When my husband and I got married oh so many years ago, we couldn’t afford an extravagant honeymoon, but we were able get away for a few days just to dream a little about possibilities. So we headed to San Francisco and stayed at what was then the Four Seasons Clift, a luxurious hotel where fluffy white robes waited for us, chocolates were placed on our pillows after housekeeping turned down our beds for the night, and room service — decadently ordered on our first night there — introduced us for the first time to gelato.
I’ll never forget the heavenly, creamy texture, and the just right sweetness of the vanilla scoops we enjoyed that night.
The hotel has changed ownership since then, and although still beautiful, it barely resembles the traditionally elegant place we spent the first few days of our married life. It’s now a sleek, sophisticated looking place that I’m not sure I’d feel entirely comfortable in.
I wonder if they still have gelato on their room service menu?
Next week,when we taste our first sample of gelato in Italy (and the following 10 or 15), I know we’ll smile and remember those three perfect days.
gelato della ciliegia
1/2 vanilla bean
3-1/2 c. whole milk
pinch of salt
1/2 c. turbinado
2 T cornstarch
1/2 lb. fresh bing cherries, pitted
2 T turbinado
1 tsp. pure almond extract
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Prepare an ice bath. You can do this by 1) setting a metal bowl in a sink of iced water; or 2) a larger bowl or pan.
Pour milk into a small saucepan and add a pinch of salt. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, and using the end of a butter knife, scrape the seeds from the pod and stir into the milk. Drop the pod into the milk as well, and then cook over medium heat, barely bringing to a boil. Remove from heat.
In a small container, mix cornstarch and sugar, then add 1/2 c. of the hot milk, stirring well. Immediately, pour back into the pan of hot milk, and bring to a simmer, stirring until it begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, pour the mixture through into the metal bowl, stirring occasionally, and cool to room temperature. Remove from the ice bath and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
To prepare the cherries, in a food processor, pulse cherries, sugar, and both extracts until chopped finely, and chill along with the milk mixture.
Pour the milk mixture, the cherry mixture and all juice into an ice cream maker, and freeze, about 20 minutes. Scrape from bowl and place in a sealable container in your freezer for at least 2 hours before serving.
- This recipe was found in the June 2008 issue of Gourmet in the “Letters” section, sent by a woman who was inspired by her yearly trips to Italy. Lucky woman!
- The whole milk used for this recipe is quite the refreshing change from the heavy cream used in other ice cream recipes I’ve tried.
- I don’t have a cherry pitter and was surprised at how easy it was to use my paring knife to cut along the crease in the cherry, then with my thumb, pull the flesh from the stone. Your fingers will, however be stained when you’re done!
- The almond extract lends a remarkable flavor to this. Don’t leave it out thinking the vanilla will be enough.
- I enjoyed the turbinado (coarse raw sugar) in this, but if you prefer, regular granulated sugar is just fine.
- I served this with an Italian chocolate almond torte and the combination of flavors was excellent.
- The torte is coming soon…