Growing up I was so obsessed with ice cream that my first email address was a play on “ice cream”. When I found out I couldn’t eat gluten, I was happy knowing there were many gluten free ice cream brands available. But when I learned my body also couldn’t tolerate soya or guar gum, it was upsetting knowing that virtually all ice cream was taken away from me. Except for Hagaan Daaz because they are incredible and only use natural ingredients. I’ll gladly spend the extra money to eat that perfection.
But let me say this once, ice cream’s got nothing on gelato! Real good homemade gelato with natural ingredients is far superior. The amazing thing about high quality gelato is that it doesn’t contain guar gum, I have never had my stomach turn from good gelato (let’s hope it stays that way).
One of the best things about Italy is the gelato. I remember our first trip to Italy when I had just found out a couple days before about my gluten intolerance. I ate gelato almost ever day but I was still learning about cross contamination so I figured it was fine to eat from a cup even though the paddle could have touched a cone before. Now I know that could put me in bed for a day. On this trip I was determined to eat gelato as often as possible but of course only from places that I knew were 100% gluten free, which turned out to be primarily in major cities. Here are three of my favourite gelaterias and my favourite flavors at them.
San Crispino – Roma
The biggest rule in the world of gelato is that the pistachio should be a pale olive green and the banana brown. I mean come on people, have you ever seen something banana flavoured bright yellow before? Well let’s just say San Crispino’s pistachio is pale olive and the banana brown. There are no brightly coloured, artificial flavours to be seen.
San Crispino is THE best gelateria in Italy, no questions asked. Well, at least that’s my personal opinion from spending over six weeks in Italy (and Lonely Planet’s thoughts which is how we found San Crispino in the first place). One visit to their shop and you will be in agreement! First of all when you ask which flavours are Senza glutine, they reply “tutti”. All. Everything is gluten free and cones are forbidden/sack religious. After all, a cone would deter from the gelato’s flavour. San Crispino is like being in a gluten free gelato heaven, you have free run at everything. Each flavour is kept at it’s own set temperature, that’s how dedicated these people are about their gelato. For the best gelato, it’s in a difficult to find and very unassuming location near the Trevi fountain. But being near one of the must see sights in Roma doesn’t mean that they’ve stooped to the level of other places who sell out and stop at nothing to lure customers inside. In fact, if you hadn’t read about San Crispino or been there before, chances are you wouldn’t even notice it if you were on the same street. I even made my sister and her boyfriend a makeshift map to find it but they weren’t successful. Thank goodness I know the directions by heart now! This is one of the long list of reasons why I love San Crispino. I feel like it was made only for gelato lovers. They don’t want to waste their goodness on people who won’t appreciate their pure, natural flavours.
That brings me to my favourite flavours. Number one is nocciola (hazelnut). They have the most divine, intensely flavored hazelnut gelato. It’s so amazing that I actually cannot order nocciola gelato anywhere else because even before I take a taste I know I’ll be disappointed. I also love banana so much! Plus, pistachio is delicious, but I find it’s such a strong flavour that I have to share it, but it’s still a must try each trip. I really find that I stick to the classics at San Crispino. Seriously if you are ever lucky enough to find yourself in Roma, please stop by San Crispino and decide for yourself if it’s the best gelato you’ve ever ate before.
Grom – Siena & Milano
People say you either love Grom or hate Grom. Personally, it’s a bit too big and flashy for my liking, but their strict procedures towards gluten free customers has got me going back for more time and time again. The majority of the flavours are gluten free but because cones are served there is risk of cross contamination. So when you make your order and specify that you are need it Senza Glutine, the person serving you washes their hands, then takes out clean paddles and cups from a sealed container and sets them out on a dedicated surface away from the cones. Then for each gelato flavour there is a a separate container of it below the one in view that is only used for Celiacs. They even give you a spoon from a sealed container. It’s incredible watching then perform this dance. I know it’s time consuming, but I sure do appreciate the care they put in to ensure I don’t get sick. Ok sometimes I feel bad when I go back in the shop 10 minutes later to order seconds! I just can’t resist.
My favourite stand alone Grom flavour is fior di latte, which is incredible and next to impossible to find elsewhere. I discovered a fantastic new flavour combination on this trip, which I happily ate three times; fior di latte and peche (peach). When I ate it for the first time i sillily exclaimed, “mmm it tastes like peach”. A real peach flavour, nothing artificial. It’s so refreshing and creamy at the same time because of the fior di latte. Just look at the picture, don’t you want it too?
Fior di Luna – Trastervere
This was a new find on this trip. All of the gelato was gluten free and they only use cups. With no cones, there was no worry of cross contamination.