The first trip was for an Army soccer tournament. My husband was playing in Livorno, which is near Pisa. After dinner at the most amazing little bistro, the Italian players on his team brought us to the town’s most popular gelato stand ~ La Bottega del Gelato. It sat along the riverfront in Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi. Take a look around:
We all got a huge scoop. I chose the dark chocolate. Unlike standard American ice cream, the flavor was so rich and intense. Mmmmm just thinking about it, I wish I had another scoop right now.
My next Italian gelato adventure was in Rome. We almost didn’t make it to Rome. We were supposed to be stationed in Belgium for three years, but our tour got cut a year short. We found out we would be moving in 60 days, and we hadn’t been to Rome yet. We were always so busy, so my husband promised we would plan a trip there someday after we retired, but that wasn’t good enough for me. One day, I just bought two plane tickets and told my husband he was welcome to join me. Of course he did, and the vacation was amazing. One of my top three cities in the world.
We needed to get to the airport, but I needed one more scoop of gelato before leaving the country. It was so hot in Rome I knew a lemon gelato was just the thing to cool me off. The lady behind the counter was kind of rude – since she’s right near the Colosseum, she probably gets lots of crazy tourists – but the gelato was great! Again, super flavorful because of the natural flavors. Take a look around:
Now that I’m back in the states, one of my favorite places to get gelato is at the Venetian Casino in Vegas, but since I’m in Texas, I have to make my own. It’s actually really easy to make, it just takes a little time. I made this recipe to go on a homemade apple pie, but once you make the base (minus the cinnamon and vanilla), you can be creative and add all sorts of flavors and mix ins. Buon appetito!
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or ½ a vanilla bean)
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 4 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup sugar
Heat milk, cream, cinnamon sticks and vanilla in a saucepot over medium heat, until it reaches 170 degrees. Remove from heat and allow it to steep for 30 minutes. Return the pan to the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add ½ tsp. ground cinnamon.
Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a small bowl. Pour half of the milk mixture into the eggs and whisk to together to temper the eggs.
Pour the eggs into the pot with the remaining cream and whisk. Continue to cook until the cream begins to coat the spoon (about 185 degrees). Don’t overcook or your eggs will scramble.
Pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl.
To speed the chilling process, place the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice water and stir the cream.
Place the mixture into the refrigerator for about 4 hours. When you remove it from the fridge, it will have thickened.
Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and make according to the machine’s directions. I use a Cuisinart, which has a container that remains in the freezer. You pull the container out of the freezer, place it onto the machine. Pour the cream mixture into the container. Add the paddle and cover and process for about 15 minutes.
I always eat a bowl immediately because it’s nice and soft, but the machine directions recommend you freeze it for two hours prior to eating. I store it in a plastic container. It's excellent on apple pie.