The Gelato Festival takes place all around the world, attracting competing makers in order to win the World Masters award. To punters this is a great day out, to the gelato makers? This is serious stuff. The numbers crunched from their site: An estimated 5,000 gelatos will be served from 36 finalists, over five continents and four years. We’re already two years into competitions, the artisans will keep battling on until 2021, when the finals will be held in Italy. This is an epic, global battle royale.
The concept for today is simple. 16 gelatos. Vote for your favourite at the end. The one with the most votes wins the prestigious World Masters award. The other 15 are taken out back and shot.
Ever noticed how every weekend seems to be the hottest day so far? Today is no exception, perfect summer weather to eat a tonne of quality gelato. I arrive just after 11 and queues have already formed. – There’s a glorious Rossetti poster for signage – and take a quick walk around the place (in the biz I believe that’s called a “location recce“)
When you collect your ticket they give you a ticksheet so you can try every flavour, and you’re free to wonder around the bottega that contains all the servers.
Write your tailor a letter of apology if you’re worried about calories. Today is not the day to count calories. And what do we say the God of Calories? Not Today.
They sign your sheet, scoop up, hand ice cream, thank you. Times that by 16. Everything runs like a well oiled machine, even towards the end of the day chefs are still smiling and talking to the people they serve. We came on the Sunday, and I asked several servers about their yesterday; they were still selling tickets two hours before closing time. Their eyes went wide and looked at me like a retail worker whose been asked what it’s like working during Christmas. It was unbelievably busy. Most of them were thankful for how much calmer and less intense today was. Ahhhh Sunday. Saturday’s cooler, quieter sibling. George Smiley’s Sunday to James Bond’s Saturday.
Lots and lots of queues, but what are you going to do other than get started right away? A cohort shrugged them off – “meh, I’ve been to Disneyland.”
” . . .Can I marry it?” one of my cohorts said. . .”
But what can be said about 16 different types of ice cream? Let’s do this simples:
1 – lemon and basil – a spritely way to start, a tang and a soothe.
2 – douglas fir gelato – the most unique flavour (I loathe the word “unusual” by the way), and tasted like tree. Unsurprisingly.
3 – pannacotta, poached strawberries and balsamic vinegar tasted like a classic summer time dessert, light and soothing to the innards.
4 – hokey pokey – blast of lemon extract, orange blossom, salted caramel crunch ricotta – it’s hard not to notice how long the line is for this one. Clearly a favourite of the day.
5 – tiramisu de nonno – “Can I marry it?” one of my cohorts said.
6 – Matcha, kuromistu & kinako isn’t my favourite, but found it was a great palate cleanser. Neither sweet or too sour. It simply tasted. . . green.
7 – il cremino – like number 3, a great summer desert; fresh milk, hazelnut and hazelnut cream.
8 – mango alfonso – a fruity blast, lovely and very much up my palate’s street.
Worth the Wait?
We clear the first half and have a sit down, or at least that was the plan. Instead, like children that are buzzing, having drank too much lemonade, we twitch, and snap and shake and laugh like loons at the back of a seated area. Good times.
It was difficult not to notice the amount of punters exclaiming out “oh my god!” and the like, clearly people had found one that they agreed with.
Its family friendly stuff, there’s even a few dogs walking around the place, happy to be a part of it. Perhaps someone ought to work on a dog friendly ice cream?
Everything’s perfectly polite and respectable, and barely any litter on the ground. In the background the Festival hosts have a stage where they bring on the makers and persons of the gelato world. A host cheers and whoops up the crowd that booms through the PA. There’s a lively atmosphere.
All the cones are dry and crumbly, and someone walked through each vendor refilling them from a massive bag of them throughout the day. We collect ourselves and discuss flavours and what next to try.
” . . . I’d lick that off a ten dollar whore! . . “
9 – brittle with chocolate and sour cherries – one of the more complex designed ones.
10 – spiced coconut surprise – did what it said on the tin but was no less a treat for it. Would make a good alternative to vanilla.
11 – almond lemon seed cake – tasted slightly bitter and the complex flavours merged together.
12 – pinoli de re – cream with fresh mascarpone cheese topped with toasted caramelised Mediterranean pine nuts and caramel.
13 – lemon with fresh mint and zesty lime ripple – My favourite. Citrus just seems to fit in better in ice cream and gelato over typical sweet flavours like chocolate. So when I get a lemon and lime mix that one of my cohort’s described as “like eating a G&T”. I order a cup instead of a smaller cone, absolutely delicious.
14 – cwstard mwnci – bannan custard – tasted like a sticky dessert, the sort that follows after a roast dinner. It tasted like childhood dreams and innocence.
15 – ammaretto satalo – a classy dessert which would definitely end a dinner party on a highlight.
16 – Moroccan mint tea gelato – flavoured with salt and pepper I had to admit wasn’t to my liking. But others seemed to enjoy it. It also was optionally flavoured with CBD oil. In case you weren’t hungry or something.
We emerge, hours later, fingers sticky and sides aching. Feet and legs going numb. 16 ice creams. 16 queues. Fearing the impeding sugar crash and planning to live off rice crackers for the rest of the week.
Queues were a nuisance but what were you going to do? The tickets worked out a pound each to try 16 unique flavours of delicious gelato. Next time wear some good footwear.
How many queues can you survive in one day? How much gelato can you pack away? Were you in there? Agree? Disagree? Let us know in a comment below!