Today I met more passionate foodie men (and a woman). Antonio, Stephane and Simona are friends who met through the randomness of house shares several years ago and four months ago opened La Gelatiera in New Row, Covent Garden. It is a gorgeous little shop. They kindly invited me and Dom to visit for a tasting. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but who says no to free ice cream? What I found was owners incredibly passionate about making the best food they can with the best possible ingredients.
Most of their sourcing is through the Slow Food Association. Antonio is the chief ice cream maker and Simona, who came in just before we left, comes most evenings after she finishes her day job, to bake the brioche and biscotti and other fine non-frozen treats. They are mostly recipes of her grandmother. Antonio’s grandfather used to have an ice cream parlour in Italy and he’s devoured books on chemistry written by other ice cream makers to get a scientific approach to the best ice cream.
The milk comes from Jersey cows and isn’t pastuerised or homogenised before it arrives so it keeps the good proteins as well as making a better flavour. They don’t actually buy any chocolate for any of their wide range of chocolate offerings, preferring to purchase the cocoa mass, cocoa butter and cocoa powder separately so they can control the sugar and not have any soy lecitihin that most chocolate manufacturers use. They refuse to sell water because it “is free from the tap and shouldn’t be sold” and also because, so I learned today, the “dry residue” that is mentioned by law on all water bottles is higher than it is in tap water and apparently bad for your kidneys. I’ve never heard this before and am yet to research it further but I love that Antonio cares so much to ensure that what they serve at La Gelatiera is good for you in as many ways as possible. The coffee beans currently come from a social project in Italy, they are roasted within a prison.
None of these ethics override the importance of taste. Which I know because they were generous with their samples and we tasted everything with chocolate and a few other things besides. Antonio asked me “so, no more desserts for you this week after this?”. Ha. He obviously doesn’t know me well yet! We did leave completely satiated of sweet things (for the afternoon…). The levels of sweetness in the ice cream and desserts varies and most are not sickly sweet. For those who are giving into a sugar craving, the chocolate salami or the salty caramel ice cream would definitely satisfy.
The chocolate gelato, one of the first things we tasted, was rich and almost pudding like with just the right balance of sweetness. Delicious. The version with chilli had just the perfect amount of (fresh) chilli to warm your mouth without burning it. I have two favourite, must-try things from the afternoon. The tartufo which they are just about to launch (you will be able to book one hour sessions to enjoy one with your lover for Valentine’s) and the Dolce Amore, an indulgent chocolate mousse made with an Italian liqueur, butter, eggs and cocoa mass and topped with flaked almonds.