North Shore spot offers gelato as ice cream alternative
June 20, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- On a hot day, few things beat the heat better than a scoop of ice cream -- or maybe gelato. The Italian answer to something cool, sweet and creamy is available all over Chicago, including Highland Park.
The latest gelato shop to open on the North Shore actually has roots in Arizona, where folks know plenty about hot weather.
The store, Frost Gelato has been a hit since it opened a few months ago, and this time of year, they are producing gelato by the bucket-full.
It's rich and creamy, of course, but gelato is also a good alternative to ice cream in the summertime, since it contains less fat.
That message is driven home every day at the Midwest outpost for Frost Gelato.
"Gelato is 80 percent less fat and half the calories of American ice cream," said Steve Rams, co-owner of the frost location in Highland Park. "All of our raw ingredients are imported directly from Italy, but we learn, we train under an Italian gelato master who is the head chef, the head gelato master, for Frost Gelato."
Even though headquarters might be Arizona, everything here is made on-site. Take the mango flavor, for example. Water and lemon juice are weighed in a container, then hunks of mango are added, along with some sugar to sweeten it, plus some mango puree. Everything is combined with a large immersion blender. Then, it's poured immediately into the machine where, after less than 10 minutes, smooth, creamy gelato emerges.
"We don't use much in the way of heavy cream. We use whole milk, a tiny percentage of heavy cream, no eggs, and then our butter fat content is 3 to 8 percent, where American ice-cream is generally 12 to 25 percent," Ram said.
There are always about two dozen flavors on hand - including a few sorbets - but some of the regulars this time of year include sea salt caramel, dark chocolate and strawberry. They'll even use gelato in cakes, like one featuring hazelnut and espresso.
The main difference versus ice cream seems to be that omission of eggs.
"You get a dense product without any eggs to block the flavor. You're getting a very rich product as well," said Ram.
Any discussion in Chicago about gelato would be remiss without mentioning Freddy's Pizza in Cicero. Hands down, the best gelato this side of Rome.
617 Central Ave., Highland Park
1600 S. 61st Ave., Cicero
restaurants, steve dolinsky
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