Tag Archives: gelato

A peek into GIAPO’s kitchen

Chefs aren’t made in the kitchen.
Chefs are made from something they have deep inside them –
an inner flame that burns brightly… with purpose, curiosity and passion.
In reality, true chefs pursue the creation of something better than yesterday and when they think they got it, they realise they don’t.
~ Gianpaolo Grazioli

A smiling face opens the door, and we walk through to the area behind the counter. I peek into the cosy kitchen and see that it resembles a laboratory – only it is fitted with stove facilities and edible ingredients. A purple cap finds its way to my head. I take in the sight of 24 cracked eggs caught in a bowl, yolks bobbing in the gloopy pool of whites. I smile at the myriad of utensils, pots, bowls, trays and litres of milk that line the shelves and fridge. I stare out the window at the other humans walking to work (and smile knowing that I will join them soon… BUT not just yet).

Slowly, a sense of unfounded familiarity and tingles of exhilaration wiggle through my toes.

I am in GIAPO’S kitchen.

This morning, Giapo is baking brownies to make brownie gelato. Fresh cream is whipped till it tries escaping from the mixer with violent jerks, and leaves in its wake a beautiful mound of butter. No store-bought chocolate is used (he uses fresh butter, choice cocoa powder and cocoa butter). Giapo gives me a sample of cocoa butter to taste – I am a little put off by its name because it sounds like a lotion, but I am struck by the luxurious quality of it, the way it reminds me of an edible bar of creamy soap – creamy but clean and not sticky in any way (“wow!” is what I want to say). In the course of the morning, he also makes a beautiful batch of dulce de leche and the bit I taste fresh from the pot leaves me feeling a little like I am walking on air.

The way everything whirls, mixes and cooks around me reminds me (just slightly) of one of my favourite Disney moments. I am as intrigued by the beautiful brownie-making process as I am by Giapo’s solid understanding of the science behind food/cooking. (The science of food is not yet my forte. I cook and bake by way of a certain random madness, and without an understanding of why ingredients act the way they do).

So I enjoy myself immensely watching the brownie come together, but I can’t shake off this funny feeling that lingers in my mind the whole time I am in the kitchen… until Giapo tells me he’s going to make a chocolate gelato and combine that with the brownie to make brownie gelato.

This is the moment at which everything feels illogical and marvellous all at once. Questions and answers start flying in and out of my head in rapid succession.

WHAT! WHY! I want to say. How does any of this make sense? Does everyone even really see/understand just how much work goes into this? Couldn’t you take more shortcuts? Couldn’t you use less good (and thus costly) ingredients? Why don’t you let supermarkets/stores etc carry your products? Why do you bake brownie from scratch? Why and how do you invent so many new flavours every single week? Why do you do what you do?

I’ve asked some of these questions before. But even as these questions surface in my mind, everything now makes complete sense in my heart. I already know that yes, GIAPO is a business with overhead costs. Yes, there is nothing to stop them from taking a few time and money-saving shortcuts. Yes, they could easily rely on market knowledge and stick to flavours that have been proven to be popular with the masses (rather than take a chance with experimental flavours). Yes, they could arrange for supermarkets and other stores to stock their gelato.

But the way I see it, GIAPO is not your average business. It’s a people-loving business/”Wonka factory”/thought leader/research lab/innovative centre/delicious gelato parlour and more, rolled into one magic entity. I think it’s less about sticking with the proven, or focusing on profits, or abiding by what some would label as “sense”…

The way I interpret it, it’s about the execution of a mission. Loving food and loving you. Fanning that inner flame. Embarking on a quest to experience life by tasting everything. Combining science, art and passion. Holding strong to values and principles in a society that doesn’t do this as much as they should. Pushing boundaries. Following a dream and vision. Having the courage to go where passion says to go. Making something gobsmackingly delicious, just ‘cos. Revolutionalising gelato, food and eating. Taking pride in their work. Having fun along the way.

And, as they say, giving you food that is as it should be – good for you. With a lot of love, commitment, excellent techniques, quality time and ingredients (no shortcuts or artificial content), and a sparkling dose of genius.

It’s taken me two days to write this post, and still I am not sure I have expressed myself adequately. But thank you for reading my clumsy words. If you’re in Auckland, please visit GIAPO and bring everyone you know. If you are not in New Zealand, well, get here. It’s a thoroughly beautiful country. And go to GIAPO.

Grazie mille Giapo, for the lovely privilege of spending an hour with you in your kitchen!

Giapo – 279-291 Queen Street, Auckland – Phone: 09 550 3677

Recently/random

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
~ T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

It’s grey and gloomy outside, perfect blogging weather even though I have nothing concrete to blog about today. Being on holiday does that to you sometimes – makes your writing all unfocused and scattered, because there’s so much important stuff to do. Stuff like lazing around in pyjamas, reading books, starting 2012 projects, catching up with favourite people, lying on the grass and watching the sunset, dancing/prancing around, going on long drives, watching movies… you know? It’s hard to focus.

(Alright, I’ll stop rubbing it in for those of you virtuous folk who have already been back at work for a week or two ;-))

So today’s post is going to take the form of “random”. Hope you enjoy it anyway.

Here’s a photo of our dinner the other night, as prepared by my friend Jacqui – whoever knew that pizza without cheese would still taste so good?! Peaches + smoked chicken slices + spinach + mushrooms + capsicums + apricot chutney atop two of those handy pizza bases (3 for $2.99!) made for a rapid (done in 10 minutes!) and good dinner.

A few of my friends here seem to have developed a sudden penchant for bubble tea. Previously, I only visited Hulucat with a certain trio, and quite sporadically at that. We discovered Hulucat’s second branch near the Civic on Tuesday, a very handy location for a post-movie debrief. I’m still undecided as to whether I like bubble tea, but on occasion I find an original or oatmeal milk tea takes my fancy. Hulucat does a fine job with their bubble tea – easy to drink, sweet and customisable (you can request any crazy combination of tea/toppings and have it hot, cold or less sweet). I now skip the pearls though, so as to avoid feeling crazy full afterwards!

And it’s been more than 24 hours since Grace and I went to Giapo… but frankly I find it difficult to forget the gelato we had this time! Grace got a scoop of earl grey tea gelato – I tried it, it was stunning and captured the flavour perfectly – and a scoop of cherry tart. I went for a scoop of the dark chocolate and porcini mushroom, and a scoop of cherry tart too. I was handed a tub containing a velvet dark chocolate dream, and a summery treat with real cherry bits and topped with shortbread crumbs. Very much an indulgence. Very much enjoyed.

In between, I’ve been eating fresh strawberries, greens, eggs, and one rather unhealthy takeaway dinner (which I ate on the porch with my friend R while the clouds turned pink, so that made up for it)…

Hope you are all having a great day, enjoy it – rain, shine or snow… today only comes once.

Hulucat Tea House – 16 Wellesley Street, Auckland – Phone: 09 377 0307

Giapo – 279-291 Queen Street, Auckland – Phone: 09 550 3677

Giapo = gelato buonissimo

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

Italian for drowned

An affogato (Italian, ‘drowned’) is a coffee-based beverage or dessert. It usually takes the form of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso and a shot of Amaretto.
~ Wikipedia

There is nothing like conversation and an affogato for lunch.

Affogato
trickle sweet cold smooth teasing
vanilla bean
milky
sitting as a merry snowball
under
a deep black robust magic espresso wave

Wellington has a good place named Kaffee Eis – the waterfront one is my branch of choice!