08 Jul2006

Gelati, Florence

by Marketman

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Ice creams and gelati/helados are not interchangeable terms. Confused? Yes, so was I, until recently. Although I have gel2always recognized the textural and flavor differences between the two, I always assumed that the Italian gelati were just creamier and more flavorful. I kind of guessed air content was substantially higher in commercial ice creams but that was the extent of my curiosity about the matter. However, this recent trip through Barcelona, Florence and Rome piqued my interest as we encountered spectacular helado, after helado before gelato and more stunning gelato!!! I kid you not, we must have ordered at least 100 scoops of helado/gelato in a three week period! In New York, last year, I ran into my favorite Il Laboratorio del Gelato at the Museum of Modern Art and wrote it up in a post, here. But even I seemed to use the terms ice cream and gelato interchangeably then. Boy, was I ill-informed…

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Ice creams run the gamut from highly commercial supermarket brands such as Nestle to premium brands such as Haagen Daz. Ice creams should contain a phenomenal amount of gel4butterfat ranging up to say 30% for the finest brands, though I suspect local Philippine ice creams are at the lowest range of say 10-12% butterfat. The butterfat comes from the cream used. Ice creams also have a lot of air mixed in…up to 50% air for supermarket brands in the U.S. and again, I suspect, up to 60% or more air for Philippine grocery brands. The air gets trapped in the cream and when frozen, allows it to seem bulky but when you eat it, the ice cream literally vaporizes in your mouth and it feels really “airy.” Frankly, I detest airy ice cream. Not to mention ice cream with additives, stabilizers and preservatives. I have made ice cream from scratch at home, with an old-fashioned “churner,” and it isn’t that hard to do, so it’s disappointing when commercial versions are just so, well, commercial.

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Gelatos or helados, on the other hand, usually have very little or no cream. They are mostly made with whole milk instead, resulting in a butterfat gel6content of 8% or less. What?! We were eating gelato like crazy and it’s the cooled milk/cream equivalent of diet ice cream??? Yahoo! What makes it even more distinctive is a whole lot more egg yolks (hence denseness and “richness”) and almost no added air…or at least a lot less air than traditional ice creams. Also, it isn’t frozen to that rock hard stage and is often kept just below freezing so it is softer and more supple when you eat it. It also looks more appealing when displayed in huge mountains of gelato at the gelaterias… Another factor that makes it so incredibly good is the intensity of flavor…I think they just use better flavor bases and more of it relative to the milk! I mean chocolate is really chocolate… Besides the gelati, the sorbets in Italy were also incredibly intense…raspberry, blackberry and even mango sorbets were superb! Apparently, the key to really good sorbets is much more creamed fresh fruit, less water and good sugar and some lemon to brighten all the flavors!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Wilson Cariaga says:

    wow, so that is the diffrence of gelato and ice cream. . . so which one has longer storage?? hmmm?? i haven’t really tried gelato but i had this ice cream type i ordered in some italian resto that is shaped like a pyramyd, the base flavor is figs and it has pistachio nuts. . . yummy actually. . .

    Jul 8, 2006 | 6:40 pm

     
  2. Mandy says:

    MM, when i used to live in cebu in 1998-99, there was this italian gelateria (with real italians running it) and they served gelato like we’d they would in italy. making it look like an egg sunny side up, a “lasagna” and ‘spaghetti & meatball” gelato, and so much more. i have no idea if it still exists up to now. i think the owners are also the one running the italian resto also along punta osmena (where i had super incredible tasting octopus), pero on the other side of the overpass/rotonda. (sorry i’m confused, havent been there for ages). i miss that gelateria…

    Jul 8, 2006 | 7:06 pm

     
  3. ShoppaHolique says:

    Mandy, would that be giusseppe’s? I haven’t been there, but it’s pretty popular in Cebu…

    Jul 9, 2006 | 12:19 am

     
  4. Candsmd says:

    What do you think of our local gelato? There was a stall at the old greenbelt 3 food court that served gelato. I just can’t remember the name…

    Jul 9, 2006 | 8:33 am

     
  5. SimplePleasure says:

    hmmm…they all look so wonderful! very colorfull and looks so smooth and silky! yummy…

    Jul 9, 2006 | 2:14 pm

     
  6. honey says:

    may be i should try the gelato at bellini’s next time i go there

    Jul 9, 2006 | 2:41 pm

     
  7. Lei says:

    My hubby and I have bought from Fiorgelato every now and then and we have always noticed the difference of their ‘ice cream’ from the very first time we tasted it. So now I know that there is really a distinction, in fact the term ‘ice cream’ is no longer applicable. Wow, thanks for the info MM. Btw, have you tried it, there are a couple of stalls in SM malls, and I was just wondering if this is the real gelato stuff or if they have tweaked it to local taste, like a little bit more air?

    Jul 10, 2006 | 8:35 am

     
  8. Meg says:

    so far the best gelato to be tasted here in the metro manila area is the one made by the italian priests at Amiche (don bosco makati), they also sell it by the scoop at the pricesmart outlet at pasong tamo…now i would have to get a few scoops from them just to sort of replicate MM’s gelato experience in Florence :)

    Jul 10, 2006 | 8:39 am

     
  9. Marketman says:

    Lei, I’m not sure if I have had Fiorgelato or not… but I have had Amici’s and its not bad though I think anyone who make gelato here must have problems finding good whole milk…preferably non-UHT or zapped milk. I have also had Pazzo gelato at the basement of rockwell and it is okay but not great. There was also an Italian restaurant on Reposo that had decent gelato…

    Jul 10, 2006 | 8:49 am

     
  10. linda says:

    Where we live here in Oz,we live amongst the Italian community and we have 5 gelaterias all within walking distance from our home. As we go for our daily walks, we walk through olive trees,orange,mandarin,cumquat and lemon trees, ,persimmon trees,backyards with tomato plants,beans,grapevines,etc. Recently,a panetonne shop opened and we have a ravioli/pasta factory close to us and lots of Italian delis around our area.We are blessed with a mediterrean climate – it’s like almost living in Italy.

    Early morning today, horns were blaring and backyard firecrackers were set off as Italy won the world cup. I’m glad that it’s all over as we have spent many sleepless nights/early mornings watching the world cup this past month.

    I still wish that the socceroos made it to the top,but,considering that they came from number 42 to the top 16 is a great achievement and we’re proud of them!

    Congratulatios Azzuri! And hello MM!

    Jul 10, 2006 | 11:45 am

     
  11. stef says:

    ah, serious gelato. the #1 thing i miss about italy.

    Jul 10, 2006 | 9:30 pm

     
  12. Lei says:

    Thanks MM for the info on where we can go look for some decent gelato, same goes for the guys who provided info!!! Time and time again, I really appreciate all the very helpful and practicable tips that I get here. =) Good day!

    Jul 11, 2006 | 8:19 am

     
 

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