Many people often wonder what’s the difference between Ice-cream and Gelato. Personally, we never even really knew the difference. Gelato just seems like the healthier Italian version of ice-cream, right?
Well, according to the World of ice-cream, the main difference between Ice-cream and Gelato is that ice-cream often has air whipped-in to allow for easier scooping and a softer texture. Fresh cream is also used when making ice-cream. On the other hand, Gelato has no air added to it and instead of cream, it uses fresh milk and egg yolks as their main ingredients. However, natural flavourings is a similarity between these two popular desserts. Gelato is typically considered healthier than ice-cream on the account that is uses less cream when it is made. (Hmmm, healthy ice cream – now you can get the best of both worlds )
Having acquired this new knowledge, we were definitely geared up for our visit to the newest branch of Alfero Gelato to try some high-quality Authentic Artisan Gelato for ourselves to see if we would be able to discern the difference.
Upon entering the shop, the first thing we noticed was that unlike any other typical Ice-cream/Gelato parlours, their Gelato isn’t displayed prominently in the display cabinets. This piqued our curiosity, and we made a mental note to ask about this later.
Before we get down to the Gelato, here is some background on the origins of Alfero Gelato: The owner of Alfero Gelato, Marco Alfero, is an Italian with a background in Accounting and Finance. He started as a finance manager in the semiconductor industry in Italy for more than 10 years. However, he’s love for Gelato prompted him to take on a professional approach to fuilfil his passion as he left his thriving finance career to enrol in the prestigious Gelato University of Carpigiani in Italy (hahah, who knew there was even a University specialized in Gelato!). Some years later, he came to Singapore on a business trip and fell right in love with the city-state’s weather, greenery and conducive environment for business. He decided to open his first Gelato cafe in Marina Square in September 2011 as he realised that Singapore would be a good market for true-blue Italian Gelato, given our love for unique desserts and quality ingredients. His other retail shop in MacPherson Lane – which is also a laboratory, not only where Gelato is freshly made daily, but also where he experiments with new flavours – was opened a month later.
Speaking to Christina from Dann’s Daily, who is a friend of Marco the owner and had introduced us to the Gelato cafe, we grew to understand the amount of dedication and passion that Marco brings to his business. Besides having a hand in making the Gelato daily in the laboratory attached to the shop in Macpherson Lane, Marco also emphasizes the quality of the ingredients that he uses in making the Gelato – to the extent that he imports premium ingredients from different parts of Italy and Europe to ensure that the ingredients he uses are only the best. Indeed, he is fearless and unapologetic of the time and effort required to make a single tub of Gelato. No short cuts.
Also, remember that covered gelato display? As it turns out, Marco decided to import pozzetto cabinets from Italy to store his Gelato, being the only store in Singapore to carry such traditional cabinets and practice such century-old method of storing Gelato. These cabinets are specially customized chillers to store the Gelato and ensures that the temperature is kept constant at an optimal degree in order for the Gelato to remain smooth and easy enough to scoop, instead of becoming too icy or frozen. Furthermore, as light and air can’t enter the chillers, the smooth, creamy and unmistakable taste in each bite of this truly Italian treat is further maintained.
The effectiveness of the pozzetto cabinets was evident when we watched the Gelato being scooped by the staff member. The obvious ease with which he scooped the Gelato was so different from the hacking/stabbing/dragging methods employed by staff members of so many other Ice-cream/Gelato parlours that we had previously observed.
Alfero Gelato also has a mobile version of the pozzetto, called the carretto. This mobile gelato cart carries up to 6 flavours of Gelato and caters to both public and private events (Eg. Weddings etc.) anywhere from between 50 to 500 guests!
Alfero Gelato carries 12 ‘standard’ flavours, such as Chocolate, Vanilla, Raspberry and Durian, across their 3 outlets, with special flavours introduced from time to time. The special flavours that day were Tiramisu and Avocado. Popular flavours include Pistachio, Nuts About You (Hazelnut, Almond, Nougat) and Bacio (Chocolate Hazelnut).
Waffles with Mango, Snow White (Pure Milk) and Nuts About You ($11.50). The waffles were pretty ordinary – cirspy on the outside and fluffy in the inside. Nothing to shout about but it was indeed a good vehicle for us to sponge up the Gelato goodness.
Single Scoop ($4.50 in a cup): Pistachio, Bacio, Tiramisu
Elisa particularly loved the Tiramisu and Bacio. Tiramisu had a distinct wine flavour, yet subtle and light enough for beginners. Bacio, on the other hand, was made with Dark Chocolate – not overly sweet, yet rich and satisfying at the same time. Also, there were bits and even chunks of hazelnuts all over! Zara’s favourite flavour was Pistachio as she enjoyed the nutty taste of it (It was extremely full-bodied, but maybe a little too strong for Elisa’s palate). We were extremely surprised with its colour as it wasn’t the bright green of Pistachio Ice-cream that we had gotten used to. It was more of a subtle green colour, almost white. We never really realised it but maybe the bright attractive colours of Ice-cream could be from food colouring.
The fruit flavours such as Mango, Raspberry and Passion Fruit Sorbet were all made with the actual fruit and no milk to cater to the lactose intolerant customers. Unique to all of them were their particularly bright colour, with even bits of the actual fruit in them!
The effectiveness of the pozzetto cabinets cannot be doubted as we enjoyed the smooth and creamy texture of the different flavours. It was testament to the lack of preservatives and artificial flavourings used in the making of the Gelato that it started melting almost immediately after being served to us. While this made for a messy Gelato-eating experience as we tried to eat them as fast as we could before it all melted, it was comforting to know that we were only ingesting natural ingredients – no powdered milk, fruit juice concentrates, additives, colouring agents etc.
Overall, a great Gelato-tasting experience with high-quality Gelato! While the location is abit out of the way, you could always visit the other 2 outlets that are slightly more accessible should you ever want to try some of the Gelato – which we highly recommend you do! (Elisa even bought a tub home) Truth be told, this experience has changed the way we look at other Ice-cream or Gelato parlours. We do admire the passion and dedication that Marco Alfero exudes when ensuring the quality and tastiness of his Gelato, and we’re sure that this is what keeps his customers always coming back for more!
After all, they don’t call this Italian Godfather of Gelato an Artisan for nothing!
21 Lor Kilat
#01-01 Sun Court, Singapore 598123
Many thanks to Christina for hosting the invite!
Posted in Dessert, Healthy, Invites, Italian, Quick/Easy, Snack, Vegetarian
Tagged dessert, food, Gelato, ice cream, italian, singapore
Spicy Thai-Thai Café is a kind of back alley dining at its best. Well, it is situated at the end of the road, after rows and rows, and blocks and blocks of hawker centers and food markets. And when you’ve finally come to the end of the road – and maybe start to wonder: Hmmm, I think I’m on the wrong track… – you’ll realize Spicy Thai-Thai café’s extremely noticeable signboard and immediately squeal in shock/delight for finally hitting on this hidden gem. “Where taste buds sing”, it says.
When we first walked in, we had initially thought that it was a food court and that we were in the wrong place – well, it certainly looks like one with its stands and round tables and plastic chairs. And at that moment when we finally realized that Spicy Thai-Thai Café’s signboard was just everywhere, a waiter came up to us and offered us a seat (Ok, now we can confidently and safely know that we’re in the correctly place).
Spicy Thai-Thai Café prides itself to offering authentic Thai food. No, not just the typical – slightly commercialized – Thai food that we would usually find in every corner of metropolitan Bangkok or even Chiang Mai, but Thai food at its purest, most local form – those that you find in the villages of Thailand. That said, there are some of the usual symbolic Thai dishes such as Pineapple fried rice and Pad Thai, but of course, done in accordance to the taste of Thailand. From the dried herbs and spices, to even the pot for the BBQ and the charcoal for cooking, almost everything is imported on a regular basis from Thailand.
The menu is absolutely extensive – salads, appetizers, soups, vegetables, fish, meat, noodles, rice, dessert etc. They also serve steamboat and Thai Mookata ($35). On top of that, they have more than 10 varieties of different Thai chili – from sweet to sour, from mild and friendly to extremely spicy – each of which provides a unique flavor and distinct dimension on its own. So imagine, not only would you face difficulties in choosing what to eat, but you’ll also have trouble in choosing which chili to go with your meal! Definitely commendable on their wide selection of food catering to a wide variety of taste buds.
But thanks to Christina who gave us a comprehensive description of each and every dish on the menu, we finally came to a decision and ordered our food.
Thai Iced Tea-O ($2.50). Traditionally in Thailand, this is made with strongly-brewed Ceylon tea – a red-leafed variety – complemented with condensed milk, giving it its bright amber colour. However, these authentic red Thai tea leaves are not only extremely expensive, but also rare to find outside of Thailand. As a result, many restaurants resort to using regular black tea with the addition of red food colouring. This however, was a distinctive Thai Iced Tea-O – a healthy version I would say. As the name suggests, this has no milk. Yet, it was able to retain that creamy texture, almost like a milk tea. Also, this uses the traditional tea leaves from Thailand with the addition of their homemade pandan syrup. The result is a fragrant drink that is not overly sweet. Not only was it refreshing, but also promising start to our meal! There’s nothing like a sweet, cold Thai Iced Tea as the perfect complement to the hot weather and spicy food.
Raw Long Beans Salad ($6). Raw long beans are usually hard, stalky and extremely crunchy, and so we were a little skeptical when Christina had said that this was a must try. But I’m glad we gave it a try as the long beans were definitely something different to our usual palates. However, I felt that the dish on a whole was a tad too sour. Maybe a little too much fish sauce/vinegar (I don’t know hahah)?
Clear Seafood Tom Yam Soup ($7). I can’t take spicy food. Yup as much as I’m an Indonesian, I can’t take chili. So imagine what happens whenever I have Tom Yam Soup – I sweat and blow my nose as if it’s a waterfall, literally. Hence, it is only logical that I avoid spicy food whenever I’m out in the public. However, as Christina had explained, the cure to a burning tongue is not ice. It is in fact the opposite – warm water is the best solution to cool down a burning tongue. Thus, Spicy Thai-Thai Café capitalizes on this piece information and serves Tom Yam Soup which not offers exceptional Thai flavours, but is also manageable by the customers in terms of its spicyness. This is only possible with the use of charcoal, which enabled the soup to keep simmering hot consistently, without affecting the quality of its flavor. It has a nice balance of hot and sour flavours, coupled with a generous serving of perfectly-cooked fresh seafood.
Hommok ($15): Otak in coconut husk. Now we don’t usually get these in Thai restaurants in Singapore. This isn’t a typical otak made of fish paste. Instead, this is actually egg and fish cooked with coconut milk in a coconut husk. Again, a healthy version I would say No flour. Yet, it was creamy and full-body, and the eggs were somewhat unique. Also, you could eat the fresh coconut meat! Extremely delicious.
Prawn Cake. This was hands down the best we had. There was no flour, but just prawns and egg to bind it all together. So you could imagine how substantial and clean it was – just prawns and nothing else, no cheating. Yumz
Spicy Meatballs ($12): Served with raw vegetables. This was not only a tad too dry for our liking, but also suffered from a lack of flavor. I couldn’t taste anything out of it, and I didn’t know what to either. It wasn’t spicy at all. Apparently you’re supposed to eat the meatballs with the raw vegetables together, but a little strange I guess as the vegetables evidently didn’t provide any flavor either and was maybe a little unnecessary on the plate. Maybe a sauce would do better justice to it.
BBQ Pork Neck ($10). This, I would say, is like an unconventional char siew. On the surface, it certainly seemed like char siew – with its BBQ sauce and flavor, and well, it’s pork! But it was slightly more tender and succulent than a typical char siew. And because it’s cut so thinly, we were constantly going back for more, piece by piece, because one was never enough
Pineapple Rice ($5). I love that there was a generous portion of floss, golden raisins and cashew nuts which provided the much needed texture. This was yummy of course, but again, how much could you go wrong with a simple dish like this? To me, this is like a comfort food of some sort Also, one of the best vegeterian dishes ever hahahahahahaha!
Seafood Hor Fun ($6). Instead of the traditional Pad Thai, we decided to go for the slightly different Thai-version Hor Fun. But honestly, I didn’t get how traditionally “Thai” this was as it was like any common Hor Fun dish you could find anywhere in Singapore. The only difference was that unlike the typical Hor Fun which is usually drowned with a thick sauce, this was the dry, stir-fried version. Unfortunately, this was under-salted and lacking in flavor.
Red Ruby ($2.50)
Lemongrass Jelly with Aloe Vera ($1.50)
Mango Sticky Rice
Desserts to end our meal on a sweet note. While both the Red Ruby and Lemongrass Jelly were especially effective in cooling off the heat, it was the Mango Stick Rice that stood out for me. The mango was sweet and delicate, and the rice was sticky and warm. And there was just the right amount of coconut milk to add just the right amount of sweetness to the dish. To top it all off, there was roasted fragrant sesame seeds which simply raised the enjoyment a bar higher than the rest.
Overall, Spicy Thai-Thai Café is worth the visit if you’re looking for affordable authentic Thai food. Founder and Owner Mr Ron Poh’s dedication to Thai food is distinctly manifested in the food that he prepares – one where quality reigns over quantity, where hard work reigns over compromised work.
Many thanks to Christina for hosting the invite!
Posted in Cafe, Dessert, Invites, Lunch, Quick/Easy, Thai, Vegetarian
Tagged aljunied, Cafe, food, singapore, thai, vegeterian