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Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Gelato days - when the Maestri Gelatieri came to town

It may be Autumn, but last weekend I was taken back to Italian summer evenings on the shores of Lake Garda, to afternoons of stifling heat in Florence, and stolen moments outside Leicester Cathedral on warm, sunny lunch breaks.

So what's brought on these memories, I hear you ask. Well, it's the taste of gelato. Not just any gelato, though. I'm talking about the creamy, silky texture, the richness, and the sheer genius of the marriage of flavours which tickle your tongue, slide down your throat, and leave you with a smile on your face.

I've eaten a lot of artisan gelato recently.

We're lucky in Leicester to have Gelato Village, an artisan gelato shop at an oh so handy location just around the corner from where I work. I'm very partial to flavours such as mango, pistachio and lemon and there are many others of course. At the end of October though, a team of ten Maestri Gelatieri came to town from Italy to share their passion and skills .

They were from all over Italy - some of the world's best gelato makers. Seven men and three women, most of whom had successful careers elsewhere before finding what they really wanted to do, which was to make gelato, in the traditional way, with their own hands and producing their own flavours. Now they were over here to share their favourite flavours and new sensations at Gelato Village..

"Come for  a meal" Laura Hadland from Thirst Media had said...."come and meet them all." So I did, over at Sapori in Anstey, a wonderful Italian restaurant which just happened to be Claudio Ranieri's favourite place when he was managing Leicester City Football Club. (I must just say I adored him- what a character, what a manager and oh how many mourned his departure.)

I digress, back to last Friday, and a noisy night with lots of feverish chat about food, wine, and yes, gelato in Italian, English and sign language.  Delicious Italian food too, for me a wild mushroom and goats cheese tartlet with cashew pesto, Italian fennel sausages and rigatoni followed by a sorrento lemon tart with a orange and carrot sorbet. Perfect.

Everyone was looking forward to their weekend organised by Antonio de Vecchi  and Daniele Taverna from Gelato Village and the Compagnia Gelatieri.

left to right Andrea Scarpati the owner of Sapori,  Raffaella Garavelli , Daniele Taverna and Antonio De Vecchi

They had all brought ingredients from their home regions, from Piedmont, the Marche, Milan, Lombardy and Perugia, to use with the non homogenised milk and cream from Red Poll rare breed cattle on the Belvoir Ridge Creamery farm in Leicestershire.

As soon as they arrived from Italy, they began to make, mix, create the most amazing selection of gelato flavours....

There were some big flavours which screamed "Eat me!" From the deeply rich Chocolate & Tuscan Cigar sorbetto to the subtle fig, almond and bay gelato, the stunningly refreshing and tangy quince and Franciacorta sparkling wine sorbetto and the Passito sweet white wine gelato.

Andrea Soban with his Biscotti Zaeti gelato...he studied law before becoming a gelato maker.

Yes, they were here to make, showcase and sell their creations but there were tastings and talks too, about the history of gelato and how they found their inspiration . According to Antonio Luzi pictured below, the gelato business in Italy is a very saturated market.

It was a busy weekend for all of the gelato makers. Some managed to get out to the Belvoir Ridge Creamery to see where the milk came from to make their gelato and that's what they were all very impressed with, the richness and quality of the milk.

Of course they went to Leicester Cathedral to see the tomb of  Richard III, but there wasn't time for them to really explore the city. There was just enough time for me to take Vera Castrovilli, Alessia Torselli and Raffaella Garavelli next door to one of my favourite places in Leicester, The Guildhall which they loved.

Vera and Alessia were both set designers in films and on stage, before fleeing their stressed careers, and Rafaella was in the corporate world flying all over Europe before returning to her home village and opening a gelateria.

Making gelato has made all three of them very happy.

I'm just as happy eating it, and really enjoyed tasting so many new flavours the weekend the Maestri Gelatieri came to town.. I do hope they come back one day......

Just to make your mouths water , here's the full list of the gelato and sorbetto flavours created for the  trip to Leicester

Paolo Brunelli made Crema Brunelli gelato with hazelnut & chocolate, and Ricotta Celeste a Pois gelato, flavoured with honey, coffee & lemon zest

From Matteo Carloni, there was Bacio gelato with hazelnut biscuits sandwiched with dark chocolate, and Malaga, a gelato made with a raisin & sweet wine custard

Vera Castrovilli & Alessia Torselli created Passito Erbaluce di Caluso, a gelato with sweet white wine

Raffaele Del Verme made a fig and chocolate gelato and a fig with almond and bay gelato

Raffaella Garavelli created a quince with Franciacorta sparkling wine sorbetto

From Antonio Luzi, there was a coffee gelato plus a spiced pear sorbetto

Andrea Soban made a Biscotto Zaeti gelato and Torrone, an Italian hazelnut nougat gelato.

Last but not least, Mirko Tognetti created a chocolate and tuscan cigar sorbetto and a Torta della Nonna gelato flavoured with pine nuts and cream.




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