One thing that Luci and I never fight over is our love of really good Gelato. I always feel a little unprepared when I we visit the upscale gelato establishments…so we have done some research on the finer points of the decadent nector! Thanks in advance to our friends at Why Go Italy for the help.
First question: What is gelato? And How is it different than Ice cream? Find out here (World of Ice Cream)
“Cioccolato” (chok-oh-LAH-toh) is basic chocolate, but the variations on this theme are nearly infinite. It’s all the rage to pair chocolate with other complimentary flavors, like hot pepper or orange, and there are also different kinds of chocolate even when it’s all by itself. Here are a few to look for:
- cioccolato fondente (cho-koh-LAH-toh fawn-DEN-teh) – Dark chocolate lovers, this is the label to look for. And if you see cioccolato fondente extra noir, I think you’ll understand that we’re talking about the darkest of the dark chocolates here. Dark chocolate haters (what’s wrong with you?!?), look for cioccolato al latte (cho-koh-LAH-toh ahl LAH-tay), or milk chocolate.
- bacio (BAH-cho) – Named for the famous chocolate candies that come from Perugia, this is a chocolate hazelnut combination not unlike Nutella (which is another common gelato flavor), often with bits of hazelnuts in the mix.
- gianduja or gianduia (jahn-DOO-yah) – Either way it’s spelled, it means the same thing – a creamy combination of milk chocolate and hazelnut. This flavor comes primarily from the Piedmont region, but it can be found throughout Italy.
- cioccolato all’arancia (cho-koh-LAH-toh ahl-ah-RAHN-cha) – This is chocolate orange. It’s most often a dark chocolate, not a milk chocolate, and may have either just an orange flavor or may also include candied bits of orange peel.
- cioccolato con peperoncini (cho-koh-LAH-toh kohn pep-pehr-ohn-CHEE-nee) – Another trendy chocolate addition, besides orange, is pepper – and this is often how you’ll see it on the flavor placards. It’s basically a hot pepper infused chocolate (usually dark chocolate), and can vary in terms of heat.
Nuts are a popular ingredient in many of the chocolate and cream flavors, but they’re also stand-alone flavors as well.
- pistacchio (pee-STAHK-yoh) – A classic flavor!
- mandorla (mahn-DOOR-lah) – Almond
- nocciola (noh-CHO-lah) – This is hazelnut all by itself (not combined with chocolate, as listed above).
- castagna (kahs-TAHN-yah) – This is chestnut, and isn’t nearly as common as some of the other nut flavors.
- fior di latte (FYOR dee LAH-tay) – Perhaps the base flavor for all cream (or even chocolate) flavors, this is literally “flower of milk” and it’s a wonderfully subtle sweet cream flavor.
- crema (KREH-mah) – This is a kind of egg custard flavor, and shouldn’t be confused with vanilla.
- zabaione (zah-bah-YOH-nay) – This is based on a dessert of the same name, made from (among other things) egg yolks and sweet Marsala wine. So it’s an eggy and custardy flavor, with an overtone of Marsala.
- cocco (KOH-koh) – Coconut
- caffè (kah-FAY) – Just in case you aren’t getting enough coffee flavor in your daily morning espresso, here’s the gelato version.
Technically, these aren’t really considered gelati – instead, they’re sorbetti (sorbetto in the singular) because they’re made without milk. The fruit flavors are some of my favorites – they’re so intense, you’ll be amazed at how like the real thing they taste.
- fragola (FRAH-go-lah) – Strawberry (and here’s the easiest strawberry gelato recipe ever!)
- lampone (lahm-POH-nay) – Raspberry (oh-so good with a dark chocolate flavor)
- limone (lee-MOH-nay) – Lemon (lime is really rare, but it’s lime, or LEE-may)
- mandarino (mahn-dah-REE-noh) – Mandarin orange
- melone (meh-LOH-nay) – Melon (usually cantaloupe)
- albicocca (al-bee-KOH-kah) – Apricot (sounds yucky…anyone tried it??)
- fico (FEE-koh) – Fig
- frutti di bosco (FROO-tee dee BOHS-koh) – These aren’t fruits belonging to some guy named Bosco, this means “fruits of the forest,” generally things like blueberries and blackberries.
- mela (MEH-lah) – Apple (also look for mela verde (MEH-lah VEHR-day), or green apple)
- pera (PEH-rah) – This is pear, and one of my favorite fruit flavors. It’s a really subtle flavor, but one of the best features of well-made pear gelato is the texture. You really feel like you’re eating a pear.
- pesca (PEHS-kah) – Peach
You’ll find regional and seasonal gelato specialties wherever you go, and some that are based on popular Italian candy bars or other desserts. There are so many to odd creations and tastes…here are a few interesting ones:
- zuppa inglese (TSOO-pah een-GLAY-zay) – Literally this is “English soup,” but it’s referring to that popular English dessert called “trifle.” It’s a custardy flavored base with bits of cookies (instead of sponge cake) and often a sweet wine like madeira or sherry.
- riso (REE-zoh) – This is literally rice, but is more akin to the gelato version of rice pudding. And yes, there are bits of rice in it.
- malaga (mah-LAH-gah) – Rum raisin
- stracciatella (strah-cha-TEL-lah) – If you think of this kind of like the Italian gelato equivalent of chocolate chip ice cream, you’re in the ballpark. It’s a fior di latte base with chocolate bits in it. The chocolate has usually been drizzled over the top of the just-made gelato and then mixed in after it’s hardened. This is a very common flavor.
- liquirizia (lee-kwee-REE-tzee-ah) – You may have been able to guess this one (it’s licorice), but the pronunciation can be a bit tricky if you’re caught unawares. .
- cannella (kah-NEL-lah) – This is cinnamon, and although it’s not that common it’s really a delight. It’s not like a super-hot cinnamon, but just a nice representation of the spice. Consider pairing this with fruit flavors like pear or apple, or with chocolate.
Ok…did we miss any? What is your fav? Just leave a comment below.
So how do your order Gelato? Here is a great how to video: