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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Sydney: Gelato Messina Darlinghurst

I'm not much of an ice-cream person.

I know, I know: disgrace to womankind, blah blah. (For the record, and in my defense, I am definitely a chocolate kind of a person.)

HOWEVER, when there is awesomeness available (usually less often in stock-standard, over-sugary, too-creamy versions of ice-cream, and more often in unusual-flavoured, fresh, fruity, beautiful-consistency gelato kinds), I will partake. Willingly.

When in Sydney, I usually hover around the inner-Eastern suburbs, and it's not unusual for me to be on Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, at least once most days. And there, right in the guts, not far from the corner of Liverpool Street, is Gelato Messina, one of the better (and most-revered) frozen-sweetness-peddlers in the country.

Gelato Messina, 241-243 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst

Nick Palumbo's obsession with gelato began as a teen. In 2002, he established Gelato Messina and is still a co-owner. Number 241 Victoria Street is Gelato Messina's retail home, while number 243 houses the "Creative Department", known as The Messina Laboratorio and Pattisserie, where ultra-creative "mono-portioned pieces" are developed ("single-serve pieces", to you and me). Additional outlets can be found in Pyrmont, Surry Hills and Bondi, all with very respectable opening hours of at least midday til late (like all good vice-dealers), and you can also buy online.

So hard to choose

Messina's first Melbourne outlet is set to open on Smith Street, Fitzroy, tomorrow (14 November 2013), headed up by Simone Panetta. This neatly coincides with Messina's participation in Melbourne's inaugural Good Food Month's Night Noodle Markets (18-30 November 2013), and the release earlier this year of its cookbook, Gelato Messina: The Recipes (available through Hardie Grant).

Poster for the Messina cookbook in a Gertrude Street,
Fitzroy bookstore window

Messina's focus is on quality, variety, and World Domination. It offers over 40 flavours at any one time, retaining favourites but constantly switching others up wherever possible, and has produced 900 flavours to date. Real ingredients are used, to "achieve full bodied texture and flavour", according to the website. Last time I was at the Darlinghurst shop, some of the tantalising options available were:

  • Apple Pie
  • Coconut and Lychee
  • Panacotta with Fig Jam and Amaretti
  • Poached Figs in Marsala
  • Pear and Rhubarb
  • Salted Coconut and Mango
  • Pandan and Coconut
  • Cherry
  • Lamington
  • Banana Caramel Cheesecake
  • Blueberry Sorbet
  • Burnt Caramel and Ginger

...Seriously. Is your mouth watering yet? Isn't this just ridiculous? SO much tantalisation.

I tried Salted Coconut and Mango (oh my GOD); my dad opted for Choc Chip in a traditional waffle cone; and my sister lucked out with a sample of one-off flavour "Lamington", almost as big as a whole serve, because they were about to finish the tub. It's not cheap, but by fancy ice-cream standards, it ain't bad, and it's so worth it. Plus, the take-home packs work out to be quite economical.

Lamington for the tongue

Choc chip for the bearded one

Salted caramel... 

...and MANGO

I also really like Messina's branding - but then, I'm a sucker for anything red or vaguely Art Deco looking. It's stylish, eye-popping design which brings an element of fun to what is actually quite a traditional and scientific process. Nicely played, Messina.

Feature wall at Gelato Messina Darlinghurst

Well on the way to World Domination, I'd say.

Gelato Messina Darlinghurst on Urbanspoon