List 099: Reg’s great ice cream and gelato tour of Melbourne, 2013 to 2014

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Food

Dairy-free sorbets, frozen yogurts, bombes and ice cream sandwiches not welcome here.

*****
Gelato Messina
237 Smith St, Fitzroy
Flavours tasted: Salted caramel and white chocolate | Vanilla | Milk chocolate with choc peanut fudge | Poached figs in Marsala
My rating: 5 out of 5

This is top of the line. Número Uno. The A-student. The box-ticker. The one ring to rule them all. Flavour combos are creative and well-balanced and the textures are perfectly creamy. It’s the only gelato that can compare to the mind-blowingly delicious home-made ice cream I had from a bakery in the middle of nowhere in Paros, Greece. (Even just thinking about it is making my tongue have a little orgasm.) This is the one to beat folks!

Gelato Messina

Photo from themoderncon.com

*****
Helados Jauja
254 Lygon Street, Carlton
Flavours tasted: Black sesame | Ginger spice | Goat’s cheese | Salted caramel | Salted chocolate
My rating: 4.5 out of 5

The first thing the super perky, almost-too-friendly server told me was that it takes three days to make the black sesame ice cream. “We grind our own organic black sesame seeds,” she said proudly. And indeed it tasted of perfection, the kind that only comes from OCD-like commitment to process and craft. The rest of the flavours exceeded my expectations too; I am definitely going back for that indescribably tasty goat’s cheese ice cream (I know goat’s cheese and ice cream sound wrong in one sentence, but trust me, you just have to take the leap of faith with this one!). The only reason why I shaved half a point off it from earning a perfect score was that I’d already made two rounds at Gelato Messina and the texture of HJ‘s just wasn’t as perfect. But other than that, olé olé olé for Argentinian ice cream!

Helados Jauja

Photo from Gastro-logy.com.au

*****
Gelateria Primavera
157 Spring Street, Melbourne
Flavours tasted: Chilli salted caramel | Pistachio, turmeric and cardamom | Peach and basil
My rating: 4.5 out of 5

In Italy, the way to tell that a gelateria is a good one is if they store their gelato at the counter unexposed in pozzetti cases (the ones with the metal lids). This is all well and good, but for me, a large part of the joy of eating ice cream comes from the kid-in-candy-store experience: being able to say “I want that one, that one and that one” without even really knowing what they are. The wanna-be fussy food connoisseur is still definitely there, but takes a back seat. And as someone who, more often than not, eats with her eyes rather than her stomach (we call it takaw-tingin in Filipino), my inner child was a wee bit disappointed when I found Gelateria Primavera all pozzetti-ed up. The disappointment didn’t last very long though. The gelato was fresh and the flavour balance was spot on. Best gelateria in the CBD in my opinion.

Primavera

Photo from atablefortwo.com.au

*****
Movenpick
QV, corner Russell and Lonsdale Streets, Melbourne CBD
Flavours tasted: Swiss chocolate | Caramelita | Maple walnut | Vanilla
My rating: 4 out of 5

One cannot seriously talk about ice cream without mentioning the Swiss. The flavours and combos are simple and classic but done extremely well. Nothing beats the great staples like Chocolate with seriously delicious chunky chocolate bits or a smooth, spicy, comforting Vanilla.

By the way, I’ve made a conscious effort to include one caramel or salted caramel in each place that I’ve visited. It’s my barometer of whether a place is good or not — if the caramel is too sweet, then I’ll immediately know that the rest of the flavours aren’t going to be great. It’s worked perfectly every time!

*****
The Lab
188 Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD
Flavours tasted: Chocolate brownie | Salted caramel popcorn
My rating: 3.5 out of 5

I was curious to see what this nitrogen gelato lark was all about and to see if it was anything at all like the real stuff. The short answer is: it isn’t. The flavour of the gelato itself was alright but it relies on the toppings to give it that extra lift. In my world, that’s like putting a band-aid over fourth degree burns. I ordered the Salted caramel popcorn despite thinking that combining two of my favourite foods in one cup was sacrilege. But surprise, surprise, the two really worked together! Until you finish all the popcorn on top and are left with 3/4 of a cup of something that is reminiscent of soft serve ice cream. I’ve given it a 3.5 for creativity, but as one of my friends aptly described the nitrogen gelato making process, “it’s like cooking in a microwave!” It just ain’t the real deal.

*****
N2 Extreme Gelato
329 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Flavours tasted: Milk gelato with miso and peanut
My rating: 3.5 out of 5

The same spiel above would apply to this place really, but flavour combinations here are much more creative than The Lab’s — French earl grey dulce de leche, sour cream chocolate, Christmas punch, among others. I may give this place one more go to see if any of the Heston-esque combos rock my world, but until then, nitrogen gelato will be neatly filed in my brain under the “all form and a tiny bit of substance” category.

*****
Seven Eleven
Everywhere on the planet
Ice creams tasted: Street’s limited edition chocolate truffle Magnum | Connoisseur’s Madagascan vanilla ice cream stick
My rating: 3.5 out of 5

For me, there is always something exciting about eating ice cream on a stick. It brings back memories of Magnolia Ice Cream’s Twin Popsies at the beach, hurriedly devoured so I could find out whether there was a prize waiting for me on the stick. I never won anything, but the stick would make a great flagpole for the sand castle I had spent hours designing.

Every time I have a Magnum these days, I still check to see whether or not I’d won anything. The 3.5 rating is not only there for sentimental reasons though. It’s pretty damn good ice cream and if it weren’t for the plethora of E numbers on the label, I would certainly be eating these more often!

Connoisseur

Photo from neateats.com.au

*****
Passionflower
2/168 Bourke St, Melbourne CBD
Flavours tasted: Burnt caramel |  Black sesame | Sticky rice | Taro | Adzuki red bean
My rating: 3 out of 5

This failed The Caramel Test straight off the bat, but this Asian had to find out what the hell sticky rice ice cream tasted like. It was… weird. And had bits of rice that was difficult to chew. Sticky rice is just one of those things that shouldn’t really be messed with. The taro and adzuki bean were better and the black sesame was pretty good but not as good as Helados Jauja‘s. Overall, I gave them a 3 for having a lash at something different but one visit from me is all they’re gonna get.

*****
Jock’s
83 Victoria Ave, Albert Park
Flavours tasted: Jamaican rum raisin | Cinnamon | Hokey-pokey | Chocolate | Caramel
My rating: 2.5 out of 5

I really really wanted to like their ice creams. I truly did. Everyone had been harping on about how amazing it was. I even went twice thinking I’d just missed something, but i really should’ve known better from the glum results of The Caramel Test the first time ’round. The award-winning chocolate was pretty good, but Movenpick and The Lab had similar and perhaps slightly better choc ice creams. Because it was Christmas time and I was in a Christmas cake mood, I ordered the rum and raisin and thought it was ok. Nothing special. The real disappointment was the cinnamon — I took one bite and CRUUUNCH! There was a chunk of ice in it!! A few bites later, more ice!! Any frozen dessert afficionado knows that ice in ice cream is a huge no-no; it means that the ratio of cream is all out of whack. Epic fail, Jock’s, epic fail.

Jocks

Photo from fiveofthebest.com

*****
Pidapipo (pop-up shop)
222 Faraday Street, Carlton
Flavours tasted: Salted caramel | Milk, banana and cinnamon
My rating: 2.5 out of 5

Ok ok, I went in because I found them on Broadsheet and thought their branding was cute. Classic case of moth-to-a-flame. When I was there, the flavour choices deserved a mere “meh”, and the more exciting flavours I read about like Vietnamese mint or pinacolada weren’t on offer. Despite the pozzetti, it failed The Caramel Test. It had that really sharp sugary taste in the front of your mouth from when you eat caramel that’s too sweet. I’ll probably go back at some point to give it another go because the texture was quite good and I seem to be the only one unimpressed by this gelateria. But I’ll say it again: “meh”. I’m bored even writing about them.

*****
Trampoline
381 Brunswick St, Fitzroy and elsewhere
Flavours tasted: Chocolate therapy | After dark | Vanilla | Caramel pear | Christmas pudding
My rating: 2.5 out of 5

I read about how life-changing Trampoline’s caramel pear sorbet would be, so I made an exception to my “no sorbets allowed” rule and had it. Not only did it score miserably on The Caramel Test, I’m still the same cynical, ice cream-gorging muppet I always was. However, Chocolate Therapy turned out to be therapeutic indeed; it was a rich, thick, creamy blob of yumminess with just the right amount of sweetness to it. I was impressed by the chocolate range, but the rest of the flavours were way too sugary for my liking. Would I go back? Maybe. But truth be told, I’d rather walk the extra 5 minutes it would take me to get to Smith Street for much better quality gelato!

Trampoline

Photo from /www.celebratesouthgate.com.au

*****
Fritz Gelato
South Melbourne Markets and elsewhere
Flavours tasted: Salted caramel  | Caramelised fig and roasted almond
My rating: 2 out of 5

One sure fire way to get me to buy a food item is to slap a “Certified Organic” label on it and adorn it with reputable food show medals. So Ms Moth-to-a-Flame made a beeline for Fritz’s stall at the South Melbourne markets and ordered the Flavour of the Month, Salted Caramel, and the award-winning Caramelised Fig and Roasted Almond. Sadly, it didn’t really perform as well as I expected — both were way too sweet. I still refuse to believe that anything that’s won so many awards can be so unbalanced, so in the words of The Terminator, “I’ll be back!”

Fritz Gelato

Photo from urbanspoon.com

*****
Brunetti
214 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD and in too many other locations
Flavours tasted: Hazelnut | Vanilla | Caramel
My rating: 0.5

I’m actually quite embarrassed to admit that I even set foot in this place, but it was a 40-degree day and I had been panicking over the husband’s Christmas present for the past hour and a half. I needed something cold and sweet… FAST! So lo and behold, the ubiquitous Brunetti script appeared and I tucked into the overly sweet, water-thin, icy mess that they call gelato. Ick. Never again. Note to self: during the next bout of mental and physical turmoil, water will be a better option.

Brunetti

Photo from crunchybottoms.wordpress.com

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: List 102: The largely unsuccessful frozen yoghurt tour of Melbourne, 2014 | An Obsession with Stuff

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