Dino Buffagni (courtesy Gelato World Tour)
In order to promote gelato—and encourage the Americas to catch up to Italy's 39,000 gelaterias (the U.S. has only 900)—the Gelato World Tour
is stopping in Millennium Park today through Sunday. Just don't call it ice cream; the organizers would be quick to tell you how gelato is different (it has less fat, less incorporated air, and is served at a slightly higher temperature). They'd also tell you that gelato is good for you
, which seems like a bit of a stretch. But if you can swallow that half-truth, it'll help justify eating your way through 16 gelatos from across North America (and one from Colombia). Participants were selected through an essay contest; the top three winners will go on to compete in the Gelato World Tour Grand Finale in Italy in September 2017.
The lineup includes two local contestants: Jessica Oloroso of Black Dog Gelato
, and Angelo Lollino and Ali Caine Hung of Vero Coffee & Gelato (inside Mariano's stores in Chicagoland). Oloroso will be serving a flavor called 606, with roasted peanuts, sweet coconut, saffron, honey, curry powder, vanilla, ginger, and caramelized cashews. Lollino and Hung have created Chicago Pothole with cocoa, chocolate sauce, roasted and caramelized pecans, dark chocolate chunks, and marshmallow-inspired meringue. Other flavors also pay tribute to Chicago, like Windy City S'mores (which uses marshmallows from the local Katherine Anne Confections). An Ottawa gelateria will be serving a concoction made with pecans candied in Quebec maple syrup and Koval bourbon.
Admission is free, but if you want to try the gelatos (and really, why else would you be there?) you'll need to buy tasting tickets. Ten bucks gets you eight tastes and proceeds go to the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. There are also talks, demos, and workshops on topics including gelato history and how to design a successful gelato shop.
Fri 5/27-Sun 5/29, noon-8 PM, Millennium Park, Chase Promenade, between Randolph and Monroe, gelatoworldtour.com, free admission, sample ticket $10.