3 unique gelato joints to try this week

In a sea of new gelato joints, we pick out three unique entrants. One is helmed by an Italian gelato university instructor, another by a master yogi and the third offers “hybrid gelato” in Singapore’s first DIY ice cream cookie sandwich store.

1. +39 Gelato Bar
1. +39 Gelato Bar
13 Apr 2015

1. +39 Gelato Bar

#01-01, 29 CIRCULAR RD, S049385.
TEL: 6532-0380. OPEN DAILY EXCEPT SUN 11AM–11PM. LAST ORDERS AT CLOSING. WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/PLUS39GELATO

Warning: The gelato here is so good, the only appropriate response is to… cuss. Native Italian owner Jacopo Quaglia, 44, an instructor at the Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna, enjoys sharing anecdotes about how his gelato makes people lose all sense of decorum. “I should come up with a flavour called ‘Oh, s***!’ That’s what a lot of people say when they taste my gelato.” He isn’t kidding. ’Cos we’re one of them.
 

1. +39 Gelato Bar
1. +39 Gelato Bar
13 Apr 2015

1. +39 Gelato Bar

The scoop: Located in the heart of Boat Quay, three-week-old +39 (that’s Italy’s area code) may have sounded the death knell for all its competitors. You won’t see any gelato on display when you step into the stylish, spacious 40-seater joint. If not for the giant plastic cone outside, you’d think you were in a regular café. In place of the usual display freezer, there are eight adorable mini gelato churners behind the counter. And this is where the magic happens, that makes the gelato here smoother than the average specimen.

Traditional gelato, Jacopo tells us, involves freezing and refreezing the mixture at different temperatures. This causes ice crystals to form. With these machines — the only ones available in Singapore — “the gelato is churned, frozen and stored within each device. It is not moved from the kitchen to display so there’s no change in temperature,” says Jacopo, who runs the place with a fellow Italian Carpigiani Gelato Uni alum. And that’s the secret to the ultra silky texture of the gelato here. Freshness is also key. In less than 10 minutes, the machines churn out small batches of the Italian dessert up to thrice daily. 

1. +39 Gelato Bar
1. +39 Gelato Bar
13 Apr 2015

1. +39 Gelato Bar

Lick this: The mouth feel of the frozen treat is so velvety and the flavours so intense, it’ll make your toes curl. We love the rich and earthy notes of the Pistachio (from $5.50 a small cup) made with Italian nuts and milk. It’s like spreading chilled, smooth pistachio butter onto your tongue. The sultriness of the dark French Chocolate is also to die for. Even sorbets like the Mango are ridiculously creamy and not icy.

Need some buzz? Try a Gelato Cocktail ($14), like a refreshingly sweet and sour (above) Frozen Spritz (Aperol sorbet doused in prosecco). If you’re really adventurous, drop by on Wednesday when Jacopo experiments with savoury options like guacamole gelato served with nacho chips!

Bottom line: You’ll never look at gelato the same way again.
 

Q&A with a gelato professor
Q&A with a gelato professor
13 Apr 2015

Q&A with a gelato professor

8 DAYS: How did you become a gelato university instructor?
JACOPO QUAGLIA: I was in the mechanical industry for 15 years before going into F&B. I was going through a midlife crisis after my divorce in 2012. Some people buy big motorbikes, some go parachuting, I learned how to make gelato and opened a shop overseas. Trust me, it’s more dangerous than parachuting, especially in an expensive country like Singapore! I enrolled as a student at Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna two years ago. Then I worked in gelato shops across Europe before returning as a coach at the uni for a few months. I specialised in sorbets in the four-week course. From July, Carpigiani will offer a basic one-week gelato course at At-Sunrice culinary school in Singapore, where I will also teach part-time.

Why set up shop in Singapore?
There are 37,000 gelato shops in Italy. The ratio is one shop per 1,650 people. In Singapore, you have one gelato shop per 65,000 people. And Singapore is the hub for F&B in South-east Asia.

Several Singaporeans have enrolled in the gelato university in Bologna and opened their own shops here. What do you think of them?
Taste is subjective — who am I to judge? But places like Momolato are doing a great job of spreading the message of gelato in Singapore. That said, at the university, we only teach standard recipes ’cos no one is going to give you their special recipes! Yes, you can become a gelato maker in four weeks, but if you only follow those basic recipes, you’re no different from the other 4,000 students from around the world. You still need to learn how to create your own flavours.

2. 33SixtyEight
2. 33SixtyEight
13 Apr 2015

2. 33SixtyEight

#01-07 BLK 8 JLN BATU S431008. TEL: 6225-3368 OPEN DAILY EXCEPT MON 12pm-10pm. LAST ORDERS AT CLOSING. WWW.33SIXTYEIGHT.COM.SG

Tucked away in a quaint old housing estate in the Mountbatten area, this fortnight-old 30-seat dessert joint is opened by F&B biz virgin Jolin Cho, 32, an IT accounts manager-turned-master yogi-turned-gelato maker.

“When I enrolled at Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna (nope, she didn’t train under +39’s Jacopo Quaglia), I had no intention of opening my own gelato shop. I just did the course for fun. It was two-and-a-half weeks long and we learnt everything about gelato and how to formulate our own recipes.”

So why is the hot yoga master and part-time instructor (who won the Singapore National Yoga Sports Championship in 2014) dishing out cold desserts? “When I started teaching yoga, it made me happy to share that experience with others. Similarly, gelato is also something that makes others happy and I enjoy sharing that with people,” says Jolin.
 

2. 33SixtyEight
2. 33SixtyEight
13 Apr 2015

2. 33SixtyEight

The scoop: The cartoony motifs and clean white interior of 33SixtyEight (“That’s the number my family uses for everything, from our house to car license plates”) may exude a modern, western vibe, but the offerings are distinctly local and old-school. The joint boasts freshly-made gelato (from $3.60 for a single scoop) infused with familiar ingredients like Horlicks (Eeny Meeny Miley Hor) and Milo (Milosarus). It also serves the gelato on waffles and in between traditional baked breads from Sembawang Bakery. “We’re not simply targeting the hipster crowd,” says Jolin. “The demographic here is really quite old. Some of our customers come in their pyjamas and are so weak they can’t even open our front door. But they enjoy our gelato.”

2. 33SixtyEight
2. 33SixtyEight
13 Apr 2015

2. 33SixtyEight

Lick this: We appreciate the pun-ny names like the banana-flavoured “You Had Me At Yellow”. While the flavours aren’t too bad (the whisky and espresso “Chillax On The Rocks” will awaken your senses), the texture of the gelato itself is icy and not very smooth. They fare much better when paired with baked goods like a thick, fluffy Waffle ($8.60 with single scoop).

Inspired by an Italian gelato breakfast sandwich, the Bun Bun Bomb ($6), sprinkled with Milo powder, seals a scoop of gelato within a sweet old-fashioned bun. It’s a nice balance of hot and cold, and the warmed up bread is pleasantly fluffy combined with the gelato.

The bestseller here is the Miss Coconut ($6.60). A fragrant but unfortunately too-icy scoop of coconut sorbet sits inside a Thai coconut husk. Let it melt a bit to thicken the coconut water for a slushy, refreshing shake. The rest of the coconut water is served in a tall glass on the side.

Bottom line: If you like local treats like Milo peng, then you will probably appreciate the desserts here.
 

3. In-Between
3. In-Between
13 Apr 2015

3. In-Between

#02-21 BUKIT PANJANG PLAZA, 1 JELEBU RD, S677743. TEL: 9137-7548.
OPEN DAILY 10AM-10PM. LAST ORDERS AT CLOSING. WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/INBETWEENSINGAPORE

Singapore’s first build-your-own-ice-cream-sandwich store in a heartland mall in Bukit Panjang hawks the ang moh version of our very own ice cream wafer sandwich. Sometimes nicknamed “sammies” in the US, ice cream cookie sandwiches have been around in the States since the 1800s.

This takeaway joint was started by pals Kevin Pratesa, a Californian-born former engineer, and Sam Lee, the owner of Singapore’s froyo chain Yoguru, both 39. “You see a lot of gourmet cookie players and artisanal ice cream shops in Singapore, but not many that combine the two,” says Sam. “We’re also different from our competitors (we think they mean Ice Cream & Cookie Co and Pat and Stick’s) ’cos our gelato hybrid ice cream and American-style chewy cookies are freshly made and assembled in-house, not pre-packaged. Sometimes we’ll even bake a new batch of cookies every hour,” explains Kevin.
 

3. In-Between
3. In-Between
13 Apr 2015

3. In-Between

The scoop: The two-month-old takeaway kiosk is modelled after old-school American diners and features an ice cream display freezer on one side and a cookie display on the other. “Most Singaporeans aren’t familiar with ice cream sandwiches. They think we’re selling the products separately, so it takes some education. But once they get it, it gets fun ’cos they can mix and match whatever combinations they like, whether it’s two different cookie flavours or two different ice cream flavours.” says Kevin. With 11 flavours of ice cream ($3.80 a scoop) and 11 types of cookies ($3 per pair) to play with, dessert fiends will have a blast eating their way through the menu to find their perfect combi. Don’t worry about having to trek all the way to Bukit Panjang to get your sammie fix, though. There are “aggressive” plans to open more outlets around the island soon.

Not pre-assembled: What’s nice about the ice cream cookie sandwiches here is that the cookies aren’t the usual limp, soggy specimens you find in pre-packaged versions. Instead, they are chewy yet faintly crunchy. They go well with the ice cream, which isn’t cloyingly sweet but rich and creamy, yet quite light. According to Kevin, the ice cream “is a hybrid of gelato and typical American-style ice cream. We use quality ingredients and incorporate less air into the ice cream. Less air means more flavour.” And it’s all made in a top-of-the-line gelato machine from Italy costing a six-figure sum.

3. In-Between
3. In-Between
13 Apr 2015

3. In-Between

Lick this: We thoroughly enjoyed the pairing of a pillowy cinnamon sugar-dusted Snickerdoodle cookie with Himalayan Salted Caramel ice cream. The fragrant punch from the cinnamon harmonised with the sweet and salty ice cream wonderfully. The gently spicy Gingerbread cookie went down well with lightly savourly Mascarpone ice cream, as did the Banana ice cream with a Red Velvet cookie. The smallish sammies are served in a paper sleeve like a burger and things will get messy — the ice cream melts really fast. If you don’t want sticky hands, order a “crumble sammie” where the cookie is crumbled and served with ice cream in a paper cup, or a deconstructed “open-faced sammie”, both eaten with a spoon.

Bottom line: A tastier alternative to the pre-packed ice cream cookie sarnie offerings in the market now. You can’t beat the thrill of mixing and matching flavours and biting into a freshly baked cookie.
 

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