SRING

SRING

By
Lisa Valmorbida
Contains
11 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781743793367

I like spring at Pidapipó because you can see customers getting excited as new flavours start to appear on the menu. Strawberries arrive, then apricots and limes and so on. Some regulars greet them like old friends.

All the fruit we use for gelato in the shop we store and prepare in the open so that it becomes part of the décor. It’s a good way to mark the changing of the seasons. I like the idea because it literally shows that we’re open about our ingredients and not using frozen or pre-made sauces and mixes, and that we’re following the traditions of the best gelato makers in Italy.

Having all our ingredients and machinery as part of the décor was really important to us when we were planning the design of the permanent shop. We wanted it to feel authentically Italian, classic and timeless rather than trendy. It was about the small details – using materials that are constant and classic like marble, concrete and wood – and getting an Italian feel with a design that improves with age.

Design is one of the things that Jamie and I work on together at Pidapipó. With some of the business, we just trust each other to get on with things. He’s good at some things; I’m good at others. He doesn’t read the recipes that I create and I let him take care of the marketing and business side of things. We’ve always been clear about what we’re both doing; we trust each other. For me that’s the best kind of business and why Pidapipó has worked.

With the design of the permanent shop we put together a list of what we wanted, sketched out a plan of where we thought things might go and then started to shop around for a designer we could work with. We really liked the work of Rabindra Naidoo. He was a bit hard to track down but when we did finally meet him, we immediately knew he was the right person. He understood what we were talking about and very quickly drew up the plans, which was good as it was spring already and our planned early summer opening date was rapidly approaching.

It was funny that I instantly liked what Rabindra showed us because I’d initially talked to him about a more colourful shop and then he came back with this quite minimal concrete and white idea that was not at all what I’d imagined. But I saw he had really understood the brief. The pared-back look with all the small details really captured what we were after. It also reminded me of when I was younger and had been daydreaming of owning restaurants. One of those daydreams had been about an all-white restaurant, so maybe I did get what I wanted.

Spring is always a time when we throw a few parties, get DJs or musicians into the shop to play and maybe launch a new flavour or a new range.

Music has always been an important part of Pidapipó. Well, almost always. Our approach to music, having DJs play live or getting them to create playlists for the shop came about really early on with the temporary store and it happened through a combination of intuition and some really bad techno.

Jamie had a conversation with a successful restaurateur about the shop who suggested that, to attract the attention of the crowd, what we needed was some full-on techno, no vocals, turned up really loud. So Jamie brought a techno playlist in, turned it up and then just walked out and left me in there. No one came in and it was a really awful atmosphere so I ended up turning it right down so that you could hardly hear it. People started to come in again. That was when I realised we needed to get music that suited us. I contacted a friend of ours who’s a DJ and asked him to make me a playlist. He brought it in, we stuck it on and the atmosphere of the place changed completely. People would stick around to listen to the music. Now we’re always updating the music in our stores and working with the best people in Melbourne who can help us get the best atmosphere. It’s really helped define the personality of Pidapipó and is an important part of the whole experience. It was one of those things we discovered through doing the temporary store.

The temporary store was like Pidapipó’s spring. We learned so much from it that we were able to use in the permanent store: what people liked in terms of product, the layout of the store and how customers use it, the music, bringing the ice cream machine to the front window and chopping fruit in the store so the process of the gelato being made becomes part of the experience.

Our first collaborations also started at the temporary store. There was the Esther Stewart mural and the uniforms designed by a Melbourne-based fashion label called PAM, but we also worked with some of the local traders, including a pizza joint called DOC.

We’ve since done a few collaborations with Tony Nicolini, who owns DOC. He comes to me with specific requests, like making a fior di latte with buffalo milk or doing a sesame gelato for a dish he was thinking about that he wanted to be all black. But the thing we’ve done most with him are collaborations with dessert pizza. We held one of these in the back courtyard of DOC where we were selling sweet pizzas to the public that were all pared with a different gelato. We had a strawberry pizza teamed with fior di latte, banana with macadamia and coconut gelato and another that was like a cassata with nuts and ricotta.

Spring is always a time of new ideas. It’s a season that really suits Pidapipó.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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