Ari's Top 5

Pistachio Gelato from the Creamery

An even better pistachio ups the ante

Natural Law #8 states: “To get to greatness, you need to keep getting better all the time.” And it’s a small, but still meaningful, implementation of that universal principle of good business that prompted me to put the pistachio gelato in this week’s notes—what was always really good, is now even better still. As the amazing writer Angelo Pellegrini once put it so beautifully, “I have sought and found the significance latent in little things.”

Pistachio Gelato

If I had to choose ten items to include on a list of unrecognized culinary wonders at Zingerman’s, this stuff would pretty surely be on it. The Creamery’s Pistachio Gelato is a gem. I almost never eat ice cream, but this stuff is special. It tastes of pistachios, not of sugar, and a single spoonful is like a symphony, an explosion of flavor in every bite.

For years we used a pure pistachio paste from Italy—100% pure pistachios to make the gelato. (Because we use no food coloring, the gelato is probably as much, or more, pale brown than it is green.) The flavor was terrific; clean, nutty, like toasted pistachios. This past year though, we took our quality standard another few steps forward by starting to use a paste made solely from the ultra-special Bronte pistachios from Sicily. Known as “the green gold of the pistachio world,” Brontes are subtly sweet, intensely nutty, and make for some truly exceptional eating. The gelato tastes a bit like it’s been delicately seasoned with spices, but the flavor is all from pistachios.

If you aren’t familiar with Bronte pistachios, they’re THE pistachio of Sicily, and really one of the most highly prized nuts in the world. A brilliant, almost luminescent green mottled with reds and browns, they’re very special, and also extremely expensive. Pistachios were precious in the Middle East even in Biblical times—Jacob offered some (along with honey, almonds, and myrrh) to Pharaoh to buy his way out of slavery. Pistachios were brought to Sicily from the Middle East in ancient times, and their cultivation was highly encouraged by the island’s Arab rulers in the 9th century. The volcanic soil of the Bronte district in eastern Sicily proved itself particularly appropriate for the pistachios. The region quickly became famous for its nuts, and at one time nearly all the pistachios in Italy came from the area.

Today Bronte produces a mere 1 percent of the world’s pistachios—the vast majority now come from Iran, Turkey, and the U.S. But the Bronte pistachio is special. Author, ice cream expert, and pastry chef David Lebovitz said that, “Until you’ve seen the pistacia vera, the true nut of Bronte, and better still, cooked with them, you really don’t know pistachios.” The Bronte is renowned for its brilliant green color—going on color or cost I suppose you could say that they’re emeralds of the nut world. But it’s not all about appearances—the Bronte’s flavor is just as special; a bit bigger, bolder, and more forward than its more frequently eaten Middle Eastern cousins.

Swing by the Cream Top Shop or the Roadhouse, and grab some of this special gelato.

Pick Up a Pint!