• Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    Capogiro Gelato and Sorbetto: Proof God Loves Us and Wants Us to be Happy

    I’m paraphrasing Benjamin Franklin who said the same about wine. He might have been talking about the gelato and sorbetto produced by his fellow Philadelphians of a more recent vintage: Stephanie and John Reitano.

    Wine and gelato have more than a few things in common, especially the ones made under the attention of a true artisan. The best winemakers are skilled at producing consistently good wine while facing seasonal challenges. They can blend, balance, and age wines to exploit the best qualities a particular vintage has to offer, showcasing the varietal’s unique character.

    Wine Enthusiast notes the use of wine like Barbera and other liquors in some of Capogiro’s 300+ flavors. Drawing a parallel between a vintner’s craft and Reitano’s, they describe her dedication as “painstaking” noting fewer artisans possess this kind of determination these days, even in Italy.

    The skill with which Reitano combines flavors while extracting the best from her ingredients is very similar to that of a skilled vintner. The true character of the main ingredient, whether it’s Moro (Blood Orange from Spain) or Melograno (Pomegranate), explodes on the tongue. Maybe it has to do with the fact that gelato has less air than American ice cream, so the flavor is more intense.

    Red Papaya, one of the flavors in my freezer this week, has a peppery bite I adored immediately, but couldn’t place. Speaking like a winemaker, she explains: “finish was a little thin” so she added a touch of ginger to round it out. Other flavors in my freezer this week: Kiwi, Grapefruit w/Campari, Melograno (Pomegranate), Moro Blood Orange, La Columbe Cappucino.

    Capogiro Gelato and Sorbetto are exquisitely perfect and they consistently delight us. Reitano carefully chooses both ingredients and suppliers. She rigidly adheres to these choices and once described herself as “a little psycho” in this way. I beg to differ.

    She is close to the land and a tireless booster for Lancaster County and its many farmers. She partners with Amish and Mennonite farms, small family farms and large organic cooperatives. She is devoted to promoting sustainable agriculture and heirloom varieties. She uses quality exotic items from around the world and hand-picked produce from around the corner. She only uses milk from grass-fed, hormone-free cows.

    All these choices reflect values characteristic of old world artisans.

    Her passion for the perfect sorbetto and gelato could make Cupid blush. One can sense immediately that the unpredictability of seasonal harvests, the diversity of suppliers and the sometimes surprising customer preferences are merely things to spark her creativity. Her delight is the same whether waxing rhapsodic about “blackberries the size of your thumb” or describing how she worked through the challenges that would stop the rest of us dead in our tracks. This kind of passion is infectious.

    By the way, “solutions” like artificial ingredients or less than perfect products are never an option to Reitano. She would rather forego making a coveted flavor than compromise. Just ask her customer who took home a bag of hickory nuts because that season’s yield was too small to produce his favorite butter pecan gelato. Oh well.

    Capogiro - the name conjures that light-headed, giddy (literally head-spinning) feeling of falling in love. If we're lucky in love, a fleeting infatuation can ripen into true love. Intense, authentic, pure. Full of passion, devotion and care. And rich, too?

    Sounds like true love to me!

    Fall In Love
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    Blogger JacquelineC said...

    What flavor would you be? Red Papaya? La Columbe Cappucino? Lychee?

    10:50 PM  

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