With tomato, basil, saffron, and even radicchio, or else with beer and extra-virgin olive oil.
The gourmet gelato, or savoury gelato as it may be better known, is an ever-expanding universe. Many gelato shops here in Italy have started offering this delicious alternative to traditional creams and fruit flavours. Of course, these are parlours which like to keep up with consumer trends, by keeping their hand on the pulse of the evolution of research and innovation.
Whereas we can pop round to our local gelato-makers to enjoy a cone or tub of pure savoury gelato, it’s quite another thing to find somewhere that will match it with the right foods. You’ll need to find restaurants, which may or may not have Michelin stars, and which still believe that gelato has to be crafted by hand, and so produce savoury gelato for batch freezing and serve it up as a pairing for main courses. Making a perfect savoury gelato is no mean feat – you need to make sure to get the right proportions of salt and sugar without overpowering the flavour of the original ingredient. At the same time, it’s crucial to keep a close eye on its texture, to make sure the gelato stays scoopable even at -18°C, the temperature at which restaurateurs normally store gelato. There’s plenty of help for chefs in the form of balanced semi-finished ingredients and the recent compact batch freezers which, given the limited production of gelato in a restaurant, make it possible to produce just a few kilos of gelato at a time.
Whether it’s sweet or savoury, the watchwords today reflect a desire to go back to our roots and to the genuine article: at the heart of the finest traditional gelato, just as for savoury ones, lie excellent natural ingredients. In that sense, an ideal meeting point between chefs and gelato-makers can only come in enhancing our typical local products: Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto Crudo di Parma, symbols of Italian excellence the world over. They would make perfect ingredients for a savoury gelato, a product of the finest Italian design, but above all one of top quality. But where did the idea of making anything edible into gelato actually come from?