The New Soul Food – Gelato?

by Nicki on August 26, 2010

Eat, Pray Love, chronicles one woman’s journey of self discovery, the search for happiness and … the greatest gelato.

OK, perhaps I’m summing up Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling memoir in too few words, but all of us foodies know that the most compelling part of her journey was her four months in Italy indulging in the country’s famous culinary traditions. Pizza and pasta were, of course, on the menu, but allow me to indulge my sweet tooth here.

Gelato is made with much of the same dairy ingredients as traditional ice cream but differs with its lower fat and sugar content (Hallelujah!). The recent movie based on the book, starring Julia Roberts, revisits Gilbert’s journey and returns to Il Gelato Di San Crispino for “The Best Gelato in Rome”.

An institution in its own right, San Crispino’s has become a ‘Mecca’ for Gilbert fans, who make the pilgrimage to retrace her steps, whether they’re gelato enthusiasts or doing a bit of soul searching themselves. Unable to resist the delicious combinations, Gilbert returned to San Crispino’s three times in one day; first trying the honey and hazelnut, next the pink grapefruit and melon and finally ginger-cinnamon.

I must admit the Cocoa and Rum sounds particularly enticing, especially topped off with a bit of Seville Orange.

This gelateria prides itself on using only the very freshest natural ingredients, maintaining purity in the ice cream process. Their Lemon Sorbet uses only the best Amalfi lemons, while the hazelnuts are handpicked from the Langhe region in Piedmont, Italy. The Antofagasta Grape Sorbet features a variety from a desert region in northern Chile, while the Zabione is derived from a virgin Sicilian wine.

A hybrid of mandarin and orange, the fruit for the Clementine Sorbet comes from Sicily, and their Ricotta Soft Ice Cream consists of milk high in omega3, produced at a farm near Siena, Tuscany where the cattle enjoy a special feeding plan. Their signature flavor is Honey Ice Cream, with honey collected from a WWF nature reserve in Sardinia.

Every flavor is made from scratch, and the selections available vary according to what’s in season. San Crispino’s boasts a Mandarin flavor in winter, while the Blackberry Sorbet can be found during the harvest season, running from July into autumn. The Pear Sorbet includes the Williams variety of pear in winter, and switches to the Passagrassana variety in summer.

There are no artificial ingredients or dyes to make your pistachio a fluorescent green, and sorry, but cone connoisseurs are out of luck. The greasing and oil agents found in cones are said to ‘contaminate’ the gelato and fall foul of San Crispino’s purist approach.

This frozen treat dates back to Ancient Rome and the Medici Court in Florence, so try to be as equally dignified as you savor every bite.

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