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RIMINI

The ‘World’s Best Gelato’ has been crowned after a three-year contest

An Italian competition to find the best gelato in the world has come to the conclusion after three years of searching, that when it comes to perfect ice cream, there's no place like home.

The 'World's Best Gelato' has been crowned after a three-year contest
The winning pistacchio flavour. Photo: Dino Buffagni

The Gelato World Tour is coordinated by the Carpigiani Gelato University, also known as Bologna's ice cream university, and is supported by the Italian Foreign Ministry as it tours the world each year to track down the tastiest gelato on the planet.

Judges have toured the world during a three-year selection process with over 1,800 gelato-makers taking part. The 36 finalists representing 19 countries competed in the Grand Finals in Rimini this weekend, with a number of challenges ranging from dairy-free ice cream to speedy gelato-making.

But it turned out that the very best cone can be found in Italy, with the Gelateria Crispini in Spoleto scooping the top prize.


Alessandro Crispini poses with his prize-winning gelato. Photo: Dino Buffagni/Gelato World Tour

Gelataio Alessandro Crispini's pistacchio flavour, made of three kinds of Sicilian pistacchio roasted for 24 hours, was crowned the World's Best Gelato.

The winners were selected by a 45-strong jury including gelato experts, chefs, and journalists.

In second place was the German Eiscafé De Rocco in Schwabach with a grape sorbet created by a father and son in a tribute to their hometown of Venice. And a chocolate-passion fruit gelato from Amor-acuyà in Medellín, Colombia was awarded third place.

A total of 50,000 visitors came to the finals to watch the competition and enjoy the 2,500kg of gelato which was produced over the three-day fair.

And according to organizers, 2017 has been a record year for gelato-eaters as well as makers, with consumption of the dessert up ten percent on last year.

READ ALSO: How to spot good quality gelato in Italy – and how to suss out the fakes

How to spot good quality gelato in Italy - and how to suss out the fakes

Photo: Alexandra E Rust/Flickr

FOOD & DRINK

OPINION: Michelin-starred cuisine is just not suited to Italy

Michelin-starred food has its merits but it doesn't fit with the Italian tradition of cuisine, argues Silvia Marchetti and some frustrated Italian chefs. There's nothing better than a plate of steaming lasagne, she says.

OPINION: Michelin-starred cuisine is just not suited to Italy

I’ve never been a great fan of sophisticated dishes, twisted recipes and extravagant concoctions that leave you wondering what is it you’re actually eating. T-bone steak with melted dark chocolate as topping, burrata cheese with apples, spaghetti with blueberry sauce aren’t my thing.

Hence, I never eat at Michelin-starred restaurants, and it’s not because of the exorbitant bill – paying €200 for a salad simply because it was grown in the private garden of a chef which he personally sprinkles with mountain water each morning, is a bit over the top.

I just don’t think such fancy food has anything to do with the real Italian tradition.

The ‘nouvelle cuisine’, as the name suggests, was invented in France by chef Paul Bocuse. And it’s ‘nouvelle’ – new – not anchored to past traditions.

The philosophy of serving small morsels of chic food on humongous plates as if they were works of art is the exact opposite of what Italian culinary tradition is all about.

We love to indulge in platefuls of pasta or gnocchi (and often go for a second round), and there are normally three courses (first, second, side dish, dessert and/or coffee), never a 9 or 12-course menu as served at Michelin establishments (unless, perhaps, it’s a wedding).

Too many bites of too many foods messes with flavours and numbs palates, and at the end of a long meal during which you’ve tasted so many creative twists you can hardly remember one, I always leave still feeling hungry and unsatisfied. 

So back home, I often prepare myself a dishful of spaghetti because Michelin pasta servings often consist in just one fork portion artistically curled and laid on the dish. In fact, in my view Michelin starred cuisine feeds more the eye than the stomach.

The way plates are composed, with so much attention to detail, colour, and their visual impact, seems as if they’re made to show-off how great a chef is, than as succulent meals to devour. I used to look at my dish flabbergasted, trying to make out what those de-constructed ingredients were and are now meant to be, and then perplexed,

I look at the chef, and feel as if I’m talking to an eclectic painter who has created a ‘masterpiece’ with my dinner. I’m not saying Michelin starred food is not good, there are some great chefs in Italy who have heightened a revisited Italian cuisine to the Olympus of food, but I just don’t like it nor understand it.

There’s nothing greater than seeing a plate of steaming lasagne being brought to the table and knowing beforehand that my taste buds will also recognise it as such, and enjoy it, rather than finding out it’s actually a sweet pudding instead.

More than once, after a 4-hour Michelin meal with a 20-minute presentation of each dish by the chef, the elaborate food tasted has given me a few digestion problems which lasted all night long.

Michelin-starred food has started to raise eyebrows in Italy among traditional chefs, and is now the focus of a controversy on whether it embodies the authentic Italian culinary experience. 

A Milanese born and bred, Cesare Battisti is the owner of restaurant Ratanà, considered the ‘temple’ of the real risotto alla Milanese.

He has launched a crusade to defend traditional Milanese recipes from what he deems the extravagance and “contamination” of Michelin-starred cuisine. “Michelin-starred experiments are mere culinary pornography. Those chefs see their own ego reflected in their dishes. Their cooking is a narcissistic, snob act meant to confuse, intimidate and disorientate eaters”. 

Arrigo Cipriani, food expert and owner of historical trattoria Harry’s Bar in Venice, says Michelin-starred cuisine is destroying Italy’s real food tradition, the one served inside the many trattorias and historical osterias scattered across the boot where old recipes, and cooking techniques, survive.

“Tasting menus are made so that clients are forced to eat what the chef wants, and reflect the narcissistic nature of such chefs. Italian Michelin-starred cuisine is just a bad copy cat of the French one”, says Cipriani.

I believe we should leave French-style cuisine to the French, who are great at this, and stick to how our grannies cook and have taught us to prepare simple, abundant dishes. At least, you’ll never feel hungry after dinner.

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