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Heaven freezes over

If Willy Wonka had been smart enough to open an ice cream production company on Phuket Island...this would have been it. Tucked away in an unassuming Soi in Kamala, Flavio Manzoni and his mystical workers cheerfully beaver away at turning simple, natural ingredients into wonderment.

Dining
By David Jacklin

Saturday 21 July 2018, 09:00AM


Natural Stuffed Fruit

Natural Stuffed Fruit

Manzoni produces artisan ice cream and sorbets in the Italian gelato tradition. The set up is a small family factory, producing a stunning range of flavours and products which are purchased by and distributed to five-star hotels from Phuket to Krabi.

Goods are created to order for the absolute freshness it deserves, with clients ordering daily and receiving delivery the next.

I was handed the golden ticket to meet with the owner and company namesake, Flavio Manzoni, in the hope of gaining a peek into the secrets of his artisan gelato emporium, and with my foot in the door, plead to sample the delights.

But let’s not be too hasty to race straight for the dessert. Flavio is a man of surprises, and some opening questions into his previous history rather underestimate this claim.

Flavio Manzoni is an Italian born chef of significant note, who has also opened restaurants everywhere from America to South Africa, Seychelles, to name a few. Bangkok residents will know him from Il Tartufo (meaning The Truffle), a highly acclaimed and award-winning restaurant in the capital. More recently he was Executive Chef at Cape Sienna in Kamala.

I asked Flavio why he had decided to focus his considerable talents on creating gelato?

“The sky’s the limit”, Flavio emphatically responded. “You can make anything. I love the preparation. The smell of the fresh fruit and ingredients.”

Flavio’s passion for creating seasonal products demands that he researches and sources the very finest ingredients from around the world.

“For the best flavours you have to go by season”, he added. “I love to combine ingredients which are currently available. Whatever is there, if it’s good, you can use it.”

His attention to detail in choosing premium goods are evident in his stories of finding unique sources. As example, there is a farm in Lom Sak that grows melon near to a chilli crop. The resulting fruit is infused with the spice from sharing the soil, a one-off combination that inspires our gelato guru to manifest a worthy iced sibling.

These explorations into unusual, winning formulas have also given birth to such popular gelato flavours as Mojito for those wishing to start the party early, liquorice and sea salt for Swedish palates, and for our Japanese friends...wasabi and seaweed sorbet.

New Paths Retreat

However, it’s not just about the exotic. All the old favourites are on the menu, but be prepared to re-define your current experience of tasting ice cream.

Judging by Flavio’s passion and skill, I knew I was in for a treat. But I truly wasn’t quite prepared for this.

Firstly I was offered a Passion fruit Lollipop. The gelato is set in a circular mould and presented on a stick. Looks enticing, time for a taste. Hmm, nice sour note...and then...BAM! A powerful burst of real, fresh fruit knocks my taste buds out of the park. I’m not kidding, I physically jolted in surprise. The intensity of flavour left me grinning like a big kid. On top of this, the seeds of the fruit are, of course, left in. It’s all about keeping it “au naturel”, and it certainly adds a pleasant crunch to the texture.

Flowing out of the churning machine is a batch of Caramel gelato, and then I’m tasting it. It’s an incredibly creamy, smooth texture with a hint of ocean salt to round off the light brown scoop of delight.

It won’t surprise you to learn that all the machinery here is specialist, traditional equipment from Italy. Made the old way, where Flavio can experiment, adapt and deliver personal mixes of his cool creations.

The Natural Stuffed Fruit is delivered in the rustic shell that God intended. If you like sour, the Lemon Stuffed Fruit will give you a lasting face lift. And you’ll be delighted with the results. Coconut sorbet uses a young coconut, and it’s milky, paste-like texture contains the full qualities of the nut, including flesh pieces deliberately left where it belongs.

Manzoni’s Pistachio gelato has complex flavours. The nutty taste comes through first, followed by a delicate long note of the pistachio’s creamy finish which lingers on the palate.

The popular Belgian Chocolate gelato is richly intense and chewy due to the natural fat in the cocoa. And you won’t believe that the Chocolate sorbet is milk free. This is what individual’s with lactose allergies have only dreamt of.

And this neatly brings me on to Flavio’s commitment to provide this artisan experience to all people. All the products are gluten free, and made without adding colorant or chemicals. Soya and rice milk batches are also made on-demand. Even egg-less and sugar-free versions are available.

I’m pleased about that, because the gelato and sorbet experiences that Manzoni brings should be available to all by human right. Like Grandpa Joe in Roald Dahl’s tale about Mr Wonka, I would readily leap out of bed for a chance to taste it all again. If ice cream is your idea of Heaven, welcome to the Pearly Gates.


Manzoni Ice Cream is located at 32/30 Moo 5 Kamala, Kathu. Telephone - 066-085-6693149, email - leonardaspen@hotmail.com, web site click HERE

 

 

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