Talenti Gelato: A Class Act
CAPSULE REPORT: Why should you be grateful to Bernardo Buontalenti? Born in Florence, Italy around 1531, he was a genius: painter, sculptor (he studied under Michelangelo), architect to the Medici royal court, theatrical designer and military engineer.
More important to us, he is credited with inventing gelato, which was later evolved by others into ice cream. (See the difference between ice cream and gelato.)
Thousands of years before the dawn of gelato, the Chinese had discovered how to make fruit ice. They built ice houses to save winter ice and snow for summer use. They then flavored some of the snow with fruit juice or syrup, creating the ancestor of the snow cone.
This “recipe” spread to the Middle East, where the fruit-flavored ice was called sharbat (which evolved to sherbet). Alexander the Great of Macedonia (356 to 323 B.C.E.) discovered it and brought it back to Greece, where it became a favorite of the nobility.
At some point, someone—believed to be the multitalented Buontalenti—froze a base of milk instead of water and created gelato.
As the impresario of the Medici banquets, Buontalenti had all the necessary resources, including ice for freezing the gelato, labor to get the recipe right and the ability to make any equipment he needed. The Medici and their guests may have been the first people to enjoy gelato.
Talenti Gelato, the number one gelato brand in the U.S., honors Buontalenti's achievement.
Talenti’s small-batch production is the bridge between handmade artisan gelato and sorbetto made by small gelato operations (like Philadelphia’s Capogiro Gelato) and mass-produced gelato.
The Talenti line currently includes 12 flavors of gelato plus five flavors of sorbetti. (2012 Update: there are now 17 flavors of gelato and 3 sorbetti. See the new flavors). For those who like the basics, the Tahitian Vanilla Bean and Double Dark Chocolate are wonderful (see all the flavors). The Argentine Dulce de Leche and the Sea Salt Caramel gelato are worth hunting down, as is the splendid Hill Country Peach Champagne sorbetto. Delicioso!
The products are made with hormone-free milk and are certified kosher (dairy) by OU. The company is also proud of its green initiatives.
The handsome containers can be repurposed for kitchen storage. Wash them by hand or on the top rack of the dishwasher.