attention to one of my favorite desserts – Gelato.
Unlike its American cousin, Ice Cream, Gelato is typically made with milk instead of cream and is denser since less air is incorporated into it. This explains why Gelato seems to be more intensely flavored than Ice Cream.
So what’s happening in the world of Gelato? Well as you’ll see below, some mighty interesting flavors abound. And some hard-core Gelato fans are enjoying their frozen desserts even in colder weather.
Manhattan-based il Laboratorio del Gelato boasts over 200 flavors, some quite exotic, but owner Jon Snyder said the classics – Vanilla, Dark Chocolate, Salted Caramel, and Espresso – are the most popular. Jon brought up a very interesting point about the seasonality of Gelato. When you’re buying a cup of Gelato to eat on the street, seasonality is certainly a factor. But when you’re enjoying a dessert of Gelato at a restaurant, it doesn’t matter as much if it’s cold outside. il Laboratorio del Gelato’s primary business is wholesale, with sales to restaurants and gourmet stores. Jon thinks the key tend is the production of small batch /artisanal Gelato. And he was one of the pioneers of the artisanal Gelato trend. In the early 1980’s he started the Gelato company, Ciao Bella, which he sold in 1989.
Angela Ratliff and Debbie Brackett, of Jersey City-based Gia Gelato, report that some current and trending Gelato flavors include German Chocolate Stout (German Chocolate Cake with German Stout Beer); Mexican Chocolate Chipotle; French Chocolate and Brandy; and Banana Praline. And they note “Maple Bacon was last year’s rave, but it’s still trending this year.” While Gia Gelato’s customers enjoy Gelato year round, this is the high season.
Dolce Geletaria, based in Manhattan, offers special flavors in different seasons and Dolce’s Salvatore Potestio believes Gelato demand is seasonal.
You can find Gorgeous Gelato, some 300 miles away from Manhattan, in Portland, Maine. Donato Giovine, the proprietor of Gorgeous Gelato, remarked that the most popular flavors are Gorgeous (vanilla base with chocolate and caramel), Dark Chocolate, and Oreo. As an Affogato fan myself, I couldn’t agree more with Donato when he said Affogatos are underrated. An Affogato is a delicious combination of espresso and Gelato, usually vanilla.
Chicago-based Black Dog Gelato must have adventurous customers as its signature flavor is Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel. Black Dog’s Reeny Hofrichter said that other popular flavors include. Vanilla Sea Salt Caramel, Oreo Mint, Mexican Hot Chocolate (with cayenne and cinnamon), Sesame Fig Chocolate Chip, and Strawberry Balsamic.
Marco D’Ambrosio of D’Ambrosio Gelato, in Seattle, believes Gelato is becoming more popular in this country because it is perceived as a healthier dessert – has less fat than ice cream. And Marco also thinks Gelato is benefitting from the focus on the quality of desserts (or any food), instead of on the quantity. Which is D’ Ambrosio’s most popular Gelato flavor? A traditional Pistachio, made with Sicilian pistachios.
The most popular flavor for Seattle’s Gelatiamo, is Chocolate, followed by Coconut. Maria Coassin, Founder and Owner of Gelatiamo, also believes Gelato is becoming more popular in this country. However, Maria wishes that all Geletarias would make Gelato the right way, instead of taking shortcuts, resulting in sub-par products.
As its name implies, you can find Bottega Italiana Seattle in Seattle. Bottega Italiana’s Tiernan Gillan has been working with Gelato ingredients such as herbs, bee pollen, and foraged finds for the last several years. Tiernan has also been creating spirit and beer-inspired flavors without the use of alcohol, which is the real challenge. And the most popular flavors? Sea Salt Caramel with Chocolate, Stracciatella (Chocolate Chip), Strawberry-Basil, Pistachio, Hazelnut, and Chocolate.
And as July 19th is National Ice Cream Day, Happy National Ice Cream Day, all!