When I was in Florence a few months ago, I ate a lot of gelato from fantastic gelatarias. Almost every day, I would revel in its freshly-made-and-scooped-before-my-eyes creaminess whilst wandering around the city’s cobbled streets.
Regular readers will know, though, that while I do love me some artisan, fresh, made-with-love, and/or fancypants foods, I also adore supermarkets* and their aisles of long-life, artisan-copycat, often-cheaper edibles. I could deny this part of myself. I could create a blog-Hannah with a nose in the air and an eyebrow raised at anything with a factory-stamped use-by date.
But then who would warn you about Cadbury Toffee Crunch? And who would let you know that, in Florence’s Despar supermarkets, you can get some lovely gelato for a fraction of the cost, a multiplication of the quantity, and a whole lot less queuing than is de rigueur at upscale gelatarias?
Exactly. You deserve real-Hannah, not fake-created-Hannah. And this is what real-Hannah has to say about Italian supermarket gelato.
Desidezi alla Panna Cotta e Caramello
Yes, the photo above is of supermarket gelato, but I defy you to look me in the eyes and tell me it looks unappealing. (Vegan and lactose-intolerant stances aside.) The texture of this gelato was lighter, airier, and fluffier (I just said three words that mean the same thing… West Wing reference, anyone?) than its denser gelataria cousins, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Regardless, the cream and vanilla notes of the gelato, combined with the almost-burnt sweetness of its nut-flecked caramel sauce, was fan-diddly-tastic.
Desidezi al Pistacchio e Gianduia
Despar’s two-in-one pistachio and gianduja gelati were my least favourite, although each was pleasant enough. As I’ve said countless times, I (obviously) love chocolate but only in its pure form – give me a few squares of the stuff over vaguely-chocolatey frozen cream any day. The pistachio ice cream was pleasant but equally as vague in flavour, as all I thought upon tasting it was “kinda nutty”, not “clearly pistachio”.
Desidezi al Limone di Sicilia
Remember how I once said that zingy, lemon-y desserts are my pick? Well, I’m no liar. This gelato was absolutely and utterly my favourite of Despar’s, and I actually bought it three times during my time in Florence. Each time, I ate it in under half an hour. (That said, this is a direct tasting note quote from near the end of one such effort: “Okay, wow, this really is a lot of gelato… lotsy lotsy tangy sweet… must. power. on.”)
This gelato epitomized my favourite aspect of a well-executed lemon dessert: the interplay of almost-too-tangy lemon with just enough sweetness to counter, without downplaying, the zinginess. This had an incredible depth of lemon juice (not peel – definitely not bitter peel) flavour, and was so wonderfully refreshing in its refusal to bow to the Sprite crowd. (I do not understand how Sprite is meant to be lemon-flavoured. I really don’t.)
And that’s my final word on the matter.
* Not just foreign ones, either. Prior to today, I’d already walked over to my local Coles twice this week to stock up on bits and bobs. Today, I told my housemate I was quickly popping over the road to get my new prescription filled out#. I came back an hour later. Yes, the housemate asked what on earth had taken so long. Yes, she rolled her eyes at me when I pulled Date and Caramel Scone Toast out of my shopping bag. I cannae help it, ma’am! The combination of “New!” and “Sale!” labels renders me powerless, even when attached to foodstuffs I wouldn’t normally glance at. (I’m not a bread/toast person at all. Seriously. I ate one baguette during my entire 3ish-week stint in Paris.)
# Thank heavens my doctor agrees that something really, really needs to be done about my year-long toe saga. You’d’ve thought two surgeries and enough antibiotics to turn my insides radioactive would be enough, but no. The current course of action involves blood pressure medication and at least three visits to the nurse this week. So, folks, if I start writing posts that seem even waftier than normal, it’s probably just because I’m feeling light-headed.