I Dream of Making Gelato...
Owners Michelle Jafee and her wife Barbara Grasso have something far better than any ice cream joint in Provincetown - gelato. During Michelle’s travels to Italy she realized that in order to enjoy her favorite Italian dessert, she needed to open her own place in the United States, appropriately naming it "I Dream of Gelato".
It is no wonder that Europeans have been flocking here, as they also know what should be expected in the way of both taste and consistency. Gelato, for those who have never tried it, is a sort of cross between ice cream and ices. It contains less fat and less air than ice cream, which is why you will find it a bit denser. Fruit gelatos contain real fruit, so upon doing a tasting you will most likely be able to identify the zest without even looking at the sign.
Michelle prepares her own no-egg base with flavors imported from Italy. Made daily, there are usually twenty-four flavors to chose, including sorbets. Due to the gelato equipment and process, you’d never guess that the sorbets were "milkless," as they have such a creamy texture.
Celebrating my 60th birthday "at home" in P’Town, I just had to have a gelato "cake." Shaped into a three-layer cake, the bottom flavor was chocolate, the middle a gelato called "Italian Whipped Cream" and the third, a layer of cherry gelato made with amerena cherries, which I’ll get to later. A chocolate sauce and more amerena cherries topped the best tasting "cake" I’ve ever eaten. With two other people, the gelato was finished in four days prompting another last minute gelato run before leaving.
Those three flavors were just a few of the more than 160 flavors have been showcased at I Dream of Gelato in the past five seasons. Michelle and Barbara have made several trips to Italy in order to perfect their gelato using the original hot process by making it "from scratch" which tends to be a bit more work.
Michelle first learned about the gelato process during a convention in Italy where she was able to taste flavoring products from several companies, including Fabbri. She decided that they had the best and took a gelato course from them, which was given in the U.S. Fabbri opened their North America office just a few years ago in Queens County, New York City, where Bob Bruno and his brother-in-law, John Yodice operate this company that not only sells the supplies but also provides a technical center to teach gelato producers the art of making this creamy and tasty treat.
Being a "hands on" person, I ventured to the company’s locale for some lessons. I was told that I can get lessons whether I’m opening my own gelato joint or want to "attempt do so this in my own home." Rather than the "Michelle scratch process", Fabbri has perfected powders that are whipped with the sugar, milk and concentrated pastes. The mix is then placed in a "soft serve" machine that will let you know just when the gelato is the correct consistency. After scooping it into a metal container, it then enters a "quick freeze" oven-like apparatus. It is those containers that you view, rather than the round or square cardboard-on-the-outside boxes.
Fabbri is also well known to sell syrups for personalizing ice creams, yogurts, fruit salads, coffee recipes and iced teas at home. There is a line called Mixybar for alcoholic drinks and Mixy Café just the thing to combine with cold coffee concoctions.
My final stop in my tour of gelatos was the supermarket, where I decided to purchase the only brand of gelato available known to me in pint size via the supermarket, Ciao Bella, a company that uses some of the Fabbri made products. Hazelnut was that flavor that I opted for. It was fine for a store bought pint and would probably settle for it if I were unable to buy it fresh. However, it didn’t compare to the freshness of the Fabbri made ilk. According to John Yodice, "most restaurants cannot handle gelato because they do not have a dedicated negative freezer nor a dipping cabinet. They usually have a regular freezer with other foods stored as well. Generally producers make higher fat content products to service supermarket freezers and restaurants. There is really nothing that can be added that adds shelf life to gelato."
Bob Bruno recently visited I Dream of Gelato requesting that Michelle enter her lemon-ginger gelato in next year’s convention. Last year I took a trip to Naples and the Amalfi Coast in Italy. It’s way too far for a gelato fix.
My conclusion is that since I’m not seeking to house a soft serve machine or pop over to Italy, I will have to wait until the next time that I visit Provincetown for my gelato fix. In the meantime, I will be dreaming of I Dream of Gelato.