Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Fat Guy

NYC: the state of gelato 2007

Recommended Posts

The opening of Grom on the Upper West Side presents, I think, a good opportunity to look at the state of gelato in NYC in 2007.

So, what are our current thoughts on the merits of gelato old and new? Ciao Bella, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, Cones, Grom . . . what's the pecking order and why?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't been to Grom yet, but here's my ranking:

1. Otto (by far the best in the city...MK's olive oil, ricotta and sweet corn gelatos are all tremendous).

2. Laboratorio (which after all supplies most restaurants)

3. Cones

4. Ciao Bella

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yolato is fairly new and possibly known more for frozen yogurt but gelato is main offering. very good, although no olive oil flavors or anything of the sort.


Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

defining gelato would help, for starters. apparently one very popular gelato contains too much butterfat to qualify as such. not that it seems to bother the lemmings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You seem to have a definition in mind. Perhaps you'll share it?

oui. 8% fat or less. american producers tend to stretch it to the limit or even secretly go over 8% because the consumer, whether they admit it or not, usually desires a rich product.

i'm all for otto, don't care if it's technically gelato or not (though it likely is).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd put laboratorio ahead of otto. Really haven't been that impressed by otto. Grom just below laboratorio.

But ahead of all of them? Capogiro.


I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the olive oil gelato at Otto is amazing, but I'll move to exclude Otto from consideration here. Restaurant gelato is a different animal.

I don't know of any official definitions of gelato. Maybe they're out there, but I haven't seen them. I know ice cream is rigorously defined by the USDA and that the 10% milk fat minimum is the cornerstone of the guidelines. But that doesn't mean something isn't gelato if it has 10% or more milk fat -- it just means it's ice cream too.

Gelato seems to me to be a somewhat flexible concept. After all, it's just the Italian synonym for ice cream, glace, etc. There's a general stylistic difference, but also some overlap. While we can point to 4-8% as the standard range, the milk fat percentage is only part of what gives Italian-style gelato its character. There's also its density, due to having less air incorporated into it than ice cream tends to have -- that's part of why gelato, even when it has only 4-8% milk fat, tastes quite rich. The way it's held and served is also important to the experience. Real gelato freezers are not the same as ice-cream freezers. Also, because gelato has been trendy in the US for 25+ years now (starting in California in the early 1980s), it's probably necessary to acknowledge an American style of gelato.

I think the Ciao Bella and Il Lab products lean much more towards the American style, whereas Cones and, presumably, Grom, lean more towards the Italian style.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

why is restaurant gelato excluded? heck most restaurant gelato in NY is sourced from Il Lab....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most? I imagine Ciao Bella with its factories on both coasts does a substantially larger restaurant business than Il Lab out of that one little shop. If you're talking about high-end restaurants only, plenty of them make their own, and yes, some buy.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll rephrase: the high-end restaurants that source their gelato get it from Lab.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do think it's worth noting that the gelato at Otto is probably better than anything you can get in an NYC gelateria (though I haven't tried the Grom product), but that's sort of like saying the bread at Daniel or Per Se is better than the bread at any bakery. It's an interesting piece of information but sort of a mix-and-match when it comes to ranking like kinds of establishments. I was more hoping to establish a gelateria pecking order, not one that includes all the restaurants and packaged supermarket products (whether they come from the same vendors or not). If we are going to discuss restaurant gelato, though, let's make a real list, not one with just one restaurant on it.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't know of any official definitions of gelato. Maybe they're out there, but I haven't seen them. I know ice cream is rigorously defined by the USDA and that the 10% milk fat minimum is the cornerstone of the guidelines. But that doesn't mean something isn't gelato if it has 10% or more milk fat -- it just means it's ice cream too.

Gelato is simply the Italian word for "ice cream." Well, actually it's a little more complicated than that. It's the past participle of the verb gelare, which means "to freeze over" or "to freeze." So technically gelato simply means "frozen." From this we get latte gelato, meaning "frozen milk." In the sense that it is used to mean "ice cream," the milk part became "understood" and the adjective became the noun standing in for the whole phrase.

Anyway... in America, gelato has come to mean "Italian-style ice cream." There are several things that distinguish gelato from ice cream. In Italy, gelato is made from rich whole milk instead of cream. It is also frozen and held at a higher temperature, and is considerably more dense. This results in a different experience from American ice cream. Both American ice cream and Italian gelato have a light component and a rich component, but they are reversed. American ice cream, traditionally made with a high fat content and frozen at lower temperatures, derives its lightness from the air that is beaten into the cream as it freezes. The richness, of course, comes from the high fat content. Italian gelato, on the other hand, made from milk and frozen at low temperature, derives its lightness from a relatively low fat content. The richness comes from the low air content/density, which is created both by the fact that you can't whip air into milk and by the higher freezing temperature.

Personally, and I haven't tried Grom yet, I don't think that any gelato in NYC holds up next to quotidian Italian gelato, except for Laboratorio and Otto. Even the "just good" places in Italy seem to make their product daily and use fresh, seasonal ingredients.


--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I do think it's worth noting that the gelato at Otto is probably better than anything you can get in an NYC gelateria (though I haven't tried the Grom product), but that's sort of like saying the bread at Daniel or Per Se is better than the bread at any bakery. It's an interesting piece of information but sort of a mix-and-match when it comes to ranking like kinds of establishments. I was more hoping to establish a gelateria pecking order, not one that includes all the restaurants and packaged supermarket products (whether they come from the same vendors or not). If we are going to discuss restaurant gelato, though, let's make a real list, not one with just one restaurant on it.

The thing about Otto is that you can walk in the the front room and have only gelato (which accounts for something like 90% of the times I've been to Otto). This doesn't seem meaningfully different from going into a gelateria. In fact, it's not too much of a stretch to describe the front room of Otto as a gelateria. If you're going to exclude restaurants -- and I can understand your logic for doing so -- then I would argue that it makes sense only to exclude ones where gelato is only or primarily available at a table after dinner. If you can walk up to a counter and order a gelato, I'd say they should be able to compete. Similarly, if Per Se had a separate window (like Balthazar does) where you could buy their bread, I't say they could compete against Sullivan Street and Amy's, et al. for "best bread bakery."


Edited by slkinsey (log)

--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The lemon sorbetto on brioche at Otto for $3.75 is one of the City's great values.

It's disappointing that Grom doesn't offer brioche.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Otto used to have a gelato cart in Washington Square Park. they eventually stopped doing it...my understanding was that they never could achieve sufficient quality control on the cart temperature...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I do think it's worth noting that the gelato at Otto is probably better than anything you can get in an NYC gelateria (though I haven't tried the Grom product), but that's sort of like saying the bread at Daniel or Per Se is better than the bread at any bakery. It's an interesting piece of information but sort of a mix-and-match when it comes to ranking like kinds of establishments. I was more hoping to establish a gelateria pecking order, not one that includes all the restaurants and packaged supermarket products (whether they come from the same vendors or not). If we are going to discuss restaurant gelato, though, let's make a real list, not one with just one restaurant on it.

well the difference is....

you can walk into otto in the bar room/train station room (whatever) and order 2 gelatos.

you can't walk into daniel and just get the bread without dropping at least $125/person.

i actually stopped by il lab yesterday (after a nice trip to gus's pickles).... we had the black fig, buttermilk, and vanilla saffron. man, orgasmic creamyness, really fresh, exploding with flavor. and not too much saffron in the vanilla safron, and the buttermilk was so freaking good (and i don't even like buttermilk)

i had orange and watermelon sorbet and while you can tell that these were totally fresh made from real ingredients....the gelato was the superstar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't know of any official definitions of gelato. Maybe they're out there, but I haven't seen them. I know ice cream is rigorously defined by the USDA and that the 10% milk fat minimum is the cornerstone of the guidelines. But that doesn't mean something isn't gelato if it has 10% or more milk fat -- it just means it's ice cream too.

Gelato is simply the Italian word for "ice cream." Well, actually it's a little more complicated than that. It's the past participle of the verb gelare, which means "to freeze over" or "to freeze." So technically gelato simply means "frozen." From this we get latte gelato, meaning "frozen milk." In the sense that it is used to mean "ice cream," the milk part became "understood" and the adjective became the noun standing in for the whole phrase.

Anyway... in America, gelato has come to mean "Italian-style ice cream." There are several things that distinguish gelato from ice cream. In Italy, gelato is made from rich whole milk instead of cream. It is also frozen and held at a higher temperature, and is considerably more dense. This results in a different experience from American ice cream. Both American ice cream and Italian gelato have a light component and a rich component, but they are reversed. American ice cream, traditionally made with a high fat content and frozen at lower temperatures, derives its lightness from the air that is beaten into the cream as it freezes. The richness, of course, comes from the high fat content. Italian gelato, on the other hand, made from milk and frozen at low temperature, derives its lightness from a relatively low fat content. The richness comes from the low air content/density, which is created both by the fact that you can't whip air into milk and by the higher freezing temperature.

Personally, and I haven't tried Grom yet, I don't think that any gelato in NYC holds up next to quotidian Italian gelato, except for Laboratorio and Otto. Even the "just good" places in Italy seem to make their product daily and use fresh, seasonal ingredients.

yes...the short way of saying that is that there is more air whipped in american commercial ice cream. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And it's frozen, held and served differently. I think Sam's original statement was on target. The shorthand explanations -- e.g., "Gelato is made from milk not cream" -- tend to be incomplete.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The freezing and storing differences also account for the reason it's impossible to have decent gelato at home or from the supermarket. The lower temperature in home and supermarket freezers causes a change in the ice crystals that cannot be remedied by thawing (I forget exactly what the change is... I think they get fewer and bigger?). Companies like Ciao Bella that make packaged gelato are forced to include stabilizers, etc. to make their products seem more "gelato-like" despite being subjected to longer-term storage and lower temperatures. This is why the ingredient list for their chocolate gelato looks like this: "Milk, Cream, Sugar, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Corn Syrup, Buttermilk, Corn Syrup Solids, Whey, Peanut Oil, Guar Gum [emulsifier, stabilizer, thickener], Locust Bean Gum [thickener, gelling agent, retards ice crystal growth], and Carrageenan [thickener, stabilizer]."


--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Most? I imagine Ciao Bella with its factories on both coasts does a substantially larger restaurant business than Il Lab out of that one little shop. If you're talking about high-end restaurants only, plenty of them make their own, and yes, some buy.

Some restaurants also serve Bindi gelato.


Michael aka "Pan

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...