We all travel for different reasons. Mine? The skin-shedding lightness of stepping out of life with just a small bag; the joy, humour and essential humanity of trying to communicate with no shared language; air so hot and thick as you get off the plane that you have to breathe it differently. And then there¡¯s gelato, I travel for gelato. To join the hubbub of a queue on a small Italian street, wondering why I am queueing, whether I¡¯m in the right queue. The somatic panic of decision-making, the tasting, the deliberating, the anticipation ¨C and the server¡¯s justified frustration ¨C followed by fleeting, voluptuous pleasure. In the face of gelato, frankly, other reasons to visit Italy melt away. Now, though, it is coming to us, in the form of Gelupo Gelato, a new book by Jacob Kenedy of Soho gelateria Gelupo.
Kenedy is also chef-patron of Bocca di Lupo, probably the best Italian restaurant in London, but his first gelato was pre-memory, existing through family lore. ¡®My mother, who is Italian, used to take me for gelato when I was little,¡¯ he says. ¡®Once I apparently fell asleep on the bus with a cone of chocolate in my hand: every time my head lolled forwards, I took a lick.¡¯ Years later, having launched Bocca di Lupo, which was quickly awarded a Bib Gourmand, he confounded expectations by opening a gelateria opposite. It was bonkers ¨C you don¡¯t exactly make your fortune selling one scoop at a time in Soho. But Gelupo has everything a gelateria should: tantalising flavours, including sour cherry and ricotta, and excellent classics such as fior di latte and hazelnut. ¡®When I walk down Archer Street and see everyone milling around, chatting to each other and smiling, for those barriers to come down without alcohol, that is a rare thing and it brings me joy¡¯.
What gelato provides that ice cream doesn¡¯t is the very essence of coffee, the blast-intensity of raspberry at the height of its season, the soothing mildness of milk. ¡®Where ice cream tends to be cream – or custard-based, meaning the ingredients are masked by an added layer of richness, gelato, being milk-based, should deliver the spirit of the ingredient itself: exalted, exaggerated, pure,¡¯ says Kenedy. The magic lies in its texture ¨C velvety and slightly gluey ¨C which comes from combining sugars, enabling it to melt much more slowly than ice cream, lingering on the tongue.
There are other options on UK shores too: The Newt in Somerset has a gelateria on site selling scoops made from the milk of its buffalo herd. Creations at Melt Gelato in Margate include toffee popcorn and vegan tiramisu. In London, Hackney Gelato¡¯s small batches are whipped up by two ex-chefs from Marylebone¡¯s Locanda Locatelli, using top ingredients such as Bronte pistachios for their flavour bombs. I can¡¯t recreate the queues of Italy at home, nor the impatient service and panicky indecision. But the gelato? I¡¯ll have a damn good crack at that.
¡®Gelupo Gelato: A Delectable Palette of Ice Cream Recipes¡¯ by Jacob Kenedy (¡ê14.99, Bloomsbury Publishing) is out now. Illustrations by Marta Andren
THE RECIPE: PISTACHIO GELATO FROM ¡®GELUPO GELATO¡¯
Makes about one litre
For the base bianca (yields 800ml)
130g granulated or caster sugar
40g skimmed-milk powder
2 tbsp starch (arrowroot or cornflour) for the stabiliser
640ml whole milk
40g glucose (or dextrose) syrup or powder, or the same amount of light, runny honey
For the gelato
125g pure pistachio paste
15g caster sugar
1 small pinch of salt
In a bowl, stir the sugar, skimmed-milk powder and stabiliser together thoroughly until combined.
Put the milk and glucose (or runny honey) in a saucepan. Heat gently until barely simmering.
Pour the contents of the bowl into the warm milk mixture in a steady stream, stirring as you go. Continue to stir until it returns to the boil, then remove it from the heat. Cover the pan and leave the base bianca to cool to room or fridge temperature. (It will keep for up to five days in the fridge if allowed to cool then refrigerated immediately.)
Once it¡¯s ready, add in the pistachio paste, sugar and salt.
Churn the mixture in an ice-cream machine until fully firm
Before serving, put the pistachio gelato in the freezer for half an hour to thicken. If it has been stored in the freezer for longer and is too set, allow it to soften in the fridge until scoopable.
THE GELATERIAS: JACOB KENEDY¡¯S ITALIAN HITS
IL GELATAURO, BOLOGNA
¡®This city is the capital of gelato, and just outside in Anzola dell¡¯Emilia are the world¡¯s only university and museum dedicated to the confection. Giovanni Figliomeni, the owner of this shop, taught me all I know. His Kingdom of the Two Sicilies with pistachio and almond is to die for, but the real star is the fruit ¨C he buys it from local organic growers and heightens the taste and texture to levels of nirvana.¡¯ gelatauro.com
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¡®Arguably not the finest gelateria in an artisanal sense, but it is steeped in history, just a couple of streets away from the Pantheon. The more esoteric flavours (walnut, mulberry, caramelised fig) are better than the stalwarts.¡¯ giolitti.it
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¡®It¡¯s right on the lower piazza, beside the sea, and a highlight of every trip I have made to this town. When it¡¯s in season, the wild strawberry is particularly wonderful, and the hazelnut is always good.¡¯ pasticceriafiorelli.it
MASTROCILIEGIA RAGUSA, SICILY
¡®I remember, a long time ago when I was maybe in my teens, tasting a toasted-almond granita here, followed by a mulberry one, and both blew my mind. It is named after the carpenter who found the log that was destined to become Pinocchio.¡¯ +39 333 672 0622
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