Title

A guide to recognising your gelato

Published September 27th, 2015

When is a scoop of gelato more than just a scoop of gelato? When it's made from a prized, third-generation, so-secret-it's-not-even-written-down Florentine recipe in which the only ingredients are milk, eggs, sugar and dairy adoration.

This is what I tasted for myself at Vivoli, a humble gelateria on a funny side street off Piazza Santa Croce in Florence, Italy, that I frequented as a student more than a decade ago. It’s a destination family-run gelato spot, opened by brothers Serafino and Raffaello Vivoli as a latteria and neighbourhood coffee shop in 1929.

The ultimate affogato: vanilla gelato 'drowned' by hot coffee. Picture: Jeralyn Gerba

In the early 1930s, Raffaello started whipping up small batches of cream custard and deep-freezing them between layers of ice and salt. It was a hit at home with locals and tourists, and it launched a new family business that has been roaring for decades.

Since then, Vivoli has been obsessed with making all-natural gelato with the very best seasonal ingredients and without additives or preservatives of any kind. There are about two dozen flavours, a mix of seasonal fruits (fig is the holy grail), nuts (Sicilian pistachio, chestnut), and family favourites (rice pudding, baked pear).

Silvana and her mamma, the ladies in charge at Vivoli. Picture: Jeralyn Gerba

Silvana, Rafaello’s granddaughter, is the head gelato maker. Over a crazy delicious lunch of tagliatelle and Tuscan wine at her favourite neighbourhood spot, L’Antica Noe, and then later over the hands-down best affogato in town at Vivoli, the excellent Italian hostess and recipe gatekeeper gave a few pointers for navigating the gelato bins and waffle cone towers of her country.


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Find great gelato in five easy steps

1. Colour: Good gelato is not flashy; its colour should almost be more pale and subtle than you are used to. If the strawberry is hot pink or the mint is fluorescent green, step away from the display case.

2. Volume: Be incredibly skeptical of huge gelato mounds under glass freezer cases, as it probably means there are stabilisers in the cream, along with other stuff you don’t want to be ingesting.

3. Texture: Real gelato should be soft and creamy. The unnatural stuff is shiny and glossy.

4. Seasonality and locality: Hazelnuts from Piedmont. Summer peaches from Umbria. Early fall figs from Tuscany. Notice where the ingredients are from and which fruit is in season. You should not find blueberry gelato in December.

5. Cones: At Vivoli, there's a strict no-cone policy. Why take unadulterated gelato and scoop it into a cone made out of lord-knows-what?

When you see this sign, you know you've hit the sweet spot.

As for the panna on top, feel free to ask for extra. All the Italian kids do.


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Author: Jeralyn Gerba

This article originally appeared on Fathom.

This article was from Fathom and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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