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Category Archives: gelato

LA Gelato for Real!

As promised, I did use my next visit to Los Angeles to form my own opinion of the Gelato Bar on Hillhurst, in Hollywood/Los Feliz. Less than an hour ago, in fact, so I’m posting while all of my impressions are fresh (for a change).

Dawn did not exaggerate.

This is easily the best gelato I’ve tasted outside of Italy and rivals most of the gelato I tasted INSIDE Italy. This gelateria is owned by a third generation Italian gelato maker, and it shows. Okay, it’s a little pricey, but compared to a plane ticket to Florence, it’s one heck of a bargain!

They take pride in both the freshness of their ingredients and the proportion of fresh fruit or other natural flavorings in each variety they offer. They make about 70 different flavors and rotate them, offering a couple dozen at a time–though a few favorites are always available. Next time I’m in LA (this is a fairly short visit, alas) I plan to make a point of going back and trying some different selections.

For this visit, I went with the Cioccolato Sorbetto and the Menta, while Dawn chose the Olio d’Olivia and the Blueberry-Pomegranate Sorbetto. Before ordering, we tasted both the Cioccolato and the O d’O–partly because I was skeptical about both. Chocolate Sorbet? Really? Oh, yes. Really. I was expecting ice crystals, but no. Very smooth and creamy and INTENSELY chocolate. I asked and was told it’s made with water instead of milk (hence, sorbetto–and which means someone lactose intolerant would be fine with it) and with 70% cocoa. This chocolate may just beat out Il Grand Duca in Florence for richness. The Olio d’Olivia was described as “sweet cream and olive oil,” which sounded…unlikely. But it was delicious, with just a hint of rich olive oil taste. Since we were told it paired well with the fruit flavors, that’s what we did.

Blueberry-Pomegranate sounded like such a winner we ordered it without tasting first and were not disappointed in the least–and it did indeed pair excellently with the O d’O. Mint is always a fave of mine and went divinely with the rich, dark chocolate. (Ooh, and they also put in lovely cookie sticks with fudge drizzled inside. I recommend using it as a spoon until it’s gone.)

If I ever said (as I might have) that you just can’t get authentic Italian gelato in the States, I take it back. The Gelato Bar is superb and well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Los Angeles. Kudos!

 

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Blogging by proxy?

I haven’t been anywhere blog-worth lately, but my daughter Dawn discovered a wonderful gelateria today in Los Angeles. I can’t wait to visit and try it for myself! But in the meantime, she wrote a very nice review:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/gelato-bar-los-angeles-2

(In case anyone else posts one later, hers is the one by Dawn B.)

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2010 in chocolate, gelato, ice cream, los angeles

 

Gelato on the high seas

Bethany and I just got back from a lovely seven night cruise aboard the Celebrity Solstice. Among other delights (like fabulous food All Day Long and dancing into the wee hours) we discovered a real, honest-to-goodness gelateria aboard the ship! Of course, we couldn’t ignore such a  wonderful research opportunity, so we sampled the chocolate and the raspberry and discovered (cue angelic choir) that it was every bit as good as most Italian gelato we’ve tried! Okay, maybe not QUITE up to Florentine standards, but really, really excellent.

So, if the prospect of relaxing aboard a gorgeous ship in the balmy Caribbean and being served sumptuous meals every day, combined with way cool shore excursions like ziplining through the Puerto Rican rain forest and snorkeling off a sailboat in St. Thomas doesn’t tempt you, this exquisite gelato definitely should! The worst thing about a cruise?

It ends.

Can’t wait to do it again sometime!

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2010 in caribbean, chocolate, food, gelato, ice cream, travel

 

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Ice cream in Japan

After a week in Japan, touring Tokyo and Kyoto, I think we can definitively say that Japan has many wonderful things–kai ten sushi, karaoke, Buddhist temples that are over 1000 years old–but ice cream isn’t its strongest suit.

We started tasting in Kyoto with some Sakura (cherry blossom) and matcha (green tea) hand-dipped ice cream near the Kiyomizu-dera temple. Nice, but nothing to write home about. A day later we tried another place nearby (we were staying at a bed & breakfast near that temple) and it was better. The black beans and mochi are an interesting addition. I liked it better than Bethany did. (I’m not naming these places because the names were in kanji and even Dawn couldn’t tell me what it meant–sorry!)

After seeing lots and lots of soft-serve places, we finally decided we’d better try that, since that seemed to be more of a specialty. And yes, that was quite good! If you go, do try the soft-serve.  The place we tried in Uji (a short train ride from Kyoto) was particularly good. Uji is famous for its green tea, and the matcha-flavored soft-serve was excellent.

We only ran across one place that advertised gelato, the coffee shop at the top of the government building in Shinjuku (in Tokyo). Fabulous 360 degree views, but the gelato? Um, let’s just say the strawberry cake was much better. Ice crystals and not a lot of chocolate flavor.

In summary, if you visit Japan, make sure to visit a kai-ten sushi place. That’s where little plates of sushi travel all around the restaurant on a long conveyor belt. You sit on a stool and snag whatever strikes your fancy, then pay at the end according to the plates you’ve accumulated. Fun, inexpensive and very tasty!  And do try Japanese karaoke if you’re with a group. Unlike American karaoke, you and your friends get a private little room and only embarrass yourselves in front of each other, instead of a room full of strangers. Tip: Nomi Houdai means “all you can drink.”

And if you get to Uji, try the matcha soft-serve ice cream!

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2008 in food, gelato, ice cream, japan, travel

 

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Gelato in Indiana!

Yes, it’s true!  We heard about it a little while ago, but scarcely dared to believe it.  Finally, this weekend, we drove up to Clay Terrace in Carmel to check out Gelato Da Vinci ourselves.  And it’s twoo, it’s twoo!  Perhaps not up to Florentine standards, but perfectly passable gelato, right here in Indiana. How exciting is that?

We had to try the chocolate, of course, as that’s our standard. Not the best we’ve had, of course, but not the worst, either (and this is compared to gelato around Italy, so “not the worst” is actually pretty high praise). We also tried the rose (not as intense as Fenoccio’s, but not bad at all), the “love affair” (Tia Maria and coconut) and the “Italian kiss” (bacio, which is basically nutella). But the standout was the creme brulee. Excellent! Definitely a flavor to go back for.

Afterward, we tried a scoop of the blueberry sorbet, mostly out of curiousity, and it was okay, but if I hadn’t seen the sign, I might have guessed it was raspberry.

Clearly we’ll need to go back for further research–though if anyone knows of any other gelaterias in Indiana, please share!

–Brenda 🙂

 
 

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Research update

Beth here.

I’ve been working hard to meet my ice cream quota despite the cold weather and have a few things to relate. First off, store-bought ice-cream is usually a last resort, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Secondly, if you’re going to go store-bought, the little containers are usually your best bet. These ratings are based on a scale of store-bought ice cream–if we were comparing this stuff to gelato (say, Il Grand Duca in Florence being a five), none of these would rate over a two…

Test #1: Dove ice cream.
Rating: Three stars.
The best part is that there’s a layer of solid chocolate over the top of the ice cream that you have to hack through with a spoon. Now this could be seen as a detriment if you’re really desperate to get to the ice cream… but the chocolate (particularly the dark chocolate, in my opinion… but we all know I’m biased) is quite good. The ice cream is not bad either, for store bought. I tried the raspberry chocolate flavor and was pretty happy while it lasted.

Test #2: Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
Rating: Four stars.
The best store-bought ice cream I’ve found so far. Not quite as good as the ice cream you’ll get made fresh at a Ben & Jerry’s store, but close. Very creamy, awesome flavors. In the past two weeks I’ve had a pint of Phish Food (always a favorite… VERY chocolatey, and excellent for putting you in a better mood) and the Dublin Mudslide (Irish Cream flavored with swirls of fudge–also quite nice). More to follow…

Test #3: Homemade Ice Cream
Rating: Three stars
Despite the oxymoronic name, pretty good ice cream. The mint chocolate chip is among the best (for that flavor) of any store-bought brands, and I just finished a carton of the Turtle Sundae… I don’t know if it was a mixing error in my carton, or what, but ALL of the caramel was at the very top, so you kind of had to dig through it to get to the ice cream… which was actually kind of awesome–made it more like a sundae.

I’m gonna go out and get some Hagen Daas (though from previous experience I know it’s decent but nowhere near as good as when you get it fresh from an ice cream stand in Germany…) and do some more research. Anybody have suggestions for other brands I should try?

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2008 in chocolate, food, gelato, ice cream, travel, Uncategorized

 

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Beach Party

Beth here.

It’s really cold in Indiana right now, which makes me very sad. I am still soldiering on and eating copious amounts of ice cream, but I feel slightly (only slightly) silly standing outside of Bruster’s in 5 degree (F) weather ordering a frozen, creamy, dreamy concoction while jumping up and down repeatedly to make sure that I don’t freeze to death.

But never mind the cold! We decided to thumb our noses at the frosty heavens, crank the heat up, and have a beach party this weekend. With piña coladas, mojitos, and painkillers galore, we took decadence to a new, Caribbean high. Just the sight of my dad in bermuda shorts, a crazy tropical print shirt and goofy sun hat was enough to get me laughing hard enough that frozen rum drink came out my nose–which made me forget all about the winter blues. With the help of Annette Funicello (who, it turns out, canNOT sing), Frankie Avalon, and the rest of the gang, we were able to escape the bleak Indiana winter for the brief respite of one evening of magic. Magic that will (hopefully) buoy our spirits until it stops being so freaking cold.

P.S. Where can I get a fringe dress?

 

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