After making its way to America from Italy, sweet, cool gelato is giving ice cream a run for its money, and local makers are enjoying its success.
Made with milk, and containing a fraction of the butterfat content of ice cream, gelato offers advantages health-wise, but that's not really why people eat it, said Theresa Anderson, who owns Swan Chocolates in Merrimack with her husband Michael.
Jack Anderson, whose parents own Swan Chocolates in Merrimack, indulges in a bit of gelato, his favorite treat. (Nancy Bean Foster)
"In your mouth the flavor is intense," she said. "It's served warmer than ice cream, which brings the flavor out, and there's about a third as much air as in ice cream so it's dense and good and fluffy, the way gelato is supposed to be."
The Andersons have been making gelato at their gourmet chocolate shop for about eight years, and have found that people come to the shop just to get a scoop or two.
"Some of our customers are people who experienced gelato in Europe and couldn't wait to have it again," said Anderson. "But the rest are people who have heard about it and are curious to see what all the talk is about. They love it."
Mario Enzler's family has been making gelato in Milan, Italy for more than 70 years. When he and his wife moved to Keene in 2010, he decided to introduce the art of creating gelato to folks in the Granite State by selling it wholesale to restaurants and bakeries through his company Gelato Bella Vita.
"I purchased the machinery in Italy and followed all of the regulations to basically become a milk plant," said Enzler. "Then I called Italian restaurants to see if they would be interested in adding gelato to their desert list."
Though Enzler's dream is to opening gelatarias throughout the region, his plans have been put aside for now as he serves as headmaster of the New England Classical Academy in Keene, which he founded with his wife. But he still whips up batches of gelato that are served at weddings and functions, and at restaurants including Nicola's and Luca's in Keene, Old Europe in Concord, and Nonni's in Hillsborough and New London.
"It's more a hobby for me now," he said. But he's hoping someone will take him up on the offer of helping them open their own scoop shop.
"It's a business that will never fail," he said. "People may not have the money to go out to dinner, but they'll always have the money to go out for gelato."
For the Andersons, gelato is a major part of their business and Michael works to ensure the flavors that people want, like blueberry, salted caramel and chocolate are fresh and ready to scoop each day.
And at Swan Chocolates, Anderson said people are encouraged to indulge in gelato the typical Italian way, by mixing scoops of different flavors in a single dish and allowing the flavors to come together in unique ways.
“It's fascinating to see how the flavors play off of each other,” Theresa Anderson said. “It's really fun to experiment.”firstname.lastname@example.org