Thursday, June 9, 2016

What’s Trending in Ice Cream (and in all dairy, in all food): Worldly Flavors

As the American palate grows more adventurous, global flavors are making their way onto menus of all restaurant types and sizes, as confirmed by a panel of renowned chefs and restaurant owners at the recent National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. And, as we all know, what starts in foodservice soon makes its way into packaged foods for the retail sector. This includes dairy foods, with ice cream leading the way.

A point that stood out during the culinary panel discussion was that the flavor trend should not be referred to as “ethnic,” as this is actually insulting to true culinary professionals. Rather, the term “worldly” is preferred, which was emphasized by Ming Tsai, a celebrity chef and an innovator of Asian-European fusion cuisine. He explained that many of today’s cuisines are based on traditional recipes using authentic cooking methods, and fuse in personal culinary touches that build on flavors to create worldly flavors…not ethnic cuisine, rather worldly cuisine.

Worldly flavors are making their way into frozen dairy desserts, as well as all dairy, most notably creamy desserts and yogurt. This was confirmed at the Gelato World Tour, which served 9,000 pounds of 16 varieties of artisan gelato in Chicago’s Millennium Park over Memorial Day weekend. Thousands, myself included, visited the event to taste the best flavors of gelato in the Americas-East. More than 78,000 cups and mini-cones were served. The gelatos were created by 16 different teams competing for the title of “World’s Best Gelato–Americas East.”

To read more about the event, link HERE to a Food Business News article.

The event was preceded earlier in the week by Carpigiani Gelato University, a gelato-making course hosted by Kendall College Culinary Arts School, Chicago, and taught by Luciano Ferrari, frozen dessert technologist at Carpigiani, Italy. The intense training course ended with a six-course meal at Piccolo Sogno, Chicago. The restaurant’s chef Tony Priolo, and Ferrari, teamed up to create unique sweet or savory gelatos that paired with everything from truffle risotto to braised short ribs to chocolate-covered strawberries. View a Food Business News slide show HERE to get a taste of the pairing menu.

The 16 products served at the Gelato World Tour all have a worldly flavor profile, with many of them possessing hints of floral or savory. Note that many of the concepts tell a story, while others combine comfortable flavors with the unfamiliar.

The first place winner--Amor-acuyá--was created by Daniela Lince Ledesma of Dolce Gelato, Medellìn, Colombia. This exotic gelato combined three different sensations: South American passion fruit, which has a sour and sweet taste that binds with the cream; a homemade passion fruit variegate to enhance aroma; and a 65% Colombian chocolate that delivers a strong contrast with its bittersweet taste.

Coming in second was Chicago Pothole, created by Angelo Lollino and Ali Caine Hung of Vero Coffee & Gelato, Elmwood Park, Ill. In this fresh take on the classic rocky road flavor, the chefs used a single-origin heirloom cocoa from Ecuador. It was emulsified then variegated with a nutty chocolate sauce consisting of roasted and caramelized pecans, dark chocolate chunks and marshmallow-inspired meringue. The flavor was a tribute to the pothole-infested rocky roads Chicagoans are too familiar with after a long, brutal winter.

The third place winner, Tammy Giuliani of Stella Luna Gelato Café, Ottawa, Canada, also gave a nod to Chicago in her creation made with Koval-brand single-barrel organic bourbon. Koval was the first distillery to be built in Chicago since prohibition. Established in 2008 on the north side, the husband and wife founders craft organic whiskey, liqueurs and specialty spirits. Giuliani’s creation combined the bourbon with rich chocolate gelato loaded with ganache swirl and maple-candied pecans.

The fourth gelato to compete in the Italy competition won the technical jury award. The saffron pistachio with candied lemon peel gelato was created by Gianluigi Dellaccio of Dolci Gelati Café, Washington, D.C. The jury recognized this gelato for its “various flavors and textures that hit the palate at different times and combine to create an incredible experience in your mouth.”

The other dozen gelato finalists were:

606: a flavor inspired by Chicago’s many neighborhoods--all with a zip code starting with 606--and diverse food scene. The flavor layers roasted peanuts, sweet coconut, saffron, honey, curry powder, vanilla, ginger and caramelized cashews. By Jessica Oloroso of Black Dog Gelato, Chicago.

Balsamic Strawberry Rocks: a Fior di latte gelato lightly flavored with a touch of orange, swirled with a house-made reduced balsamic strawberry preserve with roasted caramelized almond and dark stracciatella chips folded throughout. By Gonzalo Egozcue of GelatoStar, Cleveland.

Camembert with Vignoles Plum Swirl: a melding of two cultures manifests itself in this buttery, sweet and slightly salty Camembert cheese gelato with roasted Vignoles red plum swirl. The plum swirl is made with Ozark Premier red plums from Missouri and St. James Winery Vignoles (Rolla, Mo). By Anne Croy and Hollie Powell of Pastaria Restaurant, Clayton, Mo.

Canadian Maple Bacon Mini Doughnut: sweet and savory meets the upscale county fair with naturally sweet Canadian maple syrup, Italian sea salt and smoky bacon-infused mini donut-flavored gelato. By Mario Spina and Sharon Woo of Zig Zag Gelato, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Frost Cookie: the indulgence of cookies melds with the decadent flavors of an authentic creamy Italian gelato. By Nazario Melchionda of Frost, a Gelato Shoppe, Tucson, Ariz.

Honey & Sunflower Biscotti: a biscotti-flavored gelato blended with fresh clover honey gets variegated with roasted and salted sunflower seeds for the perfect balance of sweet and salty. By Linda and Joseph Mercurio of Mercurio’s, Kittanning, Pa.

Magic Carpet Ride: organic black sesame gelato with dark and white chocolate stracciatella, hand folded into marbles of organic pomegranate reduction. The gelato is decorated with pomegranate seeds, fresh toasted sesame seeds and freshly shredded white chocolate. By Tolga Seymen of Nutty Squirrel Gelato, Seattle.

Maple: maple gelato made with 100% Vermont maple syrup. By Loris Carlo and Leonardo de Prato of Leonardo’s Gelateria, Barre, Vt.

Passion Fruit Ricotta with Candied Walnuts: a whole milk ricotta-based gelato swirled with a homemade tangy passion fruit marmalade. This surprising blend of flavors is topped off with small pieces of crunchy candied walnuts. By Natalie Yepes of Dolci Peccati, Miami.

Texas Whiskey Pecan: a recipe rich with the homegrown flavors of Texas native pecans and locally distilled Garrison Brothers’ whiskey. The creamy gelato is then swirled with a homemade whiskey caramel sauce. By Matthew Lee of TÈO, Austin, Texas.

Vanilla & Chocolate Hazelnut: a subtle vanilla essence of the Tahitian vanilla bean with pieces of buttery hazelnut and sweet wafers. By Bruno Couto de Matos of Frio Gostoso, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

Windy City S’mores: a new take on a classic American flavor. Using Chicago’s own Katherine Ann Confections’ marshmallows and rich chocolate stracciatella with a smoked graham cracker milk to get the true campfire experience. By Baron Gottsacker of Bent Spoon Gelato, Sheboygan, Wis.

To follow the Gelato World Tour, link HERE.
All of these flavors and similar worldly recipes are ideal candidates for the “when pints cost more than half gallons” movement. This is all about using boutique ingredients and artisanal manufacturing to create worldly flavors. By packaging them in pints or smaller (single-serve) containers, they are transforming the ice cream landscape from being a casual family dessert to a social experience, and commanding a premium price. It’s time to get on board!

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