London Gelato Festival: the place to be this weekend

Gelato Festival – London, Old Spitalfields Market, 26-28 June 2015


Under the patronage of Expo Milano 2015 and in collaboration with the Italian Trade Agency, the Gelato Festival has come to London this weekend. The Gelato Festival was first organised in 2010 in Firenze – the birthplace of Bernardo Buontalenti who is universally considered the inventor of the Gelato. In 2013 the Gelato Festival has began to visit other cities, first across Italy and now all over the world. For the first time this year, the event landed to London, and set camp in the Old Spitalfields Market. There are three state-of-the-art food trucks, loaded with high quality gelato. 


The “Il Buontalenti” food truck is where the magic happens. This is the place where the gelato masters are working their magic, crafting the most amazing flavours that will blow your mind. And they have put everything on display, turning the food truck into an open-plan production space. Go and see the masters at work! No secrets there, just pure passion! The “Ruggeri” food truck is a mobile gelateria. This is where you can indulge yourself and taste the fabulous flavours that the gelato masters have designed especially for the event. The “Caterina de Medici” food truck is an itinerant school space, where you can learn how to make gelato at home. This is also where the gelato masters will be presenting their fabulous flavours. There is a competition going on, where 6 gelato masters are fighting for a place in the European final at the Gelato Festival in Firenze. 

I have been invited to be part of the technical jury, together with other food bloggers and journalist, having the difficult mission of deciding the best flavour in the competition. We have evaluated the 6 flavours based on a series of technical parameters such as: colour congruency, flavour, creaminess level, cold sensation or sweetness level. Let me tell you that this was not an easy mission. All of the six flavours presented in the competition were outstanding and each one had its own individual story and personality.

We started with the magnificent “La Dolce Vita” flavour crafted by Paolo Pomposi, with layers of hazelnut and chocolate going through a luxuriant Buontalenti base. This is the perfect expression of indulgence. The texture and the taste are sending you straight to Firenze, where all you want to do is wander around and indulge yourself in a dolce-far-niente state of mind.


And then it was the most surprising and refreshing mango, green chilli, lime and coriander sorbet designed by Thomas Joyce. A rather surprising taste for a sorbet, but the flavours were so incredibly well balanced and the taste was so stunning that made your palate sing with delight!


The third flavour of the competition was Gino’s hazelnut designed by Raul Nardino from the Gino Gelato Shop. There is something about simple and pure flavours that always amazes me. Nothing but whole milk, whipping cream, sugar and hazelnuts has been put in this gelato. And the taste is spectacular. The gelato has the perfect creaminess and the taste is pure, simple and elegant.


The star of the show was the Black Pearl of London, designed by Massimiliano Leoncini and Michele Raineri. There was a huge amount of research and thought that stood behind the development of this particular flavour. The flavour is encompassing the rich mix of history and culture that one can find in the London’s East End, showcasing the diversity and the contemporaneity of the place. It is a simple italian gelato base, flavoured with combined essences of green cardamom, saffron, kewra, rosewater and oyster extract. There is a black pearl on top bursting with spice, a subtle chilli garnish and a crisp oyster brioche wafer to complete the whole picture. The taste is complex and sophisticated and it perfectly captures the spirit of London’s East End.


The Vegan After-Eight flavour developed by Andrea Saglietti and Nicolo Arietti is a dark chocolate sorbet with Pancalieri mint. There is no milk or cream involved, as this is a vegan option, but the level of creaminess is just right. You get to taste intense, rich dark chocolate and a cooling and pure mint flavour that stays with you for a long time.


The sixth flavour in the competition was the Bacio di Dama developed by Christian Oddono form Oddono’s Gelati. Again, simple but pure ingredients, delivering in taste, creaminess and with the perfect level of sweetness. It takes a high level of passion and craftsmanship to develop such perfectly balanced flavours. 


These are the six flavours in the competition for the best gelato in Europe. One of this six gelato masters will go to Firenze in October to fight for the big title. The technical jury has reached a decision which will be revealed on Sunday. It is now your turn to vote for your favourites as the public’s opinion is also taken into consideration in the final decision. So head up to the London Gelato Festival in Old Spitalfields Market and indulge yourself in a feast of pure Italian gelato.

There are other flavours developed especially for the event: a fabulous fruit sorbet in the colours of Expo Milano 2015, a top-secret recipe designed especially in the honour of the Royal Baby, the pure and simple Buontalenti flavour and an absolute novelty from Perignotti featuring chocolate cream ripples and hazelnut granules.

The entrance is free, and there are lots of interactive demos you can attend during the festival (you can find the complete programme on the London Gelato Festival official website). Oh, and if you’re lucky enough, you could get photobombed by the Italian Gelato Legend – Vetulio Bondi. What else could you wish for this weekend?

Andra Constantinescu

I am a classically trained chef, with a BSc in Culinary Arts and a Masters Degree in Food Business Management.

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