9 July 2012

Discovering the Okanagan Gelato Trail and A Recipe for Summer Cherries Jubilee

Summer Cherries Jubilee

As a precursor to my trip to Italy this fall I have been attempting to learn an Italian word a day.  I am hoping that by the time October comes around I will be able to say a few sentences in broken Italian and can at least be polite and read from a menu. 

Todays word is passeggiata (pass-e-ja-ta) or "little walk". As I have mentioned before on these pages Italians have a tendency to elevate every element of daily life into an art form and savour every moment, from the clothes they wear (Ferragamo, Fendi, Gucci, Armani) to the meals they prepare. So leave it to the Italians to turn their daily, pre-dinner stroll into the premier social event of each day. Here in North-America our schedules dictate that we stroll after dinner, most likely to get a little exercise and fresh air and to work off that extra bit of ice cream we couldn't resist. In Italy the evening passeggiata ("little walk") is between 5 and 7pm, when half the city turns out in their best clothes to see and be seen, but mostly to be seen fare la bella figura, ("cutting a beautiful figure"). The passeggiata is perhaps the most Italian part of any day in Italy, and if nothing else the walk will help me work up a hearty appetite for dinner or work off the many gelato I intend to experiment with. 

Gelato‘ means ‘frozen‘ in Italian, so it embraces the various kinds of ice cream made in Italy, and that’s the best definition I can offer.  Although it is always prepared with milk it sometimes has the addition of eggs and cream depending on where you come across this delightful treat.  In Italy one of my goals will be to try as many types of gelato, in as many gelaterias and trattorias as possible, upon the recommendations of those I meet. So much for the fare la bella figura!!

Gelato is Italian ice cream,  but how does someone explain on these pages what a critical part of Italian life gelato plays. If you have spent any time in Italy, especially in the summer, it’s hard to look anywhere and not see an Italian balancing a cono di gelato in one hand, with their cell phone glued to the other. It is a part of Italian life just as a caffe e latte and cornetti is for breakfast. Gelato is consumed everywhere, all day long.

Even in Italy mass production has invaded the artisan gelato makers so buyer beware. It is easy to be mesmerized by the bright vivid coloured gelato flavours. Although I am sure these are delicious, these are not the handmade artisan gelatos I hope to seek out. I will attempt to not be blinded by the bright colours of the mass produced kinds. When searching for an authentic gelato experience, I want to look for the subdued earthy colored gelatos. These are the true flavours of Italy that I want to experience. These dull, boring looking gelatos are handmade, fresh, and contain all natural ingredients and flavours, real fruits and nuts. These are homemade gelato that are hand crafted in small batches using superior quality, local ingredients prepared with care.

To start me on my journey before I leave Canada, I have decided to try as many gelatos here in the Okanagan valley as I can find and today is the day I strike out on my journey of discovery. I know that most gelaterias here will be full of mass produced products but my idea is to sample as much gelato as humanly possible and to compare them to what I find when I arrive in Italy. I know, I know, this is quite a challenge but someone has to do it!!!

First stop on the gelato trail is Carmelis Alpine Goat Cheese here in Kelowna. The drive to this family owned boutique dairy is up the side of the mountain with a jaw-dropping view of Okanagan lake and the city. I brought my camera to take photos of the vista of undulating vineyards while saving some shots for the goats too since they are responsible for the array of over 20 cheeses you can sample. The reasons for the large selection of cheeses is that different recipes have been developed for different times of the year to take advantage of the changing seasonal qualities of the milk. 

Besides over 20 varieties of cheese they have over 24 flavours of gelato. Goat cheese gelato is easier on the human digestive system than cows milk so 8 out of 10 lactose intolerant people can rejoice. All of their gelato is handmade on the premises. Some is made with fresh Okanagan fruits and some with the addition of packaged flavourings from Italy. They have flavours like Sour Cherry, Italian Pistachio, a true Canadian Maple Walnut, Tiramisu and my personal favourite Salted Caramel.  I was able to sample many of the varieties but my final choices were pistachio and salted caramel. 

My spoon slid into the frozen concoction in front of me and I slowly raised it to my tongue, rolled the spoon over and closed my mouth. My eyes widened. It was good! No it was great! It was not airy but dense creamy and flavourful. I wonder though if Canadian regulations force them to keep the cooler temperature too high since their gelato was quite frozen. When you do finally make your choice I feel their gelato would benefit from not digging in right away and allowing it to melt ever so slightly so you will get the burst of flavour on your tongue.

So what makes gelato different than the ice cream we grew up with?
1) The biggest difference is that for the most part  gelato has 7 percent fat verses 28 per cent in ice cream. Gelato is closer to ice milk, as the Italians have found that too much butterfat interferes with the transfer to the tongue of the fresh flavours it is noted for.
2) The machines used to make gelato move very slowly as they churn, introducing little air into the mixture so the finished gelato is dense and thick. Unlike standard ice cream-making machines, usually the ‘dasher’ (paddle) moves up and down while the canister turns, so little air is whipped into the mixture while it churns. 
3) The storage freezers used for holding gelato tend to be kept a few degrees warmer (up to 10 degrees F) than a normal ice cream dipping cabinet, so the gelati keeps its silky, creamier texture. When gelato is less-cold, your mouth doesn’t get ‘frozen’ and you can taste the flavours better.
Despite all of the "monsoon-like" rains here in the valley over the past month. (Just to make my point we had over 170 cm of rain in the month of June, breaking all records),  cherry season has arrived in the valley. So, to accompany the gelato I picked up at Carmeli's I decided to make a batch of Summer Cherries Jubilee. I used a combination of Vans with their almost black colour and Rainier with their light yellow flesh and red blush for a little contrast. Perfect on yogurt as well. Check out this easy way to pit cherries, which couldn't have come at a better time since I seem to have misplaced my cherry pitter. 

**Summer Cherries Jubilee with Gelato**
from Cooking Light 2003

1-1/2 cups pitted sweet cherries
1/2 cup Cabernet or other dry red wine
1/4 cup cherry preserves
1 tablespoon amaretto or other almond-flavoured liqueur
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Combine pitted cherries, red wine and cherry preserves in a small saucepan; and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in amaretto and lemon juice. Serve warm over gelato or yogurt.

Carmelis Alpine Goat Cheese Inc.,
170 Timberline Road,
Kelowna, British Columbia,

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. this look awesome !! I love it!

  2. I'm so jealous of your trip! Eat lots of focaccia for me!

    My favorite Italian words are hte ones that we don't have English equivalents for. Somehow they're the most romantic - passeggiata, chairoscuro. Love em. ANd this gelato. Swoon.

  3. Salted caramel would be my favorite, too! Great mission you're on! And I'm so-o-o-o envious or your going to Italy!

  4. AnonymousJuly 09, 2012

    I can't even tell you how jealous I am!! I have a great gelato place by me but it's not worth it because its dairy an my body doesn't like that. Ah someday I have to try that!

  5. I love that you're learning a word a day, Val. That's so clever. :-) You know I've never had Cherries Jubilee?? It has such a lovely name that I simply must make it soon. :-)

  6. A delightful and refreshing dessert! We have a few gelaterias here in Geneva, but they are quite new and their prices are quite high...



  7. What a great way to get ready for your trip to Italy. Love the idea of the warm cherries jubilee with amaretto over the cool dessert.

  8. I am excited for you.I nevr knew I would love to travel until I went to Italy and France in 2008.I cannot wait to perhaps go back one day.
    There is a great little pocket dictionary at Costco at the moment..If you should find one..get it..I looked at it last week and thought how helpful..English/Italian..but small and so well done.
    I also discovered an Italian artist I fell in love with..and bought 7 of his songs on ITUNES.
    Gianmaria Testa..I heard him sing Nuovo..and it brought me back to Italy:)Go listen:)

    Hope we hear about your itinerary etc:)
    Lucky lucky you.YOU will appreciate so much

  9. YUM! I just love Cherries Jubilee. In fact, it reminds me the days we lived in Kelowna. It was a specialty at one of our favourite restaurants, Williams Inn.

  10. I would love to try goats milk gelato.
    I should just make my own but want to try some first to make sure I do like it.
    Not fond of goat cheese. But that doesn't mean I'm not open to other goat milk products.

  11. A passagiata is the perfect way to finish off a big meal... come check my blog for my big announcement.
    There will be more passagiatas in my future :-)

  12. I love your "word a day" plan! It's so helpful to speak a little of the language when you travel.

  13. A lovely, well-written post, Val! And that icecream looks just fantastic!! Will this be yr first trip to Italy? I see you are preparing well for it - in every way!

  14. We will all learn a little Italian with you. Great dish and you are so lucky...

  15. Gelato in Italy was my downfall. And not kidding here! Love that you are trying all kinds before you go...wish I dared to join you, Val. The photos are making my mouth water.
    Great recipe and a super tip for pitting cherries.

  16. that goat is hilarious and creepy at the same time. :)
    LOVE me some fresh cherries and this is a fine way to use them!

  17. Lovely tradition. Too bad it falls right at cocktail hour ;-0 GREG

  18. Trying as many gelatos as possible sounds like a fantastic summer task! The goat gelato sounds divine, and I want some cherries jubilee with gelato for dessert tonight.

  19. Nom Nom Nom...I love the way you've embraced the Italian lifestyle here on MTBT. Deliciously good gelato; I'm ready to dive in ...and then the cherry on the cake, oops on top! DIVINE!

  20. Our cherries are at their peak right now and this recipe is on our menu this weekend! Thanks for sharing, Val. Cherries are my favorite summer fruit, along with watermelon, peaches, pears, apricots, etc.

  21. AnonymousJuly 12, 2012

    Gorgeous, and one of my favorite

  22. Have a fun time Val:)))

  23. cherries + amaretto sound fabulous
    the goat pic is hysterical!!

  24. AnonymousJuly 14, 2012


  25. Oh you are going to have so much fun. I love that you are teaching us to speak Italian phonically :)


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