Triumphant Return of the Quest for Gelato Perfection

This was opportunity gelato, plain and simple, as in my boyfriend and I were picking up a birthday cake in a quaint little bakery somewhere in the heart of Bellingham when I noticed there was a chocolate and gelato shop next door. Had it not been for proximity, no gelato would’ve been consumed.  I should know better than to be tempted by a store that sells two completely different products. One of them is bound to be inferior. Though I can’t say for certain that the chocolate was any better, I can say the gelato left a lot to be desired.

Where: Chocolate Necessities & Gelato, Bellingham, WA

What I Had: Cherry Mania and Mascarpone

What Stood Out: I have no idea what is going on with me this year. I have never in my life been so tempted by cherry-flavoured anything, and now it appears to be my flavour of choice.  This was NOT my best cherry flavour experience.

The picture says it all. Disappointing. Texturally off.  Sigh.

Here’s the skinny:

The Mascarpone ice cream had good flavour, with more of a distinct mild cheesiness than I’ve had in many similar flavours. The Cherry Mania was indeed cherry-like, but completely unbalanced (i.e. way too sweet, and that’s saying a lot for a sugar fiend like me!). This is the most positive feedback that I have.

In general, the “gelato” had way too many icy crystals to be considered true gelato. I couldn’t tell whether it was just ice cream, or whether it was stored at an improper temperature. The glass case housing the gelato had a great deal of condensation on it, so much so that I had to bend down and crane my neck to even read the names of the flavours in the back row. On top of that, the gelato broke my spoon. Now, I may be an aggressive consumer of sweets at the best of times, but even in my most enraptured gelato eating moments I’ve never broken the spoon.

I should learn that when gelato doesn’t look fantastic in the case, it’s probably not going to taste much better, but I feared that if I didn’t seize the opportunity I would never get back to my quest for gelato perfection. I’m sure you can tell this stop on my gelato journey was far from perfection. In fact, I feel certain that the Orange gelato, which looked heinous in colour and even stranger in texture, and which appeared to be puking itself out of its metal bin, was actually attempting to escape its fate as mediocre gelato.  Having experienced the gelato, I completely understand its plight.

ps. However, if you want a wonderful carrot cake, do visit Pure Bliss Desserts directly next door. I still regret not buying a salted caramel cupcake in lieu of the gelato.

Advertisements

Mid-Week Tangent: the quest for gelato perfection begins

I still dream of Italian gelato on the regular. I have zero regrets for eating up to three a day while on vacation last year. In fact, I regret not having eaten more of it. Since then, gelato has been notably absent from my life. Sure, on the odd occasion, I’ll buy a store-bought brand but, let’s be honest, there’s rarely a discernible difference between store-bought gelato and ice cream.  In my heart, I long to find the perfect gelato a little bit closer to home.

This weekend I tasted some damn good gelato, which got me wondering if I am missing out on all sorts of hidden gelato gems in and around this city.  And so, I’ve decided that I will boldly dedicate my summer to finding great gelato here, in and around Vancouver. Okay, I’m not actually going to devote my entire summer. My waistline certainly doesn’t need that, plus I’ll eventually be working again. It’s more like if I see a gelato place, I am going to try it. That’s half-assed dedication at its best!  Along the way, I will document the good, the bad and the ugly.

Today I’ll start with the best find I’ve found so far. Granted, I’ve eaten minimal gelato so far in the city. I used to live by Mario’s Gelati so I went there on occasion. Despite what many others think about it, I don’t like their gelato (gasp!). I find its texture to be quite grainy with ice crystals when what I want is silky creaminess. I blame mass production. I’ve also gone to the locally famed La Casa Gelato, which now boasts 238 flavours. I haven’t been in at least a decade, at which time they had a paltry 120 flavours I think, but I remember not being blown away and thinking their fame had more to do with quantity and gimmicky flavours (wasabi gelato? really?) than quality.  But there are so many more places to taste. And taste I shall.

As I mentioned, this weekend I found some brilliant gelato. It had all the hallmarks I personally look for: intensely creamy, boldly flavoured, interesting flavour selection, and made on the premises.

It looked better before I ate half of it and before it started to melt in the sun. What you can gather from this picture is that I lack the self control to wait even 30 seconds before starting to devour gelato. Truth.

Where: Dolce Gelato, White Rock

What I Had: A firm believer in never having just one flavour, I opted for Foresta Nera (vanilla with chocolate, nuts and booze-soaked cherries) and Meringa (heavenly meringue gelato, with massive meringue shards and chocolate).

What stood out:  Oh my god, I could have eaten those meringue pieces forever. I have no idea how they stay crisp in a sea of dairy, but they do and it is wonderful. The cherries in the foresta nera were heavenly as well, incredibly flavourful. I shouldn’t have to say things like ‘they tasted like real cherries’, but most cherries in ice cream bear little resemblance to real fruit so I will explicitly proclaim that these tasted like legit cherries!!!!  I had a hard time selecting flavours here as there were so many that looked unique and delicious.  In particular, I’m sad that I didn’t get to try the Casatta (candied orange peel, nuts, chocolate and orange liqueur) because it looked amazing and like something I would have seen in Italy.  I opted against it because candied orange usually isn’t my jam, but in hindsight I think I may have missed out on something different and delightful.  In other words, I will return and I will devour more flavours.

Until next time, here’s hoping you find a place to get your gelato on.*

*and if you know of a place in my general ‘hood, please send me recommendations!

Mid-Week Tangent: Disney Treat Fail

As you may know from Monday’s post, I spent a few days in Disney World (aka the dark side) last week. Normally, one of my favourite things about Disney parks is the opportunity to jam countless treats into my face. There are so many deliciously different ways to dramatically exceed your daily recommended caloric intake. Despite this, I completely failed to take advantage of the multitude of sinful options at my fingertips and I am already deeply regretful. I managed only one Mickey Mouse pretzel and about eight white chocolate chip cookies. That may sound like a big accomplishment, but it is such a minuscule representation of what was available. Sigh. What was I thinking?

And so, in honour of my failure and perhaps to serve as a motivator for you to take full advantage of any of your future Disney adventures, I present to you a list of all the things that I did not eat but sorely wish that I had:

1. About five more Mickey Mouse pretzels: Let’s face it, one pretzel is not enough, particularly when accompanied by the completely-wrong-yet-somehow-oh-so-right artificial cheese dip. I am the person who uses the entire container of cheese dip and wishes she had more (as opposed to my boyfriend, who barely makes a dent in his, a feat that I cannot at all comprehend but which greatly benefits me as I get his extras). Though the Mickey Mouse pretzels are nowhere near as good as most soft pretzels I’ve consumed virtually anywhere else, they do somehow taste more magical. I fully regret not consuming them daily.

2. Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Sandwiches: These are just Oreo ice cream cookie sandwiches, something that I can buy on any given day in my local grocery store. Still, they somehow taste better and more magical in the parks. It has been years since I’ve had one. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t have one. If you read Monday’s post, you know that it was what can only be described as f’ing cold the entire time we were in the parks. I wish that I were the person who could put aside being cold for long enough to eat ice cream, but I’m usually not. I was uncomfortably cold and made the (foolish and wrong, in hindsight) decision to forego ice cream in favour of warmth. Rookie mistake.

3. Churros: Unlike ice cream, churros are warm and comforting on a cold day. I have no idea why I did not consume a single churro, except that I was under some misguided notion that I should be hungry in order to snack. I have no idea why I sometimes stick to such ridiculous principles. I am ashamed of myself.

4. Dole Whip: Who doesn’t love a good Dole Whip? The answer to that question can only be someone whose soul is dead. It is a miraculous feat of food engineering. How else can you explain a product that is largely the result of food thickeners and a slew of artificial ingredients that is, surprisingly, low in actual pineapple? Still, it is delicious. Similar to my Mickey Mouse ice cream cookie sandwich rationale, it was simply too cold for me to contemplate such a treat. Now that I am back in Vancouver, where it is not only cold but also rainy and grey, I can truly see the error of my ways. At least in Florida it was sunny and there was the illusion of warmth. I can barely forgive myself for this oversight.

5. Frozen Banana: I know, I know, no one really likes the frozen banana. It’s frozen fruit on a stick. It has a paper-thin simulated chocolate shellac that gives you the false impression you’re indulging when you are actually not. They are quite repugnant. I wanted to eat one only to pay homage to Arrested Development (“there’s always money in the banana stand”). Also, see rationale for numbers 2 and 4 (i.e. it was freaking cold).

6. Daily Cupcake: I have no interest in commercially produced cupcakes, whatsoever. They are always a let-down. The cake is almost always either dry, flavourless, spongey or some combination thereof. Frosting, however, is single-handedly worth the cupcake investment. I am only somewhat ashamed to admit that I have been known to eat just the frosting, sometimes accompanied by a tiny portion of the cupcake if only to stave off social judgements. I saw countless cupcakes crowned with an ice cream scoop sized mound of frosting and yet, somehow, I showed uncharacteristic restraint by never ordering one. Similar to the churro rationale, my cupcake fail was largely due to feeling as though I should be hungry in order to eat one.  As a result of my poor decision making, I have no choice but to delude myself into believing that the frosting was likely wretched shortening-based frosting instead of a true buttercream.  But even I know I am just lying to myself.

7. Ice cream cookie sandwich from Scoops in Hollywood Studios: Ever since I had the dreamiest and most insanely delicious ice cream cookie sandwich at Hello Robin in Seattle, I have been on the hunt for more. When I was forced to stand in a ride line behind a girl eating a Scoops ice cream cookie sandwich for the better part of 45 minutes, my poor boyfriend had to listen to me go on and on about how I was going to get one as soon as humanly possible. And yet I did not. Ever. I have no good excuse for my failure here, and instead offer up two piss-poor ones: I assumed the ice cream wouldn’t be as delicious as the ice cream at Hello Robin (which turned out to be true as I did try Scoops ice cream sans cookie) and I feared my boyfriend would silently judge me for eating an ungodly thick layer of ice cream wedged between two giant cookies as a mid-day snack. He claims he wouldn’t have, but I could see the look of incredulity, or perhaps even mild repulsion, in his eyes when I first suggested it.

Do yourself a favour and do not follow my lead in eating your way through Disney Parks. Instead of returning full of magic and sugar and a few extra pounds, I have returned full only of my own regret. No one should have to live in regret, so please go forth and eat all of the things.