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Gelato from the Old School

Fine Cooking Issue 39
Photos: Judi Rutz
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Master gelatiere Tommaso Affaldano has been serving up artful scoops of his Italian ice cream since the middle of the last century. But only since 1995, when he left his native Italy for Lookout Farm in Natick, Massachusetts, have Americans had the chance to sample his delicious handiwork. His dairy-based gelati (tiramisu and gianduja flavors, among others) are dense, creamy, and scant in butterfat—they contain no cream or eggs, just local organic milk—which makes them more about flavor intensity than richness. His fruit gelati contain no dairy at all, but they somehow combine the crisp, focused flavor of sorbet with the luxurious mouth feel of the smoothest ice cream. The key, says Tommaso as he tenderly rinses grit from a colander of raspberries, is to stay true to the old techniques and “to always respect the fruit.”

Great fruit gelato begins with fresh fruit.
After sorting through and measuring (by eye) a pile of just-picked raspberries, Tommaso purées the fruit with a sugar syrup using an oversize hand-held immersion blender.
He pours the mixture into a small, open-top gelato machine (circa 1975), whose spiral blade scrapes the raspberry mixture from the sides of a revolving canister. More often than not, a larger, newer, and more automated freezer sits dormant in the back room. Tommaso says the old machine gives him more of a hand in the process.
During the 15 minutes of freezing, the gelato thickens and pales as air is whipped in, but it’s still much denser than American ice cream. Tommaso uses an oar-like paddle to give an occasional stir and to move the 11-lb. batch to a serving tray.


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