SUMMER

SUMMER

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

I always get excited at the start of every season because of the different ingredients that become available. It’s not that you get sick of the ones you’ve been using but it’s sometimes easy to forget about some ingredients until the seasons change and they’re suddenly back again. It’s exciting. But I get extra excited when summer arrives, not just because warm weather, summer nights and gelato go so well together but also because of the amazing variety of ingredients you get to work with.

Summer to me has always been about fruit. Both my mother and father are great cooks and love to entertain and so summer reminds me of the dinners we would have in our backyard that would include lots of fresh fruit: mangoes, strawberries, rockmelon, pineapple, watermelon, plums, peaches, passionfruit and cherries. These are some of the flavours I return to when I think about making gelato and sorbet in summer.

It was summer when I learned about how important it is to use really good-quality fresh fruit when you’re making gelato. I was enrolled at the Carpigiani Gelato University and it was July, summer in Bologna, and really, really hot. It was also the time of year when some of the best-quality fruit is available. In Italy, the quality of fruit is like a different standard altogether. When you eat a peach in Bologna in summer it’s like you’ve never really eaten a peach before. The intensity of the flavour, the juiciness. It sets a high standard but it also made me understand that I couldn’t compromise: you can’t make good gelato without using great ingredients.

One of the first things they emphasised at Carpigiani was to always use fresh fruit, never frozen. But you also need to learn when to use the fruit. A piece of fruit that’s perfect for biting into has a different degree of ripeness altogether to the fruit you use when you’re making gelato. To get the kind of concentrated flavour you need for gelato, you have to do some extreme ripening. I get bananas in when they’re green and don’t use them until they’ve turned black, for example, while strawberries I leave until they’re soft and collapsing in on themselves. It concentrates the sugar and makes the flavour more intense. It’s why when people come into Pidapipó and try our fruit-flavoured gelato they often comment on how much it tastes like fresh fruit. It’s because that’s what it’s flavoured with. We don’t hide behind anything else. It’s also what makes our gelato seasonal. You’re not going to get mango gelato in winter at Pidapipó.

Both the Pidapipó temporary store and the permanent store in Lygon Street opened in summer. It was a matter of timing and practicality but it was also a business move too. Gelato is still considered a bit of a seasonal thing in Australia, something that people mainly eat when the weather is warm. It’s easier to get people’s attention in summer and I think we’ll always be busiest when it’s warm but, after spending time in Italy where gelato is more of a year-round thing, I think it could easily change here too.

Summer is the time when Pidapipó throws some of its best parties. Jamie and I always like to collaborate with a variety of different people – it kind of pushes you to do things that you may not have thought about on your own.

We did a collaboration for Valentine’s Day with a local design studio called Tin & Ed. Every year we do a flavour for the night and have a DJ playing in the store and initially we approached Tin & Ed to do something in the window of the shop so people would know what we were doing and what the flavour was. Then we decided that we would collaborate on the actual gelato too. The concept was ‘when opposites attract’ and their approach was really visual, they just wanted a really good colour. My brief was to come up with some kind of salty-sweet flavour that was not too obvious but also not weird enough that people wouldn’t want to eat it. We did a blackberry and salted chocolate that was this amazing bright purple-mauve colour with a strange but exciting taste. People still ask for it.

For the St Kilda Festival one year we decided that we’d do an Italian kind of thing and hold a beach, bocce and gelato party. We set up on part of St Kilda beach and laid out two bocce courts and set up a gelato stand. We also had DJs playing all day. It was a perfect beach day, hot and sunny, and it was pretty tame for most of the day but as the evening came, more and more people started to turn up and we ended up having this massive beach party with people dancing. Jamie and I looked at each other at one stage, going ‘what is happening here?’ It was an amazing night. And we sold a lot of gelato.

Just after we opened the permanent shop we threw a party around Christmas time to launch a new flavour that I’d been working on since that spring. The gelato was based on banoffee pie, a classic English toffee and banana dessert, but I also created it in collaboration with an amazing Melbourne musician, Martha Brown, who plays under the name Banoffee. For the launch she played in the laneway next to the shop. It was like our own mini music festival.

I’m always sorry to see summer go. But just like the many great ingredients that are ripe and available at the same time, it will be back.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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