These hot summer days are made for gelato. Gone are the days when you'd cool down with a Zooper Dooper or a Sunny Boy. Today's kids - both big and small - are more likely to be clamouring for the cold satisfaction of freshly churned gelato. Unless you've been completely off Instagram, Ciccone & Sons must have registered on your radar. After opening up shop in the depths of winter, they've become Sydney's most popular kid on the block as we hit heatwave season.
Whimsical decor inside Ciccone & Sons
The small and unassuming shopfront sits among a neighbourhood of 2nd-hand shops and neighbourhood fruit shops and bakeries on Redfern's Regent Street. Floor-to-ceiling glass folding doors offer a peek inside for passing drivers. The decor is a charming mix of memorabilia, including vintage posters, an old-fashioned cash register, bunting and an intriguing pair of boys lederhosen. Two long benches provide a communal rest stop for gelato customers, but the majority of people seem happy to takeaway with cones and cups in hand.
The handwritten gelato and sorbetto menu changes daily
The menu changes daily, always handwritten on the clipboard outside - and on a giant scroll of brown butchers paper by the register - and always includes at least one sorbetto.
Mark Megahey, co-owner of Ciccone & Sons
Chances are you'll find co-owner, Mark Megahey, inside the shop, a veteran gelato maker who racked up 15 years at Bar Italia in Leichhardt before opening his own business with business partner Sean O’Brien.
Croccantino gelato with toffee and almonds
What sets apart Ciccone & Sons from so many other gelato makers is their use of jersey milk for a creamier texture. They also make all of their flavourings inhouse, avoiding the use of any pre-made bases or pastes. The small batch gelato run - made using two old-fashioned Carpigiani churners - means flavours are often exhausted before the day is out.
Creme brulee gelato
That means the chest freezer of gelato changes daily with occasional wackier flavour combos including pear and riesling; lavender and white chocolate; cucumber and rosemary; and lemon and maple. Seasonal specials so far have included whisky brulee for Fathers Day, pumpkin and burnt butter for Halloween; and burnt butter and gingerbread for Christmas. If you can't decide, they'll happily provide tastings to help you choose - although most of the time, this tends to only complicate, rather than simplify matters!
Mascarpone & strawberry and buttermilk & passionfruit gelato $6.50 for 2 scoops
Pepe Saya products are the secret behind the rich and buttery flavour of the mascarpone and strawberry gelato, as well as the buttermilk and passionfruit gelato. The buttermilk is one of my current favourites, its slightly yoghurty tang providing supreme refreshment on a hot summer's day.
Mascarpone & strawberry gelato
And you can taste the milky richness from the Pepe Say mascarpone too. The strawberry puree folded through it has a clean berry taste that isn't too sweet or too sour.
Coffee and croccantino $6.50 for two scoops
The coffee gelato is an instant flashback for anyone who ordered the coffee gelato at Bar Italia. It's intensely caffeinated, with a gusty bitterness. Add this to an iced coffee and you are set.
The croccantino is ideal for toffee and nut fans, a rubble of hazelnut and almond praline adding textural crunch.
Mascarpone & strawberry gelato $4 for one scoop
Have we talked about price yet? $4 feels like a steal for a single scoop of jersey milk gelato, especially when the single cup is ridiculously piled up high. Two scoops will cost you $6.50. They also offer take home tubs for at-home dining pleasure.
Coffee gelato and salted cashew gelato $6.50 for two scoops
Salted cashew gelato is an addictive combination of salty and sweet, against a buttery background of cashew nuts.
Creme brulee gelato and buttermilk & passionfruit gelato $6.50 for two scoops
And the creme brulee gelato is pretty spectacular, glistening shards of golden toffee interspersed among the dulce de leche base.
Buttermilk & passionfruit gelato and gianduja gelato $6.50 for two scoops
And Nutella fans will dig the gianduja gelato, a smooth mix of chocolate and hazelnut.
Mango sorbet $4 for one scoop cone
For a fruitier or dairy-free hit, the mango sorbet screams a classic Aussie summer.
Watermelon and lime sorbet $4 for one scoop cone
And on one of several visits, I found satisfying refreshment in the watermelon and lime sorbet, spiked with a chilli hit that let the tongue with a confused tingling of both spice and coldness.
Fridge with Pepe Saya buttermilk, mascarpone, creme fraiche and butter and Sungold jersey milk
The fridge doubles as a handy pit-stop for stocking up on Sungold jersey milk or a comprehensive range of Pepe Saya products, especially his butter and proper buttermilk.
Friends who eat gelato together, stay together
And as the mercury climbs higher in the coming weeks, I expect to find myself stopping by with increasing frequency. I couldn't be happier at the thought.
Ciccone & Sons Gelateria
195 Regent Street, Redfern, Sydney
Wednesday to Saturday 11am-9pm
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12/20/2015 02:22:00 am