Who says trip to Italy, necessarily says gelato tasting. From Palermo to Milan, the country has fabulous ice cream parlours. Served with a blade in a pot or, Sicilian style, in a beautiful brioche, Italian ice cream is an institution. But what is so special about it? How does his recipe differ from the ice cream traditionally found in our regions? Under the very good advice of Carlo de Pascale, our food columnist, we contacted Stephen Vandeparre, artisan baker, chocolate maker, pastry chef and ice cream maker in Petit-Enghien. The expert, who offers more than 40 flavors in his shop, has agreed to share his frozen knowledge.
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Italian or French ice cream?
“In fact, it’s all a question of vocabulary”, explains Stephen Vandeparre. “In Belgium, the term Italian-style ice cream is quite pejorative, it refers to soft ice cream, do you see those large cones of soft ice cream made from flavored sweetened milk? It has nothing to do with traditional Italian gelato. In Italy, we obviously don’t talk about Italian ice cream – a bit like we don’t say French bread in France – but about Fior di Latte ice cream, which I translate as fleur de lait. This flower of milk, which you can taste at some ice cream parlors, is the basis of all their ice creams. It should not be confused with the word gelato, which is the generic term, the Italian translation of the word “ice cream”. The Fior di Latte contains whole milk, 40% fresh cream, sugar and locust bean gum. The ice creams that are traditionally found here are made according to “the French method”, that is, based on custard. Unlike Fior di Latte Italian ice cream, these ice creams contain eggs. The egg yolk will bind the ice cream. This method is the most widespread in Belgium, it is the one taught in Belgian hotel schools. Another subtlety to take into account, in Italy, all ice cream is made from the Fior di Latte base, but there is an egg ice cream. But this egg ice cream will never be associated with other flavors such as chocolate, for example. », explains the expert.
And on the taste side, what are the differences? “Let’s take a vanilla ice cream made according to the French method and compare it with an Italian vanilla Fior di Latte ice cream. The latter will be very white, light and, sometimes, a little sweeter. Egg-based ice cream will be more yellow and a bit oilier. It will coat the palate. In Belgium, we are more used to this type of ice cream. », Continues the glacier-chocolatier. Decidedly very generous, he even confides in us his secret for spotting a good ice cream maker. “To know the quality of an ice cream, you have to taste two flavours: Fleur de Lait ice cream (if there is any) and lemon sorbet. If your ice cream has a chemical taste, reminiscent of Lysomucil, it’s a bad sign (laughs). »
The favorite addresses of editorial foodies
Italian ice cream or ice cream prepared according to the French method, we share with you our favorite addresses to refresh yourself with delicacy.
Carlo de Pascale’s favorites:
“I’m not a big ice cream eater, but I particularly appreciate the ones from Bargello, the ice cream parlor set up in Place de la Liberté. This Florentine ice cream parlor makes tasty ice cream, just like in Italy. Another ice cream parlor that I adore, Cones Brussels. This address is in the middle of nowhere, on Avenue de l’Hippodrome. This Argentinian ice cream parlor offers artisanal ice cream made from fresh milk and fresh cream, much like the base of Italian ice cream. Its texture is very creamy and not too airy. Gaston’s ice creams are really not bad, even if, for me, nothing replaces the ice creams of the late Comus & Gasterea. I haven’t tasted Mattia Collu’s ice cream (Gelato Naturale, in Gerpinnes) yet, but this address is particularly appealing to me, its approach is very interesting. »
• Bargello, Pl. de la Liberté 5, 1000 Brussels
• Cones Brussels, Avenue de l’Hippodrome 59, 1050 Ixelles
• Gelato Naturale, Rte de Philippeville 34, 5651 Gerpinnes
• Gaston, Quai aux Briques 86, 1000 Brussels
Gaston’s pistachio ice cream is also one of my favorites in the capital, but I’ll leave that address to Carlo! Living between Brussels and Waterloo, Carette is one of my favorite addresses. During a report on alcoholic ice cream, I had the chance to interview Xavier Meur and taste his fabulous creations. This pure enthusiast offers very original perfumes made from quality products. The only problem with this address? As a great indecisive, her long list of perfumes gives me a hard time. A good reason to go back again and again… At the top of the list of ice cream parlors that I would like to discover this summer, is the address of Stephen Vandeparre (obviously) but also that of the chocolatier-ice cream maker Georges Doutrelepont, whose said a lot of good to me.
• Carette, Chau. de Bruxelles 278, 1410 Waterloo (also in Wavre and Ottignies)
• Xavier Meur, rue de la fusion 11, 4280 Hannut
• Georges Doutrelepont, Rte d’Ath 248, 7020 Mons
• Stephen Vandeparre, Chau. de Bruxelles 282, 7850 Enghien