Guess who or maybe it’s a what has come to Melbourne . . . Gelato Messina, my most favorite gelato shop in the world! Straight from Sydney, serving all the same amazing flavors — even the same specials on the same day. And while they were supposed to be open by late October, construction delays postponed the opening until last week. But lucky for me, they were offering a 2.5 hour talk and tasting on the Saturday I was in town, despite the fact they weren’t yet open, and I was fortunate to snag a spot. It pays to stay on the mailing list of your favorite haunts even from the other side of the world.
At 9 AM about 20 of us gelato lovers made our way past the construction barrier, balancing on a pathway of concrete blocks in place of the sidewalk, into the nearly finished shop on Smith Street to meet the creative mastermind and co-founder Donato Toce (in town from Sydney for a month to kick things off) and store manager Simone Panetta (a handsome Italian gelato officiando) for a bit of recipe sharing, dessert eating, story telling and what can only be called a crazy, fly by the seat of their pants gelato tasting extravaganza. I think I died and went to heaven.
The funny thing is, we ate so many specialty desserts featuring gelato and other sweet accompaniments, by the time we were let lose on the 40 flavors in the case, I was almost too sugared out to partake. Almost but not quite. While many tried to taste them all, I simply went for a handful: Coconut & Pandan Sorbet (really really great!), Passion Fruit Sorbet, Apple Pie, Pistachio, and Yogurt & Caramel (still my favorite) Gelato.
In addition, we made and tasted Raspberry Sorbet, Vanilla Gelato, and a version of a Baked Alaska featuring Chocolate Fondant Gelato. Oh and let’s not forget the Prosecco Granita Apple Crisp concoction and Creme Anglaise something or other with Lemon Sorbet and Milk & Cookies thing-a-mabob. All before 11:30 AM. Youza!I should have taken better notes and photos. But I was far too busy eating and soaking up the lore that is Gelato Messina. These guys are a family. They stop at nothing to bring us the very best product and are bound by only their unfettered imaginations. And lucky for us, they are open 364 days a year (closed only on Xmas day) in a growing number of locations.
I would say try as many flavors on each visit as you can (they do a 5 scoop tasting flight for $12) but in reality if you’re anything like me, you’ll order the same thing every time because it’s just soooo good. Salted Caramel is by far their best seller, but I say go for the Yogurt & Caramel, the perfect balance of tangy and sweet and ooey gooey goodness. Look I had my chance to try them all and you see how far I got. I am a creature of habit. This much I know.
And if you’re at all enticed to try your hand at making gelato at home, the Gelato Messina recipe book has just been published — available in store and at local bookshops. The homemade concoctions will never be as good as what you get in store, but you may have fun trying.
Gelato Messina (Melbourne)
227 Smith Street
Initial image courtesy A Table For Two.