Real Italian Gelato – A Dream Come True!
A few weeks ago my mother, sisters and I were lucky enough to spend two weeks in Italy. It has always been a dream of my mother to go on a trip with her girls. And duh, Italy on top of the list. Who doesn’t like pasta, wine and gelato? It was my aim to eat a scoop of gelato each day.
Do you know what the difference is between ice cream and gelato?
We’ve all heard of gelato, but who actually knows why and when we call it gelato? well, did you know gelato is the Italian word for ice cream? Although it means the same, it technically is not the same. Same, but different. You following? 😉
Gelato is predominantly made with milk and sugar, and a smaller percentage of cream. Ice cream, on the other hand, is made with a cream and sugar base with a smaller percentage of milk. Ice cream traditionally contains egg yolk, where gelato’s might or might not contain egg yolk.
The other main difference is that gelato base is churned differently than conventional ice cream. It is churned at a much slower rate. Thich means that less air is incorporated in the process, giving it a distinctively dense texture. Ice cream is lighter in the sense that it is more ‘fluffy’ because of the incorporated air, but creamier because of the eggs yolks and cream. Gelato can be described as silky, soft, and very flavour-intense. Gelato is served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream.
- Stracciatella (fior-de-latte gelato with chocolate chunks / shards)
- Amarena Cherries (smaller, slightly sour cherries)
My favourite is pistachio. (pronounce Pi-stuck-kio by Italians)
The Best Gelato Yet….
In the beautiful little town of San Gimignano, in the heart of Tuscany, there is a gelato store called Gelateria Dondoli (also known as the Gelateria di Piazza). It is situated in Piazza della Cisterna and is well known all over the world. The reason for this is because its gelato has been voted the best in Italy a few years ago. They have traditional and also unusual and exciting flavours of gelato.
The master gelato maker is Sergio Dondoli. Some of his first flavours have now become very famous and popular. These flavours include Champelmo ® (pink grapefruit and sparkling wine), Crema di Santa Fina ® (cream with saffron and pine nuts) and Dolceamaro ® (cream with aromatic herbs), to name but a few. His gelato is always made with fresh, high quality ingredients, preferable locally sourced and contains no preservatives. The milk used in Gelateria Dondoli comes from ten cows that the shop has adopted at a farm close to the store. The milk is 100% organic and free from antibiotics.
Sergio Dondoli has won many awards for his gelato making skills and is really a master in this art.
The queue was about 30 meters long when we got there. My mom was there on a very busy day the year before and the queue was about 100 meters long. There were so many flavour options to choose from, but because of their fame, and because most people visiting the town wants a scoop or two, they make sure you don’t take too long to choose a flavour. They don’t allow you to admire the store, or um and ah about the flavours. You get a few seconds to choose a flavour, pay for and only then you can comment on what you have just experienced. It was very crowded inside and the staff were very impatience, but after one bite I completely forgot how flustered I felt.
I had a scoop of Raspberry Baby® (raspberry and rosemary) and a scoop of eggnog. It was delectable, smooth and I if the queue was not so long and our schedule jam-packed, I would have gone back for more. I can really recommend visiting this little Gelateria with a massive reputation.
More Pasta! More Gelato!
One of our tour guides that we spent quite some time with walking along Rome, told us that we should walk as much as possible during our stay in Italy. We should do it for the pasta and the gelato. She said: “More pasta, more gelato!”. That became our motto for the rest of our trip.
I visited many gelato parlours all over Rome, Tuscany, Sorrento and Florence. Some experiences were phenomenal, some were average, but never once did I regret it. After all, you’re only in Italy once. 😉
So, my aim was to eat gelato each day. Did I succeed? Unfortunately not. I think I might have skipped a few days by accident, but I made up for it by eating gelato for breakfast just before my flight back home.