As gourmet ice cream gains pop­u­lar­ity, it has be­come a talking ERIN WEINGER ex­am­ines our fas­ci­na­tion with sweet treats

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents -

Gourmet ice-cream has be­come our sweet­est na­tional ob­ses­sion.

With a 17°C chill, grey sky and side­ways driz­zle, a re­cent sum­mer’s evening in Mel­bourne could have passed for a dif­fer­ent sea­son. But the poor weather didn’t de­ter Harry Dob­son, 27, from bik­ing to Pi­dapipo, the three-year-old Carl­ton gelataria with a per­ma­nent line out the door. His mis­sion? Three tubs of the “best gelato in the city” to serve at a din­ner party.

In any other mar­ket, the ther­mo­stat would dic­tate one’s de­sire for cold, sweet treats. But in ur­ban en­claves through­out Aus­tralia, where fam­ily-owned gelato shops and small batch ar­ti­sanal ice cream pur­vey­ors are mul­ti­ply­ing, dairy-laden desserts are no longer just a hot sea­son del­i­cacy. Ac­cord­ing to Dairy Aus­tralia, our coun­try is third in ice cream con­sump­tion per capita in the world, be­hind New Zealand and the US.

“When I first started it was like, ‘Oh, what’s gelato?’” says Diana Kon­to­prias, who opened her Frangi­pani Gelato Bar in Syd­ney’s Cronulla in 2002. She has since gone on to win ac­co­lades at Italy’s Gelato World Tour for her pavlova-flavoured ver­sion.

Made from whole milk in­stead of cream, gelato has less fat than ice cream and a silkier tex­ture. Now, Kon­to­prias says, times have changed. “It’s been par­tic­u­larly good in the last two years.”

Iced treats have be­come a calorific ri­poste to the sugar-free move­ment, and a so­cial me­dia sen­sa­tion. Top blog­ger Aimee Song, who boasts 4.3 mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers, once re­vealed that her most liked post of all time is a shot of her hold­ing an ice cream cone.

Cer­tainly, the in­dus­try’s fu­ture looks sweet. Mar­ket re­search firm IBISWORLD pre­dicts that rev­enue in Aus­tralia will grow at an an­nual rate of 13.6 per cent over the next five years, fore­cast to reach $1 bil­lion. Niche “scoop-and-serve” op­er­a­tors will drive a gen­er­ous por­tion of that growth.

The mar­ket leader is Syd­ney­based Gelato Messina, known for its snaking week­day evening queues and in­ven­tive flavour com­bi­na­tions (like licorice, fairy bread or Jack Daniels and coke). One Se­in­feld- like an­noy­ance stems from in­de­ci­sive fans who in­sist on sam­pling end­less flavours be­fore set­tling on one.

Messina founder Nick Palumbo is partly to blame for this de­lec­ta­ble predica­ment. He opened his first store in Dar­linghurst in 2002, start­ing a mini em­pire with 14 out­lets across the coun­try, a Las Ve­gas lo­ca­tion, and a de­gus­ta­tion-style dessert bar in Syd­ney.

But it’s not the only no­table player in the game. Seven-year-old Cow and the Moon, based in Syd­ney’s En­more, took top hon­ours at the Gelato World Tour in 2014, while Pi­dapipo, founded by Lisa Val­mor­bida in 2014, opened its sec­ond store in Mel­bourne’s Wind­sor last April.

In Ho­bart, for­mer pas­try chef Alis­tair Wise and his wife Teena run Sweet Envy, of­fer­ing up ice cream flavours like tahini and honey from their truck, Big Bessie.

At Good Times Ar­ti­san Ice Cream in Syd­ney’s Potts Point, Mer­cado chef Nathan Sasi in­cludes a rasher of ba­con on top of his “Smash­ing Pump­kin” blend of salted caramel, pump­kin chunks and pra­lines. Mat­teo Zini, co-owner of La Ma­cel­le­ria in Bris­bane’s Tener­iffe, has his own the­ory as to why we are crav­ing in­die ice cream in myr­iad flavours.

“Gelato, if fresh and gen­uine, is a prod­uct that com­bines fats, pro­teins and sug­ars in a very bal­anced way,” says the Bologna-born en­tre­pre­neur, who stud­ied gelato mak­ing in Italy and opened a store after a 2009 back­pack­ing trip. “It’s also the kind of prod­uct that cre­ates emo­tions – specif­i­cally hap­pi­ness.”

So just what flavours are Aus­tralians crav­ing? La Ma­cel­le­ria’s sell­ers in­clude salted caramel, choco­late hazel­nut and crema Bologna, a le­mon egg cus­tard made us­ing his grand­mother’s recipe. The caramel is cooked from scratch on site and hazel­nuts are roasted in-house be­fore be­ing made into a paste.

Hazel­nut flavours rank highly at Messina, too, with white choco­late and hazel­nut their fourth most pop­u­lar. The com­pany is even plant­ing its own hazel­nut or­chard in Sey­mour, Vic­to­ria. Cur­rently, the num­ber one slot is taken by salted caramel and white choco­late. Milk choco­late with pecan fudge sits at num­ber two, and co­conut and pan­dan is third most pop­u­lar. At Frangi­pani, salted caramel is the shop’s best­seller. And at Pi­dapipo, hazel­nut takes the cone.

Large ice cream com­pa­nies are at­tempt­ing to cap­i­talise on the ar­ti­san craze. Vic­to­ria-based Con­nois­seur, which sells through Wool­worths, re­cently launched a col­lec­tion of flavours in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Brook­lyn ice cream com­pany Oddfel­lows. A “Wil­liams­burg” va­ri­ety mixes matcha green tea and white choco­late waf­fle cone, han­dle­bar mous­tache not in­cluded.

True ar­ti­san ice cream boasts in­gre­di­ents that are made from scratch on site – handy to re­mem­ber when you are pay­ing $10 for an ice cream sand­wich at a trendy gelato bar. And, of course, the con­stantly ro­tat­ing menu.

Kon­to­prias has been toy­ing with sticky date pud­ding and cin­na­mon fig va­ri­eties lately. “Cu­rios­ity al­ways gets the bet­ter of me,” she says.

ICE ICE BABY Yoghurt berry, choc mint,

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.