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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Gelato or Ice Cream? Annie West

I was answering a question someone had asked about the inspiration for my latest book FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET LOVE-CHILD and one of the things that came to mind was walking through a town on Lake Como in Northern Italy, eating lemon gelato. Fantastic!

Of course that wasn't really the inspiration for the story, but I spent a fair bit of time researching the location and of course that had to include local food! I remember quite a few things about that long ago visit to the area where this book was set, but the fantastic tangy gelato is one of the most vivid.

I'm a gelato fan. A friend of mine used to go out with an Italian guy whose dad made gelato. I've never tasted anything as luscious as his chocolate gelato (so rich and dark) or his lime and lemon. Mm! Since then my tastes have expanded and I've tried berry and coffee and fruit gelati. In fact I haven't yet met a gelato I don't like.

I'm not alone. These icy treats have been around for hundreds of years, or thousands. It's believed they've evolved from the ice treats that used to be available to the ultra wealthy in ancient Rome, made from snow brought down from the mountain tops. Apparently they featured at Medici family banquets in Florence a couple of centuries ago. Since then ice cream and gelati have been spreading around the world.


I get a thrill walking into a gelateria (I've been to a few just recently) and deciding which to try. Blood orange was a recent fave and I've got all those nut flavors to taste too. Gelato generally has a lower fat content than ice cream so I can pretend when I eat it that I'm being healthy (slightly). But then, a really good ice-cream, rum and raisin for instance, is a delight.

So, which are you? A gelato gobbler or an ice cream eater? Or both? And which is your fave flavor? Do you remember the first time you tried gelato/ice cream? My mother tells the story of seeing the sea for the first time about about 5 years of age and being given her first ice cream at the same time. Sadly no one warned her that if you lick too hard the scoop can roll out and land at your feet.

Just for the fun of it, I'm giving away a signed copy of my latest Presents Extra title: FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET LOVE-CHILD to one person who contributes a comment. Otherwise, you can order the book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I think it's a story even more luscious than gelato, and to give you a taste, the back cover begins with 'He's forgotten their past but not her body...'

42 comments:

Caroline Storer now Hartin said...

Hi Annie. I like both - well you have to cover all bases don't you? My favourite? Strawberry - even better if there are *real* pieces of strawberries in it! Yum. Caroline x

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Hi, Annie! I can just picture you in Italy, pondering over those luscious mounds of gelato.

I love gelato and ice-cream equally, but on a summer's day, there's nothing like a big serve of raspberry sorbet gelato. Mmmm!

I don't remember my first ice-cream experience but my older sisters have a great story. They were toddlers when my family migrated to Aus from Holland (before I was born). When they ate ice-cream for the first time, they didn't know the cone was also edible, so they threw it away. I believe it was a looonnng time before someone kindly told them they could eat lock, stock and barrel. But don't you think the ice-cream is the best bit anyway?

Fun post, Annie!

Michelle Douglas said...

Annie, you wicked woman! I've lost 2k since Christmas (and yes it has been a concerted effort), but I swear I've put them back on after reading your post.

Now... I seem to recall sitting with you in a cafe playing the what-flavour-gelato/ice cream-is-your-current-hero game. I'd peg your Alessandro as a wicked dark chocolate with peppermint crisp chunks kind of guy. What do you think? My current hero is straight vanilla, but I'm going to dribble a little hot marshmallow fudge over the top just for fun.

Off now to raid the pantry!

host said...

I'm all gelato girl! My favourites are pistachio and whole nuts, mmmmm.
The sad part (beside me getting a few extra pounds every summer) is that I live in a country where gelato is sold only during the summer. So I spend my winters dreaming about the day I will lick my first gelato for that year :)

Annie West said...

Hi Caroline,

You remind me of me - I always have trouble choosing one single fave. I'm definitely with you on the chunks of fruit. Yum!

Annie West said...

Hi Vanessa,

Your poor sisters. I bet they felt cheated when they realised what they'd been missing. Though I have to agree, the ice cream is the best part.

Yes, on a really hot day I'd go for fruit gelato too. A couple of years ago I tried passionfruit gelato for the first time - faaantastic. Great in a heat wave.

Annie West said...

Oh Michelle, and you call me wicked. I can't wait to see your current hero after you dribble hot marshmallow fudge over him. Mm! Yes, I was chortling to myself as I wrote, thinking of our 'what flavour ice cream is your hero' game. You could be write. This current one is definitely dark, dark chocolate. Perhaps with peppermint crisp, or maybe even with a rich hazelnut edge to it. Mm. I'll have to investigate further and get back to you on that.

Sorry about the diet. But honestly, they say gelato is less fattening than ice cream!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Annie, what an evil blog for someone to read when she is trying to cut down on sweet treats after an Easter of chocolate gluttony...

I love gelato and have very fond memories of a wonderful gelato bar in Manly, a beachside suburb of Sydney. My friend Beth and I would swim in the surf then treat ourselves to a mixed cone with about five different tangy flavors.

Many years later we are still friends and mourn both the loss of that gelato bar and the effortlessly slim figures we had back then that allowed us to indulge so readily!

Favorite ice-cream? Cookie dough--yum!

Annie West said...

Ah host, you poor thing. No gelato for six months? I recall my first visit to Greece years ago. One of the friends I was travelling with is an ice cream addict and it took her a day to learn the Greek word for ice cream. Wherever we went she'd see signs for ice cream and ask for some, only to be told it isn't sold in winter! You think they could have taken down the signs and saved her the pain...

You know, I haven't tried pistachio gelato. Another one to add to my list.

Hope it's not too long before your next gelato.

Annie West said...

Hi Kandy,

So sorry to distress you with my calorie laden post. I love the sound of the Manly gelato bar. What a perfect way to round of a morning's swim!

Cookie dough ice cream? That's my teens' favourite. I think I'm a rum and raisin girl myself (as long as it's not made with that dreadful fake rum).

Serena said...

Hmmmm gelato or ice cream? Ice cream or gelato? Think I'll go for gelato! I'm definitely a fruit-flavour gelato (Mr Pace of Casa del Gelato in Lygon Street in Melbourne does a mean kiwifruit gelato and a passionfruit gelato that is to die for. Then there's always Brunetti's gelati. YUM!!!!!)

I do have a story of when I first tasted gelato. Though I was born here in Melbourne, I'm born of Italian parents (geez, does my name give it away??) I even hate to admit to this but as a very young girl, we didn't have a fridge with a freezer - we were renting and we had a fridge that "worked" with a huge block of ice in the top. That was delivered twice a week?? Anyway, we couldn't store ice creams at home. We were very good friends with the people who owned a milk bar a few streets away and they also carried a lot of imported things like the arranciata (orange soft drink) and they made cappuccino and espresso before they were trendy. On a Sunday night they would visit after they closed the milk bar. I was maybe five or six and used to go to bed early, but one night I must have been up because our friend arrived with a log of delicious iciness that was lemon, strawberry and orange flavoured. I think I fell in love with gelato on that night. After that I would always try to stay up as late as I could, waiting for the magic-tasting gelato, but too often I would fall asleep. What a great memory :)

Next time in Melbourne, it's Brunetti's for gelato, OK?

Hugs
Serena
xoxox

Annie West said...

Oh Serena, what a great reason to try staying awake late! And what a lovely way to be introduced to this icy delight. So fantastic that you remember your first taste of it. I think my first taste was when my friend brought over the home made gelati and I thought I'd gone to heaven.

OK, so now I have to add Casa del Gelato to my list of Melbourne must dos. And Brunetti's does gelati? Definitely an excuse to go back. Thanks for that Serena, I'll be joining you there!

Sharon Archer said...

Annie, that history about gelato is so interesting! Those Romans must have been a resourceful lot - would have been a decadent life provided you'd had plenty of money!

I'm undecided about which I prefer! Argh! Don't make me choose! LOL

But I can tell you when I first tasted gelato - I was 25 years old and I'd not long moved to Australia. That was a loooooong time ago and in that first year I sampled all sorts of wonderful things - including cappaccino and pizza and real pasta! Yum!

:)
Sharon

Annie West said...

Sharon, I think eating the ice treats in those bygone days would have been much better than fetching the snow from the mountains!

It sounds like your first year in Australia was a momentous one. What can top the time you first try gelato and pizza etc? Hm...chocolate?

Virginia C said...

Hi, Annie! You are being very mischievous today! Tempting us with cool frozen treats and hot romance! Coffee ice cream is my favorite, but it's hard to think of an ice cream flavor that I don't like. When I was growing up, the place to go for sweet treats was "High's Ice Cream Store". They sold delicious ice cream, candy and other delights! I used to treat myself to a triple cone with three different flavors on a crispy waffle cone. I always chose coffee, mint chocolate chip, and strawberry cheesecake, and the lady who prepared my cone always shook her head! Also, "Dairy Queen" frozen soft serve "custard-style" ice cream is very good! Some of the best ice cream ever was the vanilla ice cream my grandfather made in the summer in the old hand-crank ice cream maker. That vanilla ice cream topped with sliced ripe peaches was out of this world! Finally, when one is sad and blue, what could be more uplifting than a fully loaded hot fudge sundae! Rich vanilla ice cream, thick hot fudge sauce, chunky walnut syrup, whipped cream and a cherry on top. Combine all that with a wonderful Annie West love story and all would be right with the world : )

CrystalGB said...

I have never had gelato. I love ice cream. My favorite is butter pecan.

Michele L. said...

"He's forgotten their past but not her body..." ooo... sounds so good Annie! Great clue in!

I have to say I like Gelato really well but I like Ice Cream even better. I have had some really fantastic ice cream lately. Our store near us carries this wonderful brand where the ice cream is sooo...creamy and tastes homemade! My favorite flavor has to be raspberry cheese cake. Yum!

PJ said...

Hi Annie! Love both but, if given the choice, I'd pick gelato every time. Of course, it would have to be Italian made gelato. I've been to many places selling gelato in the U.S. and none of them even come close to the quality of gelato in Italy.

I don't remember my first taste of ice cream but my first gelato is firmly planted in my memory. I was 16, it was limone (lemon) and came from a cart just outside the Roman Colisseum. After one taste, I was ready to ditch historical sites and spend the rest of my time in Italy tracking down gelato carts!

Lemon is still my favorite but during my last trip to Italy I made a point of trying other flavors too. Love hazelnut, peach, chocolate, pear...and on and on.

If it's in a cone, my favorite ice cream is vanilla. After working nine hours yesterday, I popped through the drive-up at McDonald's about 10:30 last night and got a vanilla cone. Pure bliss! If it's in a bowl, my favorite is Mayfield Moose Tracks. It's vanilla ice cream with denali fudge and mini peanut butter cups. I don't buy it very often because I just can't say no!

Laney4 said...

Hey there! I think I gained weight reading your blog. Thanks a lot, LOL!

I must lead a sheltered life. I've never heard of gelato before. People around these parts eat ice cream or yogurt. Our ice cream goes bad in our freezer, so I started buying just a tiny container when it's on sale for a dollar -- and it goes bad too! We just don't think to eat it!

As for a favorite flavor, I usually eat vanilla -- I know, BORing! I DO recall that as a teenager my girlfriend introduced me to grape ice cream (before soft ice cream came out). I loved it! Fast forward to about ten years ago when another girlfriend introduced me to DQ's bubble gum ice cream. Loved that ice cream too -- until I broke a tooth while eating it. Haven't had it since....

chey said...

I like both. I have to be sure it's gluten free though.
My favourite flavour is chocolate.

denise said...

Hi Annie..
I don't think I have ever tried gelato, but I am definitely willing to try........
Fav flavor ice cream is chocolate brownie. YUM!!
I would love to read your book. It sounds so tempting.

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, you wicked, wicked girl! Now I'm craving some ice-cream and it's far too early in the morning. Luscious post! My main memory of gelato is from my visit to Florence in my mid-20s. I still remember trying so many of the flavors (yes, I made a complete pig of myself). Favorites included stracciatella and zabaglione and pistachio and of course, you can never go past chocolate. Although a great espresso comes close. Yum! I love ice-cream too - currently my crush is peppermint Magnums. Food of the gods!

And speaking of delicious things, your FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET LOVE-CHILD is amazing! Oh, what a yummy hero. What happens when you lick him too hard? Snort!

Estella said...

Have never eaten gelato. I love strawberry ice cream.
I cannot remember not eating ice cream, so I must have been young.

Annie West said...

Oh Virginia, aren't you sweet? Hot fugde sundae and a hot romance sound like a terrific combination. Just perfect for the warmer months.

It's sounds like you're a real ice cream afficionado. The triple ice creams sound like a real treat but what's got my mouth watering is your recollection of your grandfather's vanilla ice cream. I love home made ice cream. My dad used to make it (vanilla) but sadly doesn't any more and it was always fantastic - so much richer and creamier and more flavoursome than bought ice cream.

It's early morning here and I've sat down with a cup of tea. I wonder if I can have ice cream for breakfast?

Annie West said...

Hi Crystal. Do yourself a huge favour - try a gelato this summer! The tang of the fruit is gorgeous. Having said that - butter pecan - yum! I wonder if that's the same as our butterscotch pecan ice cream? If so, double yum!

Annie West said...

Michele, with a ready supply of great ice cream nearby I'm not surprised it's your fave. I've never tried raspberry cheesecake or any sort of cheesecake ice cream for that matter. Another one to add to the growing list...

Annie West said...

Michele, I forgot to say I love that line from the back cover too! I can say that as I didn't write it (G) but as soon as I read it I thought - Yes!

Annie West said...

Hi PJ,

What a fantastic memory - limoni gelato in Rome. Yes, I can imagine you on a mission then to find more. Wouldn't that be nice, a gelati-based holiday to Italy? I only had a few gelati in Italy but they were gorgeous and I have to say the ones I've had here seem just as good (possibly because we have lots of talented Italians who've obviously bought the know-how here. But maybe it's time to try checking against the original - what an excuse for a trip!

Moose Tracks sounds intriguing PJ. I'm fascinated by the things people put in ice cream. Wow!

Annie West said...

Laney - you poor thing - a freezer where the ice cream goes bad! That's terrible. If you ever get the change, especially on a hot day, do try a gelato. It's so refreshing and tasty.

Nothing boring about vanilla ice cream, if it's nice. I say this loyally as my dad is a huge fan and will always order vanilla. I've never heard of grape ice cream. How interesting!

Annie West said...

Chey, chocolate? Sounds good to me. Rich and icy. Mm.

Annie West said...

Hi Denise. Another girl who hasn't tried gelato? Hope you change that this coming summer. It's worth it, believe me. Thanks - I think Forgotten Mistress is pretty tempting too. Am smiling just thinking about it!

Annie West said...

Hi Anna, you're clearing a gelato expert. I wouldn't call that making a pig of yourself. It was definitely serious research to find a fave! Essential work I feel.

Grinning at the idea of licking my current hero. He was quite delicious, I decided as I wrote. However, as a dedicated family man, I don't see Alessandro letting himself get licked by some stray romance writer - Carys is is woman and that's is (sigh).

Annie West said...

Hi Estella, I'm like you. I can't imagine a time before I'd tried ice cream. I think sometimes we take it for granted. It's always nice to sit and savour it. You know, I haven't had strawberry ice cream in years. By the time I track down all the delicious flavours you people have mentioned I'm going to need a serious diet!

Lois said...

Hmm, well, as long as it's chocolate, I probably won't care what it is! LOL :)

Lois

Annie West said...

Lois, I understand your thinking!

Annie West said...

Thanks, everyone, for leaving your comments on this blog. It's been fantastic swapping gelato and ice cream stories. I have to go out for an hour or so but will draw a winner for my free book when I get back.

Annie

Annie West said...

Back again and I couldn't resist the ice cream. Well, it's not ice cream, but I now have lemon sorbet in the freezer. Can't wait.

I've had such a lovely time talking sweet treats with you all. I gave up trying to pick a winner for my giveaway and so I've done a random draw.
So, CONGRATULATIONS, HOST!

If you email me at annie@annie-west.com with your postal address I'll send you a copy of FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET-LOVE-CHILD.

Leni said...

I'm a lover of butter pecan ice cream, but I can not remember the first time I tried it. I also love chocolate gelato, I just don't eat it as much as ice cream.

Annie West said...

Hi Leni,

Ooh, they both sound scrumptious - butter pecan and chocolate. Sigh. I should be watching my weight after Easter but I have this urge to eat frozen treats...

Alison said...

Oh, my daughter does that! - she licks so enthusiastically that the icecream rolls off and drops at her feet. I like fruit sorbets - yummy but low-cal!

Sue A. said...

I have to say ice cream. I have an electric ice cream maker so I love making homemade ice cream with a custard base.

Annie West said...

Alison, aren't fruit sorbets gorgeous? I'm having one tonight.

And Sue, I'm jealous of your home made ice cream. It always tastes best fresh!