Thursday, September 4, 2008
Dessert 2: il laboratorio
Ciao Bella is a common sight around the Bay Area. There's one just down the street from me in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto and another at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. As it turns out, our next stop was the latest cold/creamy venture of the guy who started Ciao Bella.
According to the clipped-out news article on the door, il laboratorio del gelato is the shop he has opened with his mother. It's a tiny sliver of a place with a window to order at facing the sidewalk. The flavors were interesting, and included an olive oil gelato that pretty successfully brought out the fruitiness of good olive oils.
However, olive oil wasn't an option since it reminded Alexis of the time I dragged her with me to Sonoma while I was researching a story about farm-to-table travel and made her sample olive oils. You're supposed to take a small mouthful, swish it around in your mouth, and then, in the tradition of wine tasting, either spit it into the nearby small, shiny bucket or swallow it. But unlike wine, it's hard to clear the palate after a sample of olive oil. Everything in your mouth is coated, and even if you don't end up drinking it, it's difficult not to leave with the feeling you need to scrub your mouth out with the most absorbent bread you can find.
So instead, we settled on a refreshing double scoop of fresh mint gelato and strawberry gelato. It was delicious, a combination that I'd like to replicate soon. I was particularly curious about the fresh mint, and how it would taste when made in large batches meant for commercial consumption. Except for the first time I had fresh mint ice cream (at the ice cream shop Christina's in Inman Square in Cambridge), I've always made it myself, so I've gotten to control the type of mint I choose and how long to steep it. Il laboratorio's was good, but I think for fresh mint ice cream or gelato, nothing beats making it yourself and eating it fresh.