Ethereal, whimsical, daring, and just plain delicious — Ottawa Magazine’s summer ’101 Tastes’ issue provides the ultimate must-try list for local gourmands. Try all 101. Available on newsstands throughout July and August, or order online.
#1. Pistachio gelato from Gelatini Gelato
What price elbow grease? Well, get yourself a cone of Gelatini’s pistachio gelato and find out. We ask Gelatini’s owner, Monica Pilotti, why on earth she shells the pistachios by hand. And why squeeze lemons one by one with that little glass reamer? Is she not aware there are machines for these purposes?
She smiles ruefully, as though she knows that the answer proves she never went to business school. “I found the lemon juice bitter when I used the electric machines. And the shellers impart a metallic tang to the ice cream that takes away from the purity of the pistachio flavour.” Right. So the nuts are roasted and then shelled by hand, and the lemons are squeezed the way our grandmas did it, and that’s just the way it is when you care deeply about your product. You taste that care: hands down, the best pistachio gelato in the city. From $3.50. Gelatini Gelato, 344 Preston St., 613-235-8050. ~ Anne DesBrisay
#2. Black sesame ice cream
It looks like a ball of road tar. It smells a bit of singed toast. It might require some courage to deliver spoon to mouth. Once managed, you’ll discover a taste that’s rich, gritty, and deliciously unsugary, with a powerful campfire finish. We like the Hime brand, served at finer restaurants. $4.99. Find it at Kowloon Market, 712 Somerset St. W., 613-233-1108, or T&T Supermarket, 224 Hunt Club Rd., 613-731-8113. ~ Anne DesBrisay
#3. Merry Dairy frozen custard
Listen for the old-fashioned ice cream truck chimes in Hintonburg (often) but roving neighbourhoods all around Ottawa (sometimes). Cool, creamy custard comes in vanilla (always) and chocolate (sometimes). $3.50. www.themerrydairy.com. ~ Shawna Wagman