Magnificent gelato provides some of my fondest food memories. There are few other foods that capture the imagination of young, old and in between, like ice cream.
Before I write about Messina Gelato I need to recount how I found my favourite gelato in the whole world, and my last experience there. A little over ten years ago I was the majority way through a ten week world trip spending time in the home of gelato before finishing up in Hong Kong. Having spent some time in the north-west towns of Torino, Alba, Genoa, and Varazze, my next plan was for Florence.
Being on my own, and starting to tire from my plan of walking hotel to hotel once getting to the next city, I decided to try to book in Florence. After five (expensive) phone calls on my Nokia, I decided Florence was not going to happen this time. Instead, I extended my time in Rome and headed there by train. Six years later I had the opportunity to spend time in Florence and Pisa, and it was as good as I thought it would be.
Once in Rome I met a bunch of people at the hostel near the Vatican, and naturally had an affinity with the food lovers. One of the guys was particularly helpful and pushed me in the direction of San Crispino which at the time only had one gelateria (there are now a couple) near the Trevi Fountain. It blew my world. Everything I had learned about ice cream was obsolete. I had a new standard, a new natural high that was insatiable. I attribute at least one of the kilograms I put on that trip purely to San Crispino.
I have returned twice to Rome since then but all too briefly. Both times have been with Catherine, once the day before I proposed, and the second time was just one night during our honeymoon on the way to Santorini. That night we managed to try five different flavours each between two of their shops on a walk that took us by the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Campo de Fiori, Trevi, The Roman Forum and Colosseum, all after dinner. There is no other place in the world like it.
Besides the gelato at Messina being exceptional, there is a great deal that reminds me of San Crispino, and naturally then of Rome and Italy.
The consistency between sites is amazing. Having recently been to both Smith Street, and the new shop in Richmond, not to mention the original shop in Darlinghurst in April, I can confidently say that the growth in shops has not changed the consistent high quality. The staff have an obvious appreciation and enjoyment from working for such a successful brand, and the free tastings that must come with the role!
The gelato, whether it be creamy or not, usual or unusual, fruit, nut or otherwise, is brilliant across the board. I wouldn’t like to list the number of flavours I’ve tried through guilt, but so far in Richmond between Catherine and I we have tried pistachio, bounty, chocolate sorbet, strawberry, choc mint, macadamia crunch, banana split, raspberry, and apple pie, and it is difficult to pick between them, but they are all beautiful. The flavours really shine. For example, in the choc mint you can really taste the actual mint, not some sugary manufactured mint flavour. In the macadamia there is a handful of macadamias (at least) and in the apple pie they have had to focus on the stewed apples no less than a quality baker would.
I was so excited about Messina opening in Richmond that I followed its progress almost day to day. The sign going up was a milestone, and about a week later the doors opened. We were just about to walk down last Sunday and Catherine stopped and said “but that would be my fourth time in eight days”. We decided to wait a couple more days!