So here are the results, comparing six samples:
None of this is important; it was only ice cream, after all. But it raises the intersection of a number of complex subjects, Chocolate and Gelato and Ice Cream and, of course, Taste. (A businessman would be quick to add others: Marketing and Economy and Consistency among them.)
Weve tasted a lot of ice cream and gelato, Lindsey and me (she was not the friend joining me on yesterdays search, though she went along with it good-humoredly). The best ice cream Ive ever eaten has been that that Lindsey has made, in a hand-crank freezer; for years she made it that way (though with a machine-cranked freezer, otherwise identical) at Chez Panisse. I still think she wrote the standard recipe for ice cream, in her Chez Panisse Desserts (still in print, thank you).
The best gelato has been found three times: once in a memorable little stand in Capalbio at the southwestern corner of Tuscany; once at Gelato di San Crispino in Rome; always always at the remarkably consistent and always pleasant and attractive Pampanin in Verona. Well, of course those are all in Italy; gelato is an Italian experience.
I must add to this list, of course, Mary Canaless remarkable work at Ici in Berkeley but Berkeley is also seventy miles distant.
Weve tasted a lot of chocolate, too. Some day perhaps Ill write seriously about Chocolate, which is almost enough to make me believe in Divine Providence surely chocolate is, with wine, one of the great gifts of life. (I dont mean they should be taken together, of course, though some quite specific pairings can be very pleasant.)
We tend to the dark and bitter chocolates. I like white chocolate, but its another thing altogether. Chocolate should, in my opinion, be dark and bitter, should tend more to the oily-unctuous than the waxy-brittle, should be deep and complex. I dont care about all those specific flavor-adjectives: jammy, fruity, blackberry, and so on. I know theyre there, but adjectives are even more a matter of taste than are flavors. But dark and bitter, unctuous, deep and complex, thats what I want, something that hits me immediately when I smell or taste it, that builds in my mouth, that keeps on saying something afterward, something pleasant.