Friday, September 23, 2011

Here's the Scoop (er, scoops...)

Let’s just be real/state the obvious: gelato is the greatest thing ever. It’s heaven in a rich, smooth, semi-frozen dairy product. And it is impossible to overstate the percentage of time that I thought about, looked for, and ate gelato on my trip to Italy this summer. But before you judge me for consuming such unseemly quantities of dessert on my Italian vacation (which...why would you?), let me just say that this trip was designed to sanction the gorging of ice cream—not only for the practical reason of attempting to stay cool in the sweltering heat of the cities as we traipsed around uneven cobblestone streets, hoofed it around marble floors of museums, and meandered on ancient dirt roads, but also because as a responsible tourist, I felt I had to take it upon myself to find which city in Italy has the best gelato. Here’s the documentation and results of my meticulous research:

Verona—our first gelato of the trip. Amarena (ah-mah-RAY-nah) and bacio (BAH-cho). Named for the famed chocolates from Perugia, bacio is a hazelnut/chocolate combination, and a personal favorite. The gelato in Verona was one of the best of the trip.

Venice—Cookies and nocciola (noh-CHO-lah), which is hazelnut. This was the best gelato of the trip. The fact that we had been walking in the stifling alleys of Venice for what seemed like hours, looking for the Rialto bridge in a maze of corners and canals, might have made even the grossest cold food seem like manna, but I’m pretty certain that this was the creamiest, best-flavored gelato we tasted.

Florence, day 1—Cioccolato (cho-koh-LAH-toh), back-to-the-basic chocolate.

Florence, day 2—Nocciola and stracciatella (strah-cha-TEL-lah), which is like chocolate chip gelato. These were good flavors but the texture was a little more grainy/icy than I would have liked. (P.S. that is a little plastic spoon...and no, I am not stabbing myself in the eye...)

Rome, day 1—Amarena. At Piazza Navona. Perfection.

Rome, day 2—Cookies and nocciola. (Can you tell that my favorite flavors are amarena, nocciola, and cookies?)
Sorrento—Triple chocolate (milk, white, and dark) and Ringo, which is an Italian sandwich cookie.
Capri—Cookies, amarena.

Cheapest—Verona, €1.50 for two scoops
Most expensive—Capri, €3.50 for two scoops
Best single flavor—amarena, which is a creamy ice cream with cherries in it.
Best flavor pairing—“cookies” in Venice. I don’t know how to describe this flavor. It’s yellow and kind of cake batter-ish with bits of chocolately cookies.
Best place to eat gelato—In a piazza, preferably near a fountain, full of people to watch, in the late afternoon shade. (Or, like, anywhere, at any time.)
Also noted—sugar wafer cones are far superior to cake cones, which get soggy too quickly, even for the most ravenous gelato consumer. Gelato in cups is unacceptable.

Although I've been back for a few months now, I am still lamenting America’s inability to produce anything as delicious as Italian gelato. Seriously...yum!

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