One of the highlights of this summer was an invitation to spend two days at Carpigiani Gelato University, located just outside Bologna, on the historic Via Emilia, between Lavino di Mezzo and Anzola dell’Emilia.
48 hours of just thinking about gelato and, of course, tasting flavor after flavor of sorbet, semifreddo, granita, frozen yogurt, soft-serve, as well as, traditional Italian gelato.
At the Gelato Lab, Carpigiani’s freestanding high-tech gelateria, two brand new flavors of gelato were introduced to the world on July 20 during the presentation of the 2011 Gelato Pioneers (more about this later).
The two fascinating flavors were created by Gelato Maestro Luigi Perrucci in the Gelato Lab’s research and experimentation kitchen, using the most innovative of Carpigiani’s gelato and soft-serve machines.
The crowd cheered as a tray of Mortadella Gelato “crostini” was presented. Mortadella is one of Bologna’s most famous foods, dating back five hundred years. Maestro Luigi chose to serve his mortadella gelato on a small round slice of bread and top it with a shaving of Parmesan cheese, a squiggle of balsamic vinegar and bit of shredded lettuce.
Made with a sorbet base, the pink gelato offered a true mortadella flavor without any fatty mouthfeel or aftertaste. The bread, balsamic, Parmesan and lettuce made it the perfect sandwich, albeit an icy cold one.
For dessert, Maestro Luigi offered a Balsamic Vinegar Soft Serve Gelato. Of the palest purple in color, made with a milk and egg base, the delightful swirl of gelato was sweet with a slight tangy aftertaste.
Balsamic vinegar is not vinegar per se. It begins with late-harvest grapes (usually white Trebbiano) grown near Modena. Traditional balsamic vinegar is thick and sweet and very very expensive.
Carpigiani is known for pushing the envelop of the tradition Italian gelato experience. The company seeks to bring Italian gelato to the whole world. Mortadella gelato may not find its way into any gelateria on a regular basis (except for perhaps Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco and on the Food Channel’s Iron Chef), but the balsamic vinegar soft serve is a keeper.