I was extremely excited when I heard about a “gelato for dinner” chefs event as part of Biennial Enogastronomica Fiorentina and Florence Culture and Heritage Week. If you have been following my blog regularly, you would know that I am the biggest lover of gelato in the world! Even though the event was sold out weeks in advance, my friend and fellow blogger, Hasan Niyazi and I managed to get two spots as we guests of Florens2012. The event was organized by Chef Luca Cai of the restaurant “The Warehouse” and the Gelato Association. The event was held at the beautiful historic building of Piazza San Firenze, which was originally a church, then courthouse and now used for public events.
The idea was to create an entire dinner experience using gelato in every course, to use ice cream beyond the normal size consumption. The chefs tested their limits on creativity and let the extent of gelato-food pairing run wild. The chefs presented us with a 5 course sweet and savory gelato dinner, with endless champagne to wash down the unusual combinations.
The first course was olive oil gelato with vegetables for dipping. This was actually quite good, especially for a summer day. You can eat a cold gelato instead of a cream cheese or ranch dip, with fresh salad of carrots, celery, tomatoes and raddish.
The next course was tartine of fig gelato and salami. The gelato was actually quite good. Italy is known for fresh cut dried meats, such as salami, prosciutto, cured ham, so it is usually served with aperitifs.
Then came a trio of crostini – bite size toasts with spread of peanut butter gelato, tomatoes and basil gelato, and a cream cheese gelato. Again, all the gelato itself very well prepared even though not your traditional flavors. It was a little too cold for me to eat over a crunchy toast, but I licked the gelato off the bread.
Little did we realize, we were just getting started on the “creative” aspect of this meal. Next came a liver meatball with hazelnut crust served with pecorino gelato; steamed salad shrimp with ginger gelato; sliced beef with pesto gelato; a stuffed chicken neck with lime gelato, and the list goes on. Not only were the gelato flavors unique, the pairing items were quite new to me as well. The individual components of the dish were good on their own, but together they just didn’t make sense. Also, the presentation of the dishes did not seem to incorporate the sweet and the salty into one cohesive bite.
Hasan and I thought the whole concept was innovative, but a little too bizarre for us. His conclusion of the evening was “Bizzaro Gelato” hence the title. After 3 hours of gelato dinner, we decided to get a slice of pizza after all!