Revealing my secret today-I have always had a thing for Gelato! To me, it is better than ice cream. It tastes softer, creamier and richer in flavor. Moreover, some of my favorite flavors – pistachio, hazelnut, mango, fig – are more readily available in Gelato, than ice cream.
This quest for Gelato has taken me on a long journey. In 2008, I travelled to Italy, where a large portion of my meal budget was spent on Gelato. On my first evening in Rome, as I was walking past a café, I ordered myself a large scoop of mixed berry gelato. I had to ask the cashier twice when he billed me for 10 Euros (approx $20 at the time). Well, I was hooked right from the first bite. For the next seven days, I substituted breakfast, lunch and many dinners, with chocolate, hazelnut, lemon, strawberry, pistachio, coffee, stracciatella and many more flavors of Gelato.
After I returned home, I searched for all Gelato vendors in Atlanta. I tried the fresh stock at Whole Foods, Alon’s Bakery and Paulo’s. I even ventured into the frozen isles of upscale grocery stores. Not many options available and whatever I did try, it didn’t come close to what I had in Italy. Needless to say, I have been looking for the perfect Gelato in every city I visit.
Spring of 2010, my boss and I were in Tucson, Arizona attending a Human Capital conference. We ate dinner one evening in a local shopping center and decided to have dessert at a Gelato parlor next door. It was packed on a Sunday night and rated highly in the area. During our conversation and my declaration for the love of Gelato, my boss mentioned a place in Hilton Head in South Carolina, called Pino Gelato that he frequently visited. It was next door to his vacation property and he claimed it was one of the best he had tried. I had to find that out for myself!
Next thing I knew, I was talking to the owners of Pino Gelato in Hilton Head, tasting their product, touring their facility and learning about how to purchase a license from them to open a store of my own in Atlanta. The owners, John and Ramona were very passionate about their Gelato and managed their operations hands-on. Even the other license owners I talked to were very happy with their business.
I decided to put the business idea on hold for the time being, but not my love. Once I returned from Hilton Head, I bought an ice-cream machine, a food thermometer, a coffee grinder, several air tight plastic containers and the Ciao Bella recipe book.
Which takes me to my next post on Tips on making homemade Gelato