|"Local nuts and fruit." Gelato Bar in Los Feliz|
One of my favorite hang-outs is the Gelato Bar on Hillhurst Avenue which not only offers delicious gelato but also sells Almdudler, an herb flavored soda and my favorite drink from Austria. (Long time readers of Across the Pond might remember that Almdudler is one of the things I carry in my suit case when I come back to L.A. from Europe.)
The story of how the gelato came to the bar is posted online. Gail Silverton, the gelateria's co-owner, discovered the Italian version of ice cream when she tried her first gelato during a visit to Florence in 1979. "From the taste of my first hazelnut gelato, I knew that I had never had anything quite like it.”
What makes gelato different? Joel Gutman - he co-owns the Gelato Bar and is married to Gail - told me in a telephone interview that there is no standard for gelato but that it is generally churned more slowly than ice cream. This makes for a less airy product with a "more creamy, denser, better flavor". Gutman and Silverton use a heating process for their gelato; they make it in small pans rather than large batches; and they use milk not cream. Gutman: "You get less fat and less calories." Gutman doesn't deny that syrups which are imported from Italy go into his shop's gelato. "Some might make it from scratch", he explained, "but they are few and far between, even in Italy. We add local nuts and fruit."
And the Almdudler? Gutman: "We have many choices of authentic, no corn syrup sodas in glass bottles in our cases. It makes you feel better about what you are drinking." People in L.A. are not familiar with the product but according to Gutman they do like it. He and his wife think of it as "a better alternative than ginger ale". As with the gelato the reason for them knowing about Almdudler in the first place is biographical. Gail Siverton's first husband was Austrian.