When it is hot in Italy, you want to order a “caffe freddo” (cold coffee) which is sort of like a coffee milkshake. It’s a bit confusing because it is not a “frappe” which is a different drink. I include a photo here so that you can see that a frappe is a coffee which is frothed to the point where it has a frappe/froth/head on top. A caffe freddo has milk added, a frappe does not.
When you see the slush machines spinning with coffee colored caffe freddo, you know that summer has arrived. A caffe freddo is different from an iced coffee or milkshake.
As an aside, the milkshakes in Italy are quite liquid and not unlike a caffe freddo except that they are not always as cold. Also, you can get a milkshake most of the year but caffe freddo is a summer thing.
Italians love pistachio gelato. The real deal is not neon green nor “flavor” — it’s actually pistachio nuts that have been ground and then mixed with the milk to make gelato. Having read about Crispini’s world champion gelato, we had to go.
In the Umbrian town of Spoleto, Crispini’s proudly display and sell their 2017 World Champion Pistachio Gelato.
We went. But, as neither my gelato-loving friend nor I like pistachio flavor, neither of us got it!
As we were eating our gelato outside, I said that as we had come all this way, we needed to try it. It was absolutely worthy of the accolades. The pistachio gelato tasted like fresh pistachio nut juice. If you can imagine what that would be like.
So if you are a fan of pistachio gelato, make Spoleto a destination on your next trip to Umbria. An added bonus is that Spoleto is a typical cute Umbrian town with a cute old part. They have elevators from the parking area which is practical.
Recently, some friends and I were discussing ice cream and gelato, again. One of my friends reminded me of that place in Denmark that we had visited… I was sure that I must have blogged about this place… But, somehow I had not. So now I will.
The ice cream place that is still on my mind is called Ismajeriet, and it now has two locations in Denmark.
One day, several years ago, when visiting Copenhagen, we were at a lunch party. After eating smoerrebroed (open faced sandwiches), a cooler tub was taken out of the freezer, and inside were four flavors of ice cream from Ismajeriet. It was so delicious that we had to visit the actual shop. My friend and I grabbed bicycles and off we went, in search of ice cream. This was a few years ago when the shop was located out among the summer houses of Amager, the island south of Copenhagen. The Ismajeriet (translates to “the ice cream dairy”) has a large selection, including sorbets. The style of the shop was in a retro design (a bit like an ice cream parlor of old) but the ice cream was fresh! I was delighted to see that they had many flavors, including licorice (I understand that licorice is an acquired taste but I acquired it a long time ago). The shop also has sorbets.
Why is this in my dreams? Because it was so creamy. The ice cream has a high fat content so it is creamy, really ice cream. Cream is the fat part of milk and fat on the tongue adds a creamy texture when it melts. In contrast, most gelato is made with milk. Gelato’s creaminess is derived from how it is made. Some gelato is actually ice cream (which must have a fat percentage of more than 3.5 percent). There are gelato shops where they will advertise that their plain flavor is “fiore di panna” (panna = cream) and not the usual “fiore di latte” which is the “milk flower.” Basically, calling something the “cream flower” is like saying that it is the “cream of the crock” — the best.
In Denmark, gelato is quite popular now, but the Danish style ice cream lives on in places like Ismajeriet. In Italy, one can add whipped cream on top of one’s gelato (most places will do it for free and it should be unsweetened freshly whipped cream). In Denmark, that is the norm. Another thing is that the Danes like to add a “floedebolle” on top. This “cream ball” is a meringue topped wafer covered in chocolate (the one in the photo has coconut flakes on it) that can be eaten on its own, or used as the cherry on top of the ice cream cone.
One thing that the Danes and Italians share in relation to their ice cream/gelato is that any time of the year and day is a good time to eat it. In Italy, gelato shops are some of the food shops that are open almost all day long, some open as early as 8 am and close after midnight.
As for Ismajeriet, I will be back some day to see if it is as good as in my dreams.
So here it is. My list of gelato shops to try in Rome. This is not the definitive list but I’m getting tired of trying gelato…
Gunther, Via dei Pettinari, 43: Gunther has three locations but this is where you will usually find him. He makes the best vanilla (from Madagascar) and his gelato is extremely creamy. He also lets you try lots of flavors until you find the ones that you want.
Gracchi, Via dei Gracchi, 272: old school but go early in the day when the gelato is fresh.
La Romana, various locations: big chain but still good gelato.
Neve di Latte, Via Federico Cesi, 1: two locations, and I’m fairly sure that the staff are hired for their looks.
Come il Latte, Via Silvio Spaventa, 24/26: I have a suspicion that this place was started by an American. Great affagato.
Otaleg, Via di S. Cosimato, 14a: famous place in Trastevere. The name is gelato backwards but the gelato is straightforward.
Frigidarium, Via del Governo Vecchio, 112: located on one of the most picturesque streets in Rome.
Fassi 1880, Via Principe Eugenio, 65-67: Oldest place in Rome. One of my favorites because it’s out of the tourist frenzy.
Gelati Gelati, Via Cicerone, 20: I’m fairly sure that this gelato is made by the gruff guy working here. The pear compote was unusual and the grittiness worked.
Cremilla, Via di Porta Castello, 39: Almost like soft serve. Near the Vatican.
I will probably write another article when I go to more places but as I’ve been to over 30 so far, I’m in need of a break from gelato.
Now that I’ve had my first American visitors, they suggest that I write about what they noticed while in Italy. They noticed three very different things…
Adults making love to their gelatos: This is what they really noticed. They said that it was not normal in the United States to see a grown adult in business clothes “making love” to an ice cream, while walking on the street. I have no photos of this so instead I include a photo of a gelato that I ate… while on the street. As you can see, gelato melts fast so you have to eat it fast.
Note that my gelato has “panna” or whipped cream on it. This is normal in Italian gelaterias. Another thing that is normal is that no matter how small your gelato, you will usually get two flavors.
Swastika graffiti: On the walls. In the United States, it would removed or painted over fairly quickly.
Five inch platform mules: On women. I guess it should be ten centimeter platforms since this is in Italy.
Freshly made warm tortilla in a the hand is the usual accompaniment to any meal in Mexico City.
I went to Mexico City, or the federal district of Mexico, to eat. I forgot that one has to do something with the hours in between. Well, actually, I forgot that a few million other people would want to visit Frida, along with the few hundreds we saw outside the museum. We failed to see the inside of Frida’s blue house. So if that is your intent, plan ahead. Or take your chances and wait a few hours in the hopes that you will get in. It gives you something to do between meals.
On to the food. We started on a Friday evening at El Progreso. Chopped everything short of the oink at one end and beef fillet at the other end.
The crew are friendly and happy to explain things to a tourist but also equally at ease serving up tacos by the doubles to the cops and security guards who are clearly regulars.
Go after dark. The nightlights and shadows add a drama to this taqueria that would be lost in the harsh light of day.
Then head to El Moro for a fried churro, but really, go for the ice cream. It’s served as one of the famous churro ice cream sandwiches, but I just scooped it out — it was sprinkled with speckles of vanilla dots.
Have their hot chocolate too. It’s a tradition. But, I was liked the ice cream. Call me a heathen!
For lunch, head downtown and eat at the Sanborns de los Azulejos. The building is made up of blue tile and hard to miss. If you eat in the salon on the Cinco de Mayo side, it’s got a soda fountain feel and very local. If you eat in the grand salon on the Francisco Madero, you will have a long wait but the pay off is eating in a GRAND HALL.
For dinner, try Lardo, for a feeling of being in Spain. Don’t get the deep fried green beans and you’ll be okay. Good cocktails and people watching.
Then for breakfast, eat at Forbidden Fruit. It’s located in a posh neighborhood with a nice park nearby. The juices are scrummy, as they are almost everywhere in Mexico, and the breakfast which is also good.
For lunch, go to Condesa Azul. It’s super upscale. Eat upstairs and you’ll feel like you’re eating in a glitzy tree house.
The Oaxacan ladies making tortillas are still the most beautiful part of an already pretty restaurant.
Try the mole. At the risk of being barred from Mexico forever, I’ll admit that moles are too sweet for me. I’m just not into them. But, I loved the fresh tortillas! Please let me back in!
Along the way, eat corn on the cob, spiced chips with lime, and sliced fruit with chili! If you need more, try the tacos in a basket (mainly to see what the hullabaloo is about), and if you must, go to Maison Kaiser for a French pastry.
In between, waddle over to the exhibits and dancers on the zocolo, the museum, and the folklore dancers at the Teatro de Bellas Artes.
Where is the best sushi in Dhaka? At Izumi. This is probably the leading Japanese restaurant in Dhaka. On road 119 or nearby.
Where is the best sashimi in Dhaka? If you want sashimi (raw fish), then go to Goong, the Castle (a Korean restaurant that does many seafood dishes, raw and cooked).
Where is the best Thai food in Dhaka? Pan Thao on road 12 in Banani. Thai Kitchen in Gulshan is okay too. There is a new Thai place in Banani (two parallel streets behind Banani Supermarket) called Luam that makes a few dishes that are passable as well… Thai food is one of those ubiquitous cuisines you find advertised everywhere in Dhaka (along with Chinese and Italian).
Best steak? Goong. Even though it’s a Korean restaurant, they have imported beef there including Kobe beef (also called Wagyu — the famous Japanese breed of cows that get fed beer and get massages). The Steakhouse also has good steak. As does Diner 360 which has a bargain price as well.
Best Korean? Goong, the Castle.
Where is the most romantic restaurant in Dhaka? Mermaid Cafe has a few booth cabanas. Spaghetti Jazz has candles (well most do) and is dark. Panini in Banani has seating arrangements that allow for canoodling. See question below.
Where should I take my wife for our anniversary dinner? Le Souffle (it’s fancy and French), Spitfire, Saltz, Soi 71, Panini, Goong, Steakhouse. The restaurants in the Westin are expensive but they are romantic.
Which restaurant is best for taking children? Soi 71, Diner 360, Goong all have play areas or rooms for children. Istanbul has a castle for children.
Where is the best pizza in Dhaka? For American style, La Forchetta and Pizza Hut. For Italian thin style, Spaghetti Jazz and Bella Italia.
Where is the best burger in Dhaka? Have not found one I could eat all of but some like American Burger and the one at Panini was not as bad as I thought it would be.
What is the best ice cream in Dhaka? Movenpick.
Best cafe to hang out in? Northend Coffee Roasters, Cafe Italiano, Roll Express, Gloria Jeans
Where can I get the best dessert in Dhaka? Movenpick (eat in the cafe), Mr. Baker, King’s Confectionery.
Best bakery? King’s Confectionery, Mr. Baker, Do Mi Ok, Northend Coffee Roasters, and Bellagio.
Where are there nachos in Dhaka? Panini.
Where is the best fruit juice in Dhaka? Panini (ask for no added sugar, watch them make it in the sound muffling room), Roll Express, Saltz, and most places.