Insider Edition: Our guide to great ice cream and gelato in Ottawa

Looking for the best spots to get a cool treat this summer? Look no further than these places around our city.

Ralf Joneikies
02 Jun

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Good morning, 

For a time it appeared that gardeners everywhere might get an early start planting but then we had a spell of rain. Things are looking up for getting our crops into the soil and I do encourage those who have balconies to try a little gardening as well. Apart from tasty chemical-free vegetables and herbs, there’s a meditative quality to gardening that is purely rejuvenating.

Today we explore:

  • A timely tour of world-class regional gelato and ice cream businesses;
  • A beer destination in Aylmer
  • And some local restaurant news that includes Ottawa restaurants that made it into Canada’s Top 100 list.

Let’s get started…

—Ralf Joneikies, food and drink editor

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Cool capital indulgence

Paola Paul, the owner of Mantovani 1946
Paola Paul, the owner of Mantovani 1946. Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout

Years back a dear friend, famous for charcuterie and of whom the New York Times said, “he may be the most gifted, and certainly the most diversely talented meat man in North America,” told me upon returning from a food trade show in Frankfurt, “The science is now so sophisticated that even I have trouble telling the difference between properly cured charcuterie and those that have undergone some kind of chemical process.” Troubling.

I’ve been to a few of these trade shows and at one booth, watched a demonstration for an Italian gelato product. A large mylar bag of powder had its contents dumped into the top of a gelato machine filled with milk. A while later freshly made gelato was piped into cups for the assembled to enjoy.

I’m not certain of how much of anything “natural” was contained in the powder but typically you can expect sugars, flavouring, colour, stabilizers and emulsifiers and the results are sometimes a little too brightly coloured. The best gelateria and ice cream shops will use proper and more expensive fruit purees and nut pastes for their products.

Now as to the differences between gelato and ice cream, it’s really a matter of where you need to cut back: fats or sugars. Although gelato can have more sugar, ice cream has more butterfat at 10 percent or above, whereas gelato typically sits at between four and nine percent. Then there’s the matter of mouthfeel or texture. Gelato is more dense and ice cream has air whipped into it making for a faster melt.

Below you’ll find a list of preferred shops that will make the summer days a little more enjoyable and while there are no guarantees, I’m confident of the flavours and that these places are doing it right.

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