Sunday, August 26, 2007

Gelato Weekend and Battle Grom

8/25/07, 3pm
O, fresh off the red eye from LA, is purchasing water while be and i are clutching our large cooler in front of the case at the 13th St Capogiro. As a surprise birthday gift for Tiff, we purchase 4 pints, which are kindly wrapped up with dry ice to survive the drive up to New York. Pints: 2 Ananas con Menta (pineapple mint), 1 Pesca Giallo (peach), 1 half Uva (grape) and half Fico Nero (black fig).

8/25/07, 7pm
Damn, dry ice really works! The pints were still frozen and safe. C lets us transfer the pints to her freezer. For a short trip, regular ice in a cooler is totally fine, but we found that if you ask nicely (and if they have it that day), dry ice is the way to go for any transport over an hour.

8/25/07, 7:30pm
Upper West Side boo! The only reason we're up there is to sample the famed Grom. This New York City outpost is the only one outside of Italy. Bloggers and reviewers admit to waiting in long lines and paying exorbitant prices to have "real gelato," and we wanted to see what the hype was all about. From their website:

In January 2005, they invested in a production workshop suitable to meet the demands of the other Grom shops that opened that same year. The goal is always the same: to offer the very best. The liquid mixtures are checked by a team of experts and then distributed 3 times a week, just like fresh milk, to each shop, where they are creamed ... Grom, on the other hand, is only and exclusively interested in the organoleptic quality of fruit, since our philosophy bars the use of flavorings, colorings or preservatives, nor are we interested in appearance or preservability (since we only work with fresh fruit).

I couldn't find any information about the milk used, nor anything about their gelato-making process except:

Gelato made in this way, using only carob flour as a very noble thickening agent, requires a longer and more difficult processing by our operators at the counter: you will forgive us if you find yourself waiting a couple of minutes more for your gelato, as you will be sure to enjoy a product made according to a very natural and rigorous process.

First off, the line was moving very slowly. The 4 or 5 guys behind the counter seemed disorganized even though there weren't that many flavors. A large sign outside announced "August Flavors" and there were about 20 listings, all your basic classic Italian ones with only 5 fruit-based ones! Next, the prices were quite high considering the stinginess of the servings. O's tiny cup of hazelnut and chocolate barely rose above the lip of the cup ($4.75). be's cone of fiordilatte with mint was about the same size, perhaps a tad larger ($4.75). The group ahead of us got two small "Grom To Go" styrofoam cups and they were mounded just barely above the cup, even though the foam top was domed and obviously made for a large scoop ($8.00). We all noted that the large Grom To Go foam box cost $24.00, and it probably amounted to a pint and a half's worth!

Finally, to the gelato. We all ate slowly to really think about it. We all agreed it was good. Good but overrated. Very, very overrated. It was much thinner and icier than the smooth creaminess found at Capogiro. be claimed that his sample of peach was "like a plain old Italian ice." The flavors were substantially more subtle as well. This usually is not a problem except that the flavor of the milk really came through. Unfortunately, the milk flavor reminded me of a refrigerator gallon from childhood! We also noticed that the gelato was "stretchier" - perhaps from the carob flour thickener? In sum, good but not worth the price, the long lines and definitely not deserving of the praise. In New York, i'd rather go to Il Laboratorio or just wait to get back to Philadelphia for the real deal at Capogiro.

8/25/07, 8:10pm - 8/26/07, 1:15am
While in the car, we appoint codenames to some members of this group blog:

O = The Sniffer. He finds the hidden gems. He also uses his nose for evil.
be = Tears. Capogiro affects his emotional state. Has cried due to disappointment.
Tiff = Turnpike. What separates her from her love? The Jersey Turnpike!
me = Sugar. I'm not sure why they decided to call me this. Maybe cause i need to go to the dentist?

8/26/07, 3:20am
We forget to give The Sniffer some of the Thai Icea Tea gelato in our freezer! He's never sampled an excellent batch and Tears has been saving his pint for a special occasion.

8/27/07, 1:00pm
Turnpike is really excited about her birthday gift! I hope she documents how long they take to consume.

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