Monday, October 20, 2008

Too much of a very good thing!

Remember the strasberries? Remember Shelagh’s ice-cream recipes web-site? Well, I’ve just participated in another ice-cream venture and it’s left me a little . . . no, we won’t anticipate. Let’s start at the beginning.

Poor Shelagh, I felt so sorry for her. There she was, up in Cumbria, with a master gelatiere, Gino Soldan, coming to display his talents in Morelli’s Gelato at Harrods. Had it been humanly possible for her to get here, I know she would. As it was, all she could do was to phone and enlist the help of someone who, although possessing a camera, had very limited knowledge on the subject of ice-cream.

“Could you,” she’d asked hopefully down the ‘phone, “go to Harrods whilst Gino is there to take his photograph? He’s agreed to be featured on the website, and a photo . . . perhaps two photos . . . would make all the difference . . . ?”
“Of course,” I’d agreed, “I’ll be happy to go.”

And I was happy to go. The assignment intrigued me. I’d never met a master gelatiere, I hadn’t even known there were such people.
It would be fascinating to meet him . . . to see his creations.
“I told him that you've worked for the BBC,” Shelagh had said, “this will give you credibility.”
I was a little worried about this aspect of the story. It's many years since I worked for the BBC. Might he expect coverage on the BBC News?
But I put this thought to one side. All I had to do was to take some photos . . . it should be simplicity itself.

Yes, I know, you’re smiling to yourself, anticipating complications! How right you are!
In accepting this assignment, it hadn't dawned on me that it would involve not only taking photos, but also consuming ice-cream . . . consuming vast quantities of ice-cream!

Gino, a charming as well as a talented man, was on the look-out for a woman with a camera. Barely had I taken three exploratory photos when he came across to speak to me. Willingly, he agreed to having his photo taken, but, clearly thinking that my knowledge of ice-cream ranked alongside that of Shelagh, insisted that I sampled one of his creations.
“A gift, from me. . . .” he insisted, “for the BBC!”
It would have been impossible to refuse. And, after all, who could want to refuse such a generous offer?
I thanked him and took my place on a high stool by the counter.
The ice-cream concoction took at least ten minutes to create. Finally, Gino reappeared bearing his masterpiece infront of him.
My face must have conveyed my feelings! It was magnificent . . . it was an incredible feat of inspiration and ingenuity. How could so much ice-cream . . . so much fruit . . . be contained in one glass bowl . . . ? But, equally, how on earth could I ever devour such a banquet?!

In half-an-hour I'd consumed as much ice-cream as I've eaten in the past five years! Not only that, every mouthful was eaten under the anxious, watchful gaze of the gentleman who'd created it . . . did I like it . . . what did I think of it . . . would I like some more . . . ?

At first I tucked in with genuine enjoyment, but, as you can see, it was a very generous creation. There was vanilla ice-cream . . . whipped cream . . . shortbread ice-cream . . . strawberries . . . blackberries . . . chocolate . . . coffee sauce . . . raspberries . . . banana ice-cream . . . do I need to continue?
What's more, I had to enjoy, and appear to enjoy, every mouthful. There was never the slightest question of not finishing it.
Finally, as I gulped down the last spoonful, Gino relaxed a little.
"You liked it . . . yes?"
"It was delicious . . . " I assured him.
"You live close? You come on Thursday, we have a special new blend . . . ?"
I gave what I hope was a grateful, appreciative smile . . . and fled!

So, please, for just a while, don't mention whipped cream . . . or clotted cream . . . and definitely not ice-cream!
Never has a period of stringent fasting sounded more attractive!