The family and I soaked up a nice summer day in September at the DC Gelato Festival. This is an all you can eat day of fun for everyone. As a lover of all things #FatSnacks there was no way I was going to miss this event. Although it was a delicious event, I also learned a lot about gelato. Prior to today, I’ve only had gelato once or twice while in Miami. Gelato is a healthier cousin to ice cream; my name is Mimi and I am addicted to ice cream. HELLO, MIMI! Of the 16 gelato flavors they had, we tried 13 of them. I think that is solid.
Gelato Festival is the most prestigious event in the world dedicated to Italian artisanal gelato. It is a traveling festival crossing Italy, Europe, the United States, and Japan, selecting and rewarding the best gelato artisans in the world. It is a multi-year project to enhance the Italian food culture that brings worldwide events based on values such as quality and excellence, as well as a flywheel to keep high the corporate culture based on principles such as fair competition, commitment and overcoming of limits, respect for rules and sharing of results.
The Story of Gelato
Before even pizza and spaghetti, ice cream is historically the first food to define itself as an ambassador of Italian food in the world. The inventor, in 1559, was the ingenious Florentine artist Bernardo Buontalenti that – invited by the Granduke Cosimo I to take care of a banquet – at the Medici court served the first cold cream made from milk, honey, and egg yolk. It was a triumph! The dishes, at the time, were synonymous with power, imagination, and creativity of the noble kitchens: a pride to amaze and sometimes intimidate guests. From here the ice cream began to spread, first in Italy and then in France, where it came in the wake of Caterina De ‘Medici with the butcher-confectioner Ruggeri.
The Gelato Festival was the idea of Gabriele Poli, a young Tuscan entrepreneur who in 2010 decided to organize an event in Florence dedicated to artisanal gelato, inspired by the link between that city and gelato and the creation of the first gelato recipe by the multifaceted architect Bernardo Buontalenti in 1559. Given the success of the first editions, Poli and his staff decided to broaden the festival’s horizons by expanding first to other Italian cities and then to the great European metropolises in search of the best gelato in the world.
The day prior to the DC Gelato Festival I attended the Press Conference and tried some fun flavors. I was ready to hate the Caprese Salad gelato, but it was so bomb. I couldn’t wrap my mind around a frozen treat tasting like lettuce, and tomato. So basically I had salad and that sh!t is healthy. Flat stomach loading… I wouldn’t want a bowl full of it, but it wasn’t terrible like I assumed it would be. I love fall, but I don’t like pumpkin anything. In the vain of being open, I tried the Pumpkin Spice gelato, while I wouldn’t order it the taste was spot on. All you pumpkin spice lovers would be in gelato heaven. You can get this flavor locally at Dolci Gelati, they are an award-winning artisan Italian gelato shop in D.C.
The DC Gelato Festival
Let me tell you how it works when you buy a ticket to the festival it is an ALL YOU CAN EAT type of event. They give you a pamphlet that has a map + checklist of vendors. As you visit each vendor they check out the box on your pamphlet.
You can get a spoon size taste or a bowl of gelato. Because there were 12 competing flavors, we went for spoonfuls because that is a lot to eat otherwise. Now I’m not judging you, but I’m saying your gut will bust out of your pants. Not cute! At the end you vote on your favorite flavor via a QR code also in your pamphlet.
The Special Flavors
The flavors are a one time taste only. The vendors are sponsors and they are a part of the event, but not the competition.
The Partner Samples
In addition to everything above, they had two Partner samples you can try. Paciugo had Strawberry Lemonade which was delicious, and Caffe Vergnano had an espresso shot, that isn’t my zhuzh so we didn’t try that one.
Although this event is about eating, they also had things to keep us busy. The Gelato School was their teaching and having fun. They had a gelato eating contest for anyone who wanted to participate. They had competitions among the Gelato Chefs that included stacking scoops in a cup. Making as many perfectly flat gelato cups in a limited time, and
This was a fun flavor and it tastes just like the real thing.
This one was good, the bourbon is cooked down so you won’t get drunk and it is safe for the children.
This was in my top 5 flavors of the day as well. After a while, I would start to spit out the cashews, but it was really good.
I loved the Sweet Potato Casserole, it was one of my top 5 flavors of the day.
This one was quite delicious, Chef Thereasa is a local, her shop is in Fairfax, Virginia. She was the only black chef in the competition, and she was a woman. She made us proud too.
Additional Flavors We Had Not Pictured
- Coco Nut Love – Ezequiel Gomez – Gelato Gourmet This was also in my Top 5 – He got my vote!
- Salted Caramel Butter Toffee – Matthew Rice – Pastaria
- Pistacchio Baklava – Hiba & Hiba – Blue Noon
- Avocado Two Mike – Michele Bagazzini – Dolce Riviera
- Piazza Navona – Fabio Pilot/Giuseppe Paone – Zerogradi Gelateria
- Air Italy – Corn Flake flavor with white chocolate
Flavors We Missed
- The All-American – Savannah G. Lee – Savannah’s Gelato Kitchen
- Strawberry Chocolate-chip – Mark Ethanelli – Carpigiani Gelato University
Favorite Flavor of the Day
Strawberry Lavendar from Dolci Gelati
This year’s winner of the DC Gelato Festival is Savannah G. Lee, of Savannah’s Gelato Kitchen with her All American [Apple Pie]. It looks delicious in the picture too. I’m so mad this was one we didn’t get to try. Why? Because the line was so long, and now we know why.
DC Festival Winners
First Place: All American [Apple Pie] Second Place: Mango Raspberry Cashew Third Place: Coconut Love
I have great taste because I had two of the winners in my Top 5. The Gelato Festival is a traveling event so look for it in your city.