The smooth, creamy texture and the rich flavours of the gelato at +39 Gelato Bar – was so yummy from the moment that I had my first taste of them, I was completely blown away.
The main reason behind the smooth gelato textures
When you walk into the shop, you’ll see eight little grey gelato churners on the shop’s counter – that are known as the IdeaTre machines for churning, freezing and storing the gelato. And according to co-founder, Jacopo Quaglia, 44, this is one of the reasons why his gelato tastes so good. Explained Quaglia, “With these machines, we are able to serve the gelato directly from the cylinder of production, so we are actually giving our customers the experience of a gelato texture that is so far, only possible for those lucky enough to be working in a gelato lab – until now.”
Former students of the Gelato Carpigiani University in Italy
Quaglia and his co-founder, Stefano Cadorin, 29, both from Italy, are former students of the Gelato Carpigiani University – a world-famous school in Bolognia, Italy, that teaches students the fine art of making good gelato. Ironically though, both of them had completely different fields of work before moving into the food and beverage sector. For example, Quaglia was a marketing & business professional for 15 years, while Cadorin used to work as an electrician.
Why did they choose to set up shop in Singapore? Quaglia explained that he is familiar with Singapore – having been involved with work in the Asia Pacific region during his time in the marketing & business sector. Said Quaglia, “Singapore is the food & beverage hub in the South East Asian region. As well, I also realised that Singaporeans are very mature and intelligent when it comes to food & beverage. They also seem to be quite familiar with gelato, even though it is not a traditionally Asian-Oriental food.”
Added Quaglia, “Also, I have noticed over the years, that the people in Singapore are brave enough to enter a shop without knowing anything about it beforehand. I didn’t want to deal with shy people who are scared to try new things that are unfamiliar to them. So I chose Singapore.”
IdeTre machines can mix, churn and store the gelato
Quaglia explained that usually, the gelato mixture gets frozen and re-frozen (more than once) at varying temperatures, and this causes ice crystals to form. Every time the gelato is re-frozen, the size of the ice crystals will get progressively larger, and after several times, you will feel as though you are eating ice cubes instead of gelato.
But with the IdeTre machines that Quaglia uses to produce his gelato, the gelato remains firmly inside the device, throughout the whole production process. That is, these machines are able to mix, churn and store the gelato. As a result, it can be kept at the gelato’s ideal temperature – to retain its optimal quality, texture and consistency. Also, only small batches are produced each time, so +39 Gelato Bar ensures that their gelato remains fresh, smooth and silky.
Fresh gelato made daily with completely natural ingredients and zero preservatives
Besides the IdeaTre machines, which are literally first of its kind in the Asia Pacific region, +39 Gelato Bar also prepares their gelato fresh every day, using 100 per cent natural ingredients of the highest quality sourced both locally and from Italy, the home of gelato. There are also no added flavourings, colours, preservatives or chemical additives of any kind – thus adding to the reputation of gelato as being a healthy and delectable pleasure.
Possibly the softest and smoothest gelato I have tried
All the items at +39 Gelato Bar are very fresh. This is obvious as soon as you taste the first gelato. The texture is also extremely smooth and the flavours are really rich and creamy – without being overpowering at the same time. I tried several of the gelato flavours – including pistachio, hazelnut, chocolate, vanilla, mango sorbet and strawberry cinnamon. As the gelato menu changes daily, you will have to check with the counter though, on what is available at any given day.
My personal favourite was probably the hazelnut flavour, because I have always been a fan of this type of nut. I could definitely taste the freshness of the gelato. I was told that the this batch of hazelnut gelato had just been completed, when I tried it – so that explained its freshness. As well, the hazelnut flavour was really authentic and it really reminded me of a beautiful smooth and creamy hazelnut paste.
Strawberry cinnamon gelato
The strawberry cinnamon sorbet was a rather interesting one. As this is sorbet, it is primarily water based and this contains about 50 per cent of fruits to bring out the flavour. Said Quaglia, “Sorbet has no milk, so it is good for both vegan and lactose intolerant people.”
But Quaglia also pointed out that the percentage of fruits contained in a sorbet depends on what fruit is used. For example, sorbet made using strong tasting fruits such as lemons, would contain 25 per cent of lemons, because of the very sour and pungent flavour of the fruit. But to make a sorbet out of watermelons, the sorbet would contain about 70 per cent of the fruit, to bring out the flavour adequately.
I thought that the flavour of the strawberry sorbet was delicious. When I tried some of it, I could instantly taste a very rich strawberry flavour. And after a while, the strawberry flavour disappeared and was replaced with a cinnamon essence. I thought that it was a very interesting sensation on my palate. Added Quaglia, “There is a ‘dark’ side to this flavour of gelato though – unlike most of the other flavours, this tastes better after two to three hours, when the strawberry has been given time to mature. So the taste will be richer.”
As for the most popular gelato flavour, Quaglia pointed out that this is definitely the pistachio one, which is prepared using a pistachio paste – comprising of pure pistachios processed from dry nuts. It is then blended together in +39 Gelato Bar’s secret gelato mix recipe – to produce the gelato. The result is an addictive, wonderful, creamy and rich pistachio paste that melts beautifully in the mouth.
The rich chocolate flavour will probably appeal to younger customers and chocolate lovers. When I tried this one, it literally reminded me of dark chocolate fondue, based on the smoothness and the richness of the chocolate. Indeed, it was a perfect dip to serve strawberries with. I particularly enjoyed this, as I am a fan of dark chocolate. I couldn’t help thinking that if some hazelnuts were added to this too, then you would get a high-class version of Nutella – one of my favourite spreads!
Savoury gelato flavours
+39 Gelato Bar doesn’t simply make sweet gelato flavours. In fact, they are very innovative when it comes to designing new and interesting flavours. According to Quaglia, they also add a savoury flavour into the mix every Wednesday. Past savoury flavours have included goat cheese gelato, guacamole with nachos and Szechuan pepper gelato.
What about some local savoury flavours though, such as laksa, chicken rice and chilli crab? Said Quaglia, “Well, chilli crab gelato is a good idea – and if we could also incorporate those fried buns used for dipping, that would be radically different.”
Alcoholic Aperol Spritz sorbet concoction
Besides the traditional gelato flavours, there are also some other unique items at +39 Gelato Bar. One of these is the alcoholic Aperol Spritz sorbet concoction – that is the alcoholic concoction that was available during my visit. This is +39 Gelato Bar’s version of the classic Italian cocktail – Aperol Spritz, which is made with aperol (an Italian alcoholic drink), sparking water and sparkling wine.
Explained Quaglia, “In our version, we make the aperol into a sorbet, using water. Then to serve it, we top it with prosecco wine. So it becomes a form of frozen spirit.” Also, a slice of orange was added as a form of decoration. When I tried this item, I thought the flavour was quite interesting. When the sorbet was scooped up together with the alcohol, the taste seemed to be slightly sweet, yet sour at the same time. In fact, this was a rather complex and intriguing taste, and this creative combination would definitely appeal to those who enjoy experimenting with alcohol and other flavours.
Crunchy waffles with gelato
+39 Gelato Bar also serves up some rather unusual gelato topped waffles. If you like smooth and crunchy textures at the same time, I think these would certainly appeal to you. That is because the waffles at the +39 Gelato Bar are different to most other waffle outlets. When the gelato is placed on top of it, the waffle does not get soggy. Instead, it is able to retain its crunch. So what you get is the smoothness of the melt-in-the-mouth gelato together with the crunch of the waffle. This is a classic, old-school combination of textures that never fails to delight.
Said Quaglia on the waffles, “We had wanted to present to our guests, the experience of crispy waffle and the softness of gelato together. Also, there is no sugar in the waffles but there is a pinch of salt, so this makes it not so sweet and balances out well with our gelato.”
Gelato sandwich buns
Another intriguing item at the +39 Gelato Bar is their gelato sandwich buns. This comprises of scoops of gelato encased within a soft, white bun. Said Quaglia, “This bun is not that sweet so we think it can work well together with the gelato. Also, I like the sesame seeds on the top, which gives it a burnt feeling that is very nice. In fact, gelato buns like these, are basically what people in Italy eat for lunch – especially during the hot season from April to September.”
When I tasted the gelato sandwich, it was quite interesting. The bun combined well together with the soft, smooth gelato – to produce a nice contrasting combination of textures in the mouth. Also, the sesame seeds on the top, adding to the overall flavour of this particular item, was an interesting addition to this gelato.
Main differences between gelato and ice cream
During my visit, I learnt that Gelato should not be called ice cream. Said Quaglia, “Firstly, gelato has less fat than ice cream. Good gelato should contain less than 10 per cent fat. We have been able to create the recipes with consistent flavour and texture, without overloading on the fat. For example, we use less cream and butter compared to ice cream.”
“Also, gelato comprises of about 30 to 35 per cent air – which is required in the process (during preparation) to turn the liquid mixture into a solid. But ice cream can can consist of up to 100 per cent air. As well, ice cream has lots of preservatives in it – that is why it can keep for many months in the freezer. But gelato can only keep for three days at the most, because it is made using fresh milk and contains zero preservatives,” added Quaglia.
To sum it up, he stressed that gelato should never be called “ice cream.” And in fact, he even joked that should anyone come to his shop and ask for ice cream, he would give them direction to a Haagen Daz shop nearby!
Tips for potential gelato artisans
The sheer passion that both Quaglia and Cadorin shares, in the art of making gelato, is definitely very contagious. So what tips then, do they have for those who are thinking of quitting their jobs – and carving it out in the competitive gelato industry?
Said Quaglia, “The first thing that they have to check, is whether they are passionate or not. I think in general, if you do not have the passion in food & beverage, then you cannot make it. This is because it can be quite tiring and the working hours in this industry are rather long.
“Also, you need to have a good background and be humble enough to ask questions to the more experienced gelato makers in the field, especially when you are starting out. You also need to consider the investment required and problems of opening up a shop – and be creative in coming up with new innovations and ideas,” Quaglia continued.
Promotion for +39 Gelato Bar
Thank you, +39 Gelato Bar, for the media tasting session.
+39 Gelato Bar is located at:
29 Circular Road #01-01
T. +65 65320380
Other Blog Posts
- Taste Singapore Sling and Chendol Flavours at the Gelato World Tour 2.0
- Singaporean Flavour Wins Gelato World Tour Asia-Pacific 2.0
- Taste Test of the 16 flavours at the Gelato World Tour 2.0
- The Gelato With A Heart Dinner