Today, which also happens to be Mother's Day, my husband and daughter walked me downtown to Republic Square Park for the Gelato World Tour! Yes, that's a real thing.
If you're not familiar, gelato has less fat and air than ice cream, but most importantly (to me) it's served at a higher temperature. If you're someone who likes to let your ice cream melt a bit before you eat it, then you'd love gelato. Because of the higher temperature and less air, it "tastes" creamier (i.e. less crystallization) and, to me, more decadent.
The Gelato World Tour is what it sounds like, a chance to educate people about gelato, and it also has a competition element. Although admission is free, to get 5 tasting tickets is $10 (I got a bonus, I suppose because I'm a mother? or pregnant? I didn't ask questions!), and at the end, you use your ticket stub to vote for your favorite.
Here are some of the flavors I sampled:
Raspberry Beet from Bent Spoon Gelato in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Pretty straightfoward, flavor-wise. The raspberry was dominant, and the beet gave it the very beautiful color and a depth beyond just a berry-fruity flavor. I think it's raspberry enough that a kid would like it, though.
This was a delightful pistachio gelato, but it wasn't part of the competition. The booth had a "Hello Kitty" flavor that looked like maybe vanilla (or white chocolate) gelato with some cherry or raspberry jam swirls. They also had a chocolate that Daphne got, and after she ate that cup, she said she was full, so James and I each got one extra ticket!
Goat cheese cashew caramel from Black Dog Gelato in Chicago. This was another very balanced flavor: sweet, but not too sweet.
Profumi di Silicia. This was from the Versace Galeteria Italiana in Doral, Florida, and we had such high hopes for it. The ingredients included nougat, ricotta cheese canoli, pistachio grains, and chocolate chips. As a footnote, it mentions "lightly flavored with orange zest" and swirled with caramel. However. The main flavor that came through was orange zest. Not in an "I'm an awesome foil to dark chocolate" way, either. It was bitter and totally eclipsed the caramel or chocolate or pistachio and definitely the mild ricotta. Oh well.
Sweet G's Candied Bacon from Sweet Ginger's Gelato in Fort Myers, Florida. This one delivered on its promise. The tiny bits of candied bacon added a smoky contrast and textural difference to the creamy gelato. There was also the nice additional flavor boost from some cinnamon. Delicious.
This was James' turtle gelato from The Turtle Gelateria in Brownwood, Texas. It's only 2 hours from here, but since we just drove through it last week on the last leg of our 900+ mile road trip, we're going to hold off visiting for a while. James and Daphne tried several other flavors that I didn't: Chocolate Guinness Caramel Crunch (which James said I would have hated, what with my not liking beer in general and probably stout specifically; he enjoyed it, though); Carmastachio, which was marscapone swirled with caramel and pistachio; and Nuts, peanut butter and chocolate hazelnut. Fortunately, that last one was from here in Austin, so I can try it some time!
I can't wait to see who won!