I have a well known weakness for gelato in all its flavors, particularly while traveling in Italy.
When I travel to a new town or region, I make a point of finding the best gelateria and note it for future trips – there’s nothing like an ultra-fresh, locally made scoop or two of gelato to make you feel like you’re truly in Italy.
A few years ago while finishing a fine meal at a Roman trattoria in late January, my cameriere brought me the list of the house-made dolci. Gelato was on the dessert list, so I quizzed him on what tonight’s flavors were. “Solo olio d’oliva” – meaning, “only olive oil.” I thought I must have asked the wrong question, but he reconfirmed, they were serving gelato made with extra virgin “new” olive oil.
Ok, I’m game, let’s try it.
“Wow,” is all I could say (which doesn’t really translate into Italian). The intense essence of freshly pressed olive oil combined with a creamy smooth texture was mind blowing. Oddly, I thought about how this might be a great combination for a milk shake, but that’s a different story.
If you have never tasted olive oil gelato, you gotta try it.
Looking for a simple recipe to make my own olive oil gelato with some freshly pressed olio nuovo, I ran across the Food52 website and a tasty recipe for olive oil gelato.
Written up and tested by Amanda, one of the Food52 founders, this recipe has just 4 ingredients (not including water and a pinch of salt). It works best if you have a gelato machine, which are pretty darn cheap these days – make the investment.
Here’s Amanda’s recipe. Be sure to use only the freshest Italian olive oil (the most recent pressing).
THE apotheosis of Mario Batali’s cooking and the Mediterranean diet is, in my dessert-loving view, the olive oil gelato at Otto (in New York City). It’s as smooth as aioli, pulsing with green olive flavor, and has sugar and salt dueling in the background.
As I fumbled through my cookbooks, I came across another version in Ice Creams, Sorbets & Gelati by Robin and Caroline Weir.
The Weirs are the foremost authorities on frozen desserts, and this book is the culmination of all of their research. And yet, I was also skeptical of their recipe, which calls for water in the custard, no cream or salt, and a whole lot of olive oil.
After chilling it overnight I whisked in olive oil to taste. The custard drank the oil like a good, dense mayonnaise, getting thicker and smoother with each stroke of the whisk. But after 6 tablespoons of oil — the Weirs call for 12 — I called it quits, and churned the gelato as is…
Michael Horne, CS
Los Gatos, CA USA