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I scream, you scream, we all scream for icecream

July 12th, 2010

Filed under: FOOD & TRAVEL

Firenze Ijssalon: I’m not sure what happened the last two times I went to pick up an icecream at my local Italian gelateria, but there were things amiss on each visit: one, the adoring, languid, geriatric golden labrador, Santos, who was part of the picture was no longer there (sniff-sniff, I’m afraid to ask, but I think he’s gone to doggy heaven), and two, the owner of the Turkish shop two doors up had come along to loudly “discuss” some misunderstanding with Firenze’s owners… something about making an apology for having poached some loyal patrons from Firenze by using his cheaper (read: inferior) alternative icecream as bait (but then insisting that now he had lured them away, he had a right to keep them). The wild hand gestures and flashing eyes of the Italian co-owneress, Daniela Unti, during the exchange reassured us that we were at the right address for authentic Italian gelati.

Whether or not you live in Strijp, Eindhoven, and you want some traditional icecream that’s made by bona fide Italians, then venture a wee bit out of the centre and visit Firenze Ijssalon. Every now and then I find a batch is too sweet for my taste, and sometimes I think the flavours could progress into the 21st century (I’m thinking what Maggie Beer has done for icecream in Australia – imagine Burnt Fig Jam, Honeycomb and Caramel, Vanilla Bean and Elderflower or Quince and Bitter Almond … they’re all delish, or  Trampoline Gelato with its Caramel Pear or Bloody Orange curiosities). However, I’m told Firenze’s melon and pistachio is a winning combination, as is lemon and hazelnut (- being an icecream purist I tend to measure an ice cream salon’s mettle by its vanilla) but maybe you want to sample a few flavours and make your recommendation in a comment below. I read in the local paper that last year the business turned 75, and they added somewhat interesting new tastes such as popcorn (?) and mojito, and a special: ‘torta della nonna’, or ‘granny’s cake’. I’ve partaken of none of these. But I notice more of their traditional flavours, which perhaps don’t excite my antipodeon palette (that is, obssessed with new pairings) as much as they could.

Ah me. Four summers here and I still like the ritual of taking a stroll or jumping on my treadly to get an occasional hit of la bella italia at the end of a long, hot day. I enjoy the sound of Italian conversation drifting from inside the salon out into the warm breath of summer evenings where we sit on new garden furniture and smile at fellow icecream imbibers. I like how people come along to this place for the specific purpose of getting some icecream. I like the sneaking suspicion I have that the owners might recognise me (although I don’t really go there often enough to call it my ‘local’). Yeah, it might be missing a complete inventory of flavours that meet my approval, but it’s great to have found a tradition in a place that was once new for the icecream salon owners. I ask you: New icecream flavours in a familiar place? Or predictable icecream flavours in a new place. You can’t have it all.

Firenze Ijssalon – Family Unti
Strijpsestraat 196c
Eindhoven (040) 251-7860

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