“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Mercury rising, I quickly learned to combat summer heat like the locals with ‘gelato’ (Italian ice cream).
Setting off route, I found an authentic ice cream parlour, dating back to the 1900s – Gelateria Giolitti. This genuine Italian creamery is enchanting for its vintage décor, and blend of natural ingredients used to produce the epitome of handmade gelato. Craving both the ‘la dolce vita’ and ‘la bella vita,’ I managed to find both in frozen batches of happiness. Equally striking, is the quality of service. It’s all about you! Hailing to your inner-Caesar, hospitable servers abide to your every inclination by preparing the ultimate icy treat.
Scream not for ice cream here! Following the leader – a.k.a. you – ask for one to three helpings of highly dense lusciousness. Select among dozens of recipes varying from melon to coffee or opt for a range of full-bodied taste in pistachio, zabaglione, tiramisu and yes, even the famed chocolate hazelnut spread, Nutella. The scoop’s the limit! Served in a cup or cone, once determined, complete your creation with a dollop of freshly whipped cream – the real stuff – or other toppings for a tastier ‘finale.’ Armoured with a tiny plastic utensil, holding a chilled dessert never felt so rewarding. I, unequivocally, defeated the scorching sun. Every spoonful of this slowly-churned soft-serve gelato felt as refreshing as being fanned by palm leaves – a Cleopatra moment, almost.
Continuing with my epicurean escapade, I adopted a Roman custom of my own – to close the evening with a scrumptious night cap. To Dagnino I go! Makers of traditional Sicilian desserts, this bakery and coffee bar is for lovers of sweet-everything. To be shared over a sit down chat or boxed for a dinner party, the selection of crumbly butter cookies looked tempting. In another refrigerator, in epic proportion, vivid fruit jelly tarts and moist dome-shaped cakes were attractively displayed; a suitable match for a gladiator-worthy appetite.
Victory prevailed! The best of both worlds, in texture and measure, presented itself in something I had yet to try – ‘cassatina siciliana.’ Typical of Palermo, a southern region of Italy, this dessert is soft and sweet; it contains a cake base – soaked with liqueur – covered with a mixture of ricotta cheese and candied fruit, then enrobed in a pale green marzipan shell similar to icing. Needless to say, personal history had been made! Also adding to my cannoli-eating repertoire, I had now tried the pistachio variation; a crispy pastry containing a creamy pistachio-infused ricotta filling that’s reliably divine. Goodbyes are normally bittersweet. Fortunately, my Roman holiday concluded with a sweet ending. To good sights and eats, “cin, cin!”
Copyright © DISHFUL, 2013.