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! 🙂