Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.
~ Ralph Marston
I’m repeating myself here, but following another visit to Giapo today with my beautiful friend Emily, it’s about time I stop giving them passing mentions and actually wax lyrical about them in a FULL POST on my blog.
Giapo… is glorious.
Think of your favourite ice cream or gelato flavour. What is it? Strawberry? Maple walnut? Chunky Monkey? Lemon sorbet? Mmm, that’s a pretty good thought, isn’t it? Okay, hold that thought…
Now imagine inventing an ice cream or gelato flavour of your choice. What would it be? I remember one frosty night some years ago, when a few of us played this “invent an ice cream flavour” game after dinner… there were suggestions of watermelon, jasmine, bubblegum (guess we already have goody gum drops in New Zealand), peppered steak and toothpaste (yeah, seriously… the last two options weren’t mine).
Now, enter Giapo… which would have taken the cake and stolen the crown in that “invent an ice cream flavour” discussion. I love quality and I love surprises, and Giapo delivers on both fronts. I think of the Giapo team as a real life Willy Wonka and Oompa-Loompa team (ref: Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), inventing all sorts of amazing and surreal goodies, and offering them in a space masquerading as a relatively normal-looking gelateria.
It’s like they’ve taken gelato and dressed it in every possible garment, painted it with every hue and shade in the paint box, and sprayed it with a library of scents to rival Demeter’s… and somehow done it exceptionally well, too. Antipasti and pinot gris. Wasabi vanilla. Dark chocolate and smoked salmon. Seaweed and sauvignon blanc. Pinot noir and espresso coffee. Scallops and strawberry. Pumpkin and amaretto. Christmas fruit mince pie. Whisky and blue cheese. And of course, they have tamer flavours like lemon/coconut/organic cocoa sorbet too (note: by “tame” I mean more normal-sounding, but terribly good and nowhere near mediocre).
Tasting these, you sort of expect magic things to happen in the store, or Oompa-Loompas to come trailing out with whisks and berries in their hands, or something.
From the frequency at which new flavours appear and from the generous smiles of the team there, you’d think they just effortlessly muttered gelato into existence while sleeping. But if you think they’ve just taken a bunch of random ingredients and chucked them into the freezer together for a laugh, think again. The combinations are carefully thought out – Mr. Grazioli said, for instance, that the salmon and chocolate combination was born out of those two elements sharing similarities at a base molecular level. That sounded very foreign to my Bachelor of Arts ears, but tasting this harmonious and madly delicious gelato, I’m prepared to believe it. The way I now see it, salmon and chocolate might appear as different as night and day, but they’re probably distant cousins on some level. And very good blended.
I like so many things about Giapo. For one, there is only one Giapo in Auckland – no franchises or supermarket versions. You seldom get the exact repertoire of flavours every time you visit (this says to me that their gelato is very fresh, and they are constantly seeking ways to improve/delight their customers). The gelato is immaculate in colour, substance and form. The chairs are cute. There is an art and science to everything they do. The team is patient and friendly, happy to give you a taste of anything while you are trying to make up your mind. Wonderful, too, is the fact that they don’t skimp at all on ingredients. Indeed, I think they don’t skimp on anything – they use only the best of everything.
No one’s told me this, but I suspect the Giapo gelato you down in a few minutes is the stunning result of countless hours of creativity, fun, thought, experimentation and research. For all of what I’ve written in this post and more, the Giapo spirit is one that more eating establishments and consumer goods providers really need to catch and embrace.
Giapo – 279-291 Queen Street, Auckland – Phone: 09 550 3677