Iorio's Gelato Blog

Gelatista Recommended Flavor Combinations

So many flavors, so little time. We know that it can be overwhelming when you have to choose your gelato flavors. We try to make it easier by giving you as many samples as you need to make the decision, but it is still really difficult! 

Nobody knows gelato better than our gelatistas; so we  asked them what their favorite gelato flavor combinations are, to make your job a bit easier. 

 

Other gelatista favorites include

  • Green Tea+Mango
  • Violet+Raspberry
  • Key Lime Pie+Fior
  • Banana Caramel Pie+Dark Chocolate
  • Raspberry+Matcha
  • Salted Caramel+Chocolate+Hazelnut

Ask your gelatista what his or her favorite flavor combination is!

 

Brew Methods

When somebody asks you to make them a cup of coffee, what do you usually do? Most people would say pop a pod in their Keurig these days. There is nothing wrong with Keurig coffee, some of it can be pretty good, but there are so many other great ways to brew individual cups of  coffee. At our East Lansing location we serve up coffee from the French Press, AeroPress, Chemex and Pour Over Method! We also sell your standard large batch brews.

Let’s explore the different ways to brew!

Chemex

 The method that produces the lightest brew is the Chemex brew. It is often compared to tea in the way that it is brewed and its consistency. It uses a triple filter, which removes the majority of the oils and acidity. The filter is placed in the Chemex, and wet to stay in place. The coffee beans are ground to a 6.5 grind (medium grind), the grinds are wet and allowed to bloom. Blooming is the initial contact of the hot water on the beans in which the trapped CO2 which holds the flavor is released. After the bloom, the rest of the water is poured over the grounds in one pour and the coffee is allowed to filter through. The light brew is easiest to drink and very smooth. For the demonstration a Costa Rican Roast with velvety, dark cherry undertones was used.

 

 

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The Pour Over Method is very similar in theory to the Chemex. It produces a slightly heavier cup of coffee than the Chemex. It does not use the triple filter system that the Chemex does, and uses a slightly finer grind of 5. The brew process is identical, but the grind and filter paper change the smoothness and consistency of the brew. A Guatemalan Roast with orange and chamomile flover tones was used in this demonstration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Press

A popular method is the French Press. This produces the fullest bodied brew. This is because no filter paper is used, allowing the oils to remain in the final product. The French Press uses the coarsest grounds of all of our brew methods, with a grind setting of 9. The grounds are poured into the bottom of the press and the bloom pour marks the start of the brewing process, followed by the rest of the hot water. The press is then pushed down approximately one inch from the water line then when the steep time is complete it is pressed down the rest of the way to filter the grounds, then decanted to serve. A rich, toasty French Roast was used in this demonstration.

 

 

AeroPress

Our final brew method is similar to the French Press but looks very unique. The AeroPress has a devoted following of drinker and produces a single cup, while the other methods typically produce 1 ½ to 2 cups. It was also created by the same man who invented the frisbee! This process is done in an inverted fashion, meaning that the brewed coffee comes out the bottom, rather than being poured from the top. A filter is placed in the perforated cap of the AeroPress. Coffee ground at the 6 setting are poured into the upside down press followed by hot water. The cap is replaced onto the system and the system quickly flipped onto a waiting cup. The plunger is pressed down and mid bodied brewed coffee flows out of the filter and perforated cap onto the cup. For this final demonstration we used a Mokha Java Roast.

 

If you can't decide what brew and roast to try, play our dice game to find the perfect new combination, or ask a Gelatista what his or her favorite combination is. Next time you need your coffee to start up your day, consider trying something new!

Gelatista of the Month

Congratulations to our Gelatistas of the Month

For our East Lansing Location, Cammi

For our East Lansing Location, Cammi

and for our Ann Arbor location Mysha

What is your passion in life?

C: Teaching

What is your favorite drink served at Iorio's? 

C: Vanilla peach tea latte with almond milk

If you were stuck on a deserted island what are three things you would bring with you? 

C: A first aid kit, matches, and a knife

What is a place that you would like to visit? 

C: Sacramento, California

Gelato or coffee

C: Gelato

 

Thank you ladies for all of your hard work!

Gelatistas of the Month

Congratulations to our Gelatistas of the Month!

For our East Lansing location, Ashley!

For our East Lansing location, Ashley!

For our Ann Arbor location, Elena!

For our Ann Arbor location, Elena!

How long have you worked for Iorio’s?

A: I've worked at Iorio's EL since it opened in Nov. 2015.

E: I started working at Iorio's last May, so I've been working here for almost a year.

Where do you attend school and what are you majoring in?

A: I attend MSU and am a double major Criminal Justice and Psychology

E: I go to the University of Michigan and I'll be graduating this semester with a major in Gender & Health

What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?

A: My favorite thing to do with my spare time is to come pester whoever is working in the store at that time, or go to the gym.

E: I really like doing yoga.

What is your favorite gelato flavor?

A: My favorite gelato flavor is Pistachio!

E: My all time favorite gelato flavor is limoncello and I love pairing it with Mexican vanilla.

If you could only drink one coffee drink for the rest of your life what would it be?

A: It would definitely be an iced soy latte. 

E: If I could only have one coffee drink for the rest of my life, I would probably choose a cappuccino. 

Chilling out this Spring!

Spring is here! That means flowers, rain, cool breezes and sunshine. You may be thinking that drinking a hot latte is not appropriate for this kind of weather, so our gelatistas wanted to give you some options to consider. All week on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram we have been hinting at this blog post, so here it is!

The first drink is sweet with a hint of nuttiness and suggested by our Ann Arbor location gelatista, Katie Beth. The Iced Nutella Latte is cold milk (or milk alternative), espresso and Nutella. It is good if you like sweet espresso beverages and perfect for our Nutella enthusiasts!

The first drink is sweet with a hint of nuttiness and suggested by our Ann Arbor location gelatista, Katie Beth. The Iced Nutella Latte is cold milk (or milk alternative), espresso and Nutella. It is good if you like sweet espresso beverages and perfect for our Nutella enthusiasts!

The most unique option is a Coca-Cola over ice with a shot of espresso. I was hesitant to try this but our East Lansing gelatista insisted that I would love it. She was right! It was the perfect combination of the tanginess of Coca-Cola and the espresso aftertaste. It takes a brave person to try it, but is 100% worth it.

The most unique option is a Coca-Cola over ice with a shot of espresso. I was hesitant to try this but our East Lansing gelatista insisted that I would love it. She was right! It was the perfect combination of the tanginess of Coca-Cola and the espresso aftertaste. It takes a brave person to try it, but is 100% worth it.

Our Ann Arbor store manager Matt, loves a cold brew over ice with a shot of chocolate and caramel sauce. This drink would have a stronger coffee taste than a latte, which includes milk, but the sweetness of the sauces balances it out nicely. If you have a long day ahead of you and need some caffeine, this is the drink for you.

Our Ann Arbor store manager Matt, loves a cold brew over ice with a shot of chocolate and caramel sauce. This drink would have a stronger coffee taste than a latte, which includes milk, but the sweetness of the sauces balances it out nicely. If you have a long day ahead of you and need some caffeine, this is the drink for you.

My own suggestion is an Earl Grey Tea over ice with honey and soy milk. It is a really refreshing creamy beverage with a very unique flavor. I drink it every day, even in the winter. It is a good option for our non-coffee drinkers out there. If Earl Grey isn’t the tea for you, try any of our available hot teas over ice.

My own suggestion is an Earl Grey Tea over ice with honey and soy milk. It is a really refreshing creamy beverage with a very unique flavor. I drink it every day, even in the winter. It is a good option for our non-coffee drinkers out there. If Earl Grey isn’t the tea for you, try any of our available hot teas over ice.

Our final gelatista suggestion comes from Rachel in East Lansing. She likes the Iced Caffe Miele, which is an iced latte with honey and cinnamon. This sweet approach to your morning will leave you feeling ready to take on the day, but without the sugar rush.

Our final gelatista suggestion comes from Rachel in East Lansing. She likes the Iced Caffe Miele, which is an iced latte with honey and cinnamon. This sweet approach to your morning will leave you feeling ready to take on the day, but without the sugar rush.

If you have any questions about iced beverages, or you want to know if your favorite hot beverage can be made cold, ask your gelatista!


Grazie!

Can gelato predict the next President of the United States?

We think so.

Though this year’s Presidential campaign has been quite sour we’re doing our part to sweeten it up! This week we released two new election-themed gelato flavors, “Cookies and Clinton” and “Trump’s Rocky Road”, and are inviting people to vote with their tastebuds.

The two flavors were chosen soliciting ideas from the community in conjunction with working with our head gelato chef:

Cookies & Clinton

Don’t let the name fool you, this is no safe or normal Cookies & Cream flavor. A Mexican vanilla gelato filled with five different types of cookies, this flavor is full of secrets! Just like any good campaign some of these secret cookies maybe will be disclosed as we get closer to the election, so you can find out what makes this flavor dangerously good!

Trump's Rocky Road

A twist on the classic Rocky Road flavor, the biggest difference is that Trump’s version contains LOTS and LOTS of NUTS! Trump’s Rocky Road is made with a milk white chocolate gelato featuring a specialty nut blend, including roasted almonds, pecans, and peanuts. Along with a scattering of orange-tinted marshmallows, this rocky road is very much Trump's Rocky Road.

Cookies & Clinton features 5 secret cookies, and Trump's Rocky Road, has TONS of nuts!

Cookies & Clinton features 5 secret cookies, and Trump's Rocky Road, has TONS of nuts!

Everyone is invited to vote!

Unlike the real Presidential election we’re allowing everyone to vote. Yes, that’s right. No age limits. No citizenship restrictions. Everyone gets their say.

There are several ways to vote:

  1. Vote online.

  2. Vote with your tastebuds. Come buy a cup of your favorite gelato flavor at one of our gelateria cafes or order online and get the flavor of your choosing delivered to your door.

By voting for a flavor before election day voters will be entered to win a free case of the election gelato flavor of their choosing!

Want more gelato? Spread the vote!

If you’re a company or organization you are invited to share the Election Gelato Campaign with your office for a chance to win a FREE office gelato party. Just send an email to mary@ioriosgelato.com with your company name, and share with your team, making sure your team members use their official company email address. Each team member who votes earns your company an additional chance to win the FREE gelato party!

Winners will be announced on Election Day

Polls close noon on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8. Then we’ll count up the votes and release the winning gelato flavor. Then we’ll all get to see if the winning gelato flavor corresponds with the winning U.S. President!

Here's to a sweeter Presidential Election!

 

We were thrilled to welcome back some of our favorite gelatista alums during this year's Ann Arbor Art Fair. Manager Alex Scharf sat down with one Iorio's alum, Robert Pan, to see what he's been up to since he ventured out into the real world.

When did you work at Iorio's?

I started at Iorio's May, 2012 and put in my last formal shift around April, 2015 (I think?). I like to stay in touch though. I also wouldn't call it work!

What have you been up to since?

I graduated from U of M shortly after leaving Iorio's and then shipped out to Chicago to start my job as a consultant at The Boston Consulting Group. I also traveled quite a bit during that time and took separate trips to China and Vietnam.

How did you end up there? 

I majored in Business at U of M and didn't really know what I wanted to do so I just picked the job in which I could do a bit of everything - Consulting. Chicago was also a pretty easy location pick for the next phase of my life; love that city.

Have you been back to Ann Arbor since? What brought you back?

I try to go back to Ann Arbor pretty frequently, it's not too far from Chicago and I conveniently travel to Michigan for work some weeks. I go back to visit my parents and my dog but I definitely go back for the gelato too. In fact, I was just back in Ann Arbor a few weeks ago to help out Iorio's with the Ann Arbor Art Fair in mid-July!

What is your favorite flavor of gelato?

Wow, really tough question. I guess if I had to choose...I'd go with the Nutella Cheesecake. 

Yes or yes, Iorio's is the best job you've ever had?

To be fair, I don't really consider Iorio's a job; scaping gelato isn't work! But yes, Iorio's has been better than any other job that I've had.
 

5 things I've learned from 5 years of owning a gelato shop in Ann Arbor

 This year marks five years in our beloved store in downtown Ann Arbor. We've learned so much and are so grateful to the community that has made it all possible. Check out this insightful and inspiring piece, written by our very own Mary Lemmer, on a few things she has learned over the past five years.

 

Today we are celebrating Iorio’s Gelateria’s five year anniversary in Ann Arbor. It’s hard to believe it’s already been five years in Ann Arbor and even harder to believe I’ve been in the gelato business for fifteen years. It seems like just yesterday we were pulling all nighters and sleeping on bean bags, so we could open by our target yet. Doing anything for fifteen years could make me feel old, but we hire a lot of college students, and they keep me young. I also continue to learn in this business.

To celebrate five years in Ann Arbor, in addition to the free gelato we’re handing out from noon to 5 p.m. at our Ann Arbor location, I want to share five things I’ve learned over the past five years as a gelato business owner in Ann Arbor:

  1. People make all the difference. In Ann Arbor we are surrounded by some of the world’s best and brightest. University of Michigan students have contributed significantly to the success of the business and have certainly made it a fun atmosphere to be around. Our team comprises students from all over the university - business, engineering, music, art history, romance languages - all with at least one thing in common - the appreciation and interest in the Italian gelato culture and bringing that experience to the masses in a way that is positive, supportive, and creative.
  2. It's more than scooping gelato. That’s because it’s called scaping. It’s more than a job though. It’s a family. Years after our team members graduate from the University of Michigan, move away from Ann Arbor, go work some big corporate gig, they stay in touch and even want to still be involved in the business. Because it was more than a job. It’s a family. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow with other ambitious young people. During the Ann Arbor Art Fair this year we brought back several alumni staff to spend the week with us. We rented a house and enjoyed the hot Art Fair days, reminiscing on old memories, and building new ones. Because we are a family.
  3. It's about the experience. Someday I’ll share the countless examples of why experience matters more than anything else. Our gelato is good. Heck it’s more than good, it’s great. But it’s more than the gelato. It’s about walking through the front door and instantly feeling like you’re stepping into a gelateria in Florence. It’s about hearing the knowledgeable gelatista explain the flavor “stracciatella”. It’s about sampling every flavor and then deciding to get just one in a cup, or fitting all 24 flavors in one cup because you can’t choose just one or two or three even. It’s about not knowing how to pronounce everything you see on the menu board (“piccolo” is pronounced “peek a low” for instance) and not knowing what every word means, and enjoying the feeling of getting lost in another culture for even just a minute. It’s this experience that sets us apart from any other ice cream or gelato shop. It’s why people come once and come often.
  4. Commit. Believe in your goals and deadline. People will tell you it’s impossible. Ignore them. Or rather, listen to them, but keep pushing forward anyways. We set an aggressive timeline. We started construction in at the beginning of the year with the goal to open by the first day of Art Fair in mid July. We had more doubters than believers, but that didn’t stop us. We made our opening date. Granted, we didn’t have chairs, but standing is better for us anyways, right?
  5. It's a sticky business. Gelato is sticky. It melts. That is all.

We couldn’t have done this alone. Outside of the immediate Iorio’s team we have been so fortunate to form an extended family of incredible people supporting us along the way. There are too many to name. You know who you are and you may or may not get a grazie card in the mail!

Grazie to all of our fans, supports, gelato eaters in Ann Arbor and otherwise. If you’ve ever stepped foot inside Iorio’s Gelateria in Ann Arbor, grazie. If you haven’t, there’s still time. We’re planning on another 5 years

Grazie Ann Arbor, vive la dolce vita,

Mary

_____
For those of you who don’t know, when we opened Iorio’s Gelateria in Ann Arbor

I was teaching cycling classes at 6 am, spending my days at RPM Ventures, and my nights at an old cell phone accessory store, with a vision to transform

it into an authentic Italian gelateria experience.

Nick was managing the University of Michigan women’s basketball team, and (sometimes) going to classes.

Free Gelato from Iorio’s Gelateria on Friday, July 29th!

To celebrate its 5-year anniversary in Ann Arbor, Iorio’s Gelateria is handing out free gelato from noon to 5 pm on Friday, July 29.

For the past five years we’ve enjoyed Iorio’s artisan gelato and to celebrate their five years in Ann Arbor Iorio’s Gelateria is offering free gelato to the Ann Arbor community! To celebrate its fifth year in business, Iorio’s Gelateria is handing out free gelato from noon to 5 pm on Friday, July 29. Join Iorio’s Gelateria at 522 E William St to celebrate five years of great gelato in Ann Arbor, and hopefully another five years of even more gelato flavors to try!

“We wanted to do something to thank the Ann Arbor community, which has supported us over the past five years,” owners Mary and Nick Lemmer said about the event.

Inspired by their family’s Italian heritage, brother-sister duo, Mary and Nick Lemmer, opened Iorio’s in Ann Arbor in 2011. The business began when Mary started an Italian ice food cart in 2004 while attending high school in Lansing, Michigan. The business has since grown to the store in Ann Arbor and another store in East Lansing, where they make their gelato using traditional Italian methods and fresh, natural, and local ingredients. The gelateria was designed by award-winning architect, Neal Robinson, and has received the American Institute of Architects (of Huron Valley) Design Excellence Award.

Both siblings will be at the anniversary celebration to meet the community and personally serve gelato and coffee drinks to guests.

Please contact Mary Lemmer at 517-927- 8196 for any additional questions or information.

#AnnArbor #ArtFair2016 #TBT

It's that time of year again... wind chimes, jewelry, sculptures and white tents as far as the eye can see. It's ART FAIR 2016! To kick off this year's art fair (which begins today!), we want to share with you some photos from last year's art fair and let you know about some of the exclusive and delicious treats we'll be serving up throughout the week!

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In addition to our tried and true gelato and espresso, come by the store today through Sunday to check out our special Art Fair menu:

  • Handmade Popsicles
  • Gelato Shakes
  • Sorbetto Freezes
  • Cookie Sandwiches
  • Zingerman's Retail Coffee

The Ann Arbor Art Fair 2016 will be up and running Thursday, July 21st through Sunday, July 23rd from 10 AM until 9 PM and Sunday, July 24th from 12 PM until 6 PM.

We hope to see you there! :)

 

 

Why we love Mindo Chocolate and why you should love it, too!

What do Iorio’s Gelateria and Mindo Chocolate Makers have in common? Both appreciate the art of gourmet-dessert making; both use ~real~ ingredients, which means nothing artificial; and both teams are small, local businesses with global images. Though you may already be familiar with the Iorio’s team and our gelato-making mission, let us acquaint you with the Mindo Chocolate Makers of Dexter, Michigan!

In 2007, two Ann Arbor residents, Barbara and Jose, decided to leave the auto-repair shop that they owned together and move to Ecuador. The two established their home near the small town of Mindo and opened up an internet cafe. At the cafe, the pair started to serve locally-grown coffee and Barbara’s homemade brownies. These brownies were not only coveted by locals but also a hit among the tourists. Barbara soon discovered that there was not enough quality chocolate in Ecuador to meet the demand for her brownies. Instead of travelling from Michigan to Mindo with pounds of chocolate to make her brownies, Barbara decided to make her own chocolate in Ecuador. This was just the beginning.

Jose and Barbara then got into the art of processing chocolate. They teamed with local farmers and established facilities in Mindo to make this wonderful chocolate treat. This is how Jose and Barbara earned their name of the Mindo Chocolate Makers.

Luckily for us, Jose and Barbara took this local business global. In 2009, they opened Mindo Chocolate Makers in Dexter, Michigan. Since then, Jose and Barbara have taken their chocolate bars to dozens of retailers around the state--Iorio’s included! How do they make their chocolate bars so delicious?

In order to keep the bars wholesome and pure, Mindo Chocolate Makers use heirloom beans harvested from Aribba Nacional in Ecuador. The beans are harvested by local farmers, and Mindo ensures that they are paid more than the fair-trade price! Once the fruit and beans are harvested, they are fermented for 4-8 days. After fermentation, the cocoa beans are dried in the sun for 10-20 days and then roasted.

Once meticulously harvested, dried, fermented, and roasted, the beans are sent off to Dexter to be made into the chocolate bars that we at Iorio’s crave! Based on the flavor complex, the beans are sorted into different batches. These batches are ground down--a process that takes anywhere from 20-35 hours--to ensure the perfect consistency and flavor! Following the promise of pure chocolate, the only ingredient added to the grinding process is organic sugar, coming from evaporated cane juice. Once the perfect consistency has been achieved, the chocolate is tempered--or heated and cooled in a specific fashion. It can then be poured into the chocolate-bar mold. Each bar is hand-wrapped to complete the process of crafting the perfect chocolate bar.

To give an idea of the chocolate bars Mindo makes, here are some of the awesome flavors that we are currently selling in our Ann Arbor store: Vanilla, Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Michigan Blueberry, and Michigan Cherry. Come by and check out them out! See for yourself what everyone is raving about.

And of course, a big thank you to Mindo for the delicious and wholesome chocolate treat!

The History and Mystery of Latte Art

There’s no denying it -- there is something about latte art that makes sipping your favorite latte or cappuccino that much more satisfying. The design that the barista creates, much like a fingerprint or snowflake, is unique to that espresso drink. Skilled baristas make this art form look almost effortless, but how does it really work? And where did it come from? This week we have a list of fun facts to help demystify this increasingly popular way of serving lattes and cappuccinos.

An example of the free pouring method for a rosette design

An example of the free pouring method for a rosette design

  • Owner of Seattle’s Espresso Vivace coffee shop, David Schomer, is credited for popularizing latte art in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

  • Schomer first perfected the heart pattern in 1989, followed by the rosette pattern in 1992.

  • Latte art is created by combining crema (the light colored foam on the top of an espresso shot) with the microfoam from steamed milk.

  • There are two main methods for creating latte art: Free pouring and etching.

  • Free pouring involves moving the pitcher of steamed milk while pouring to create a design.

  • Etching involves using a thin tool to pull the crema and foam after the milk has been poured.

  • Free pouring is the most common way of creating latte art (i.e., the heart or rosette).

  • Today, the practice has become so widespread, that many baristas participate in international latte art competitions.

An example of the etching method using chocolate sauce.

An example of the etching method using chocolate sauce.

So the next time the barista calls your name to pick up your latte or cappuccino, you can be a little less mystified, a little more informed, and still totally impressed.by the finished product!

Iorio's Alumni Update: Hestia Mayes

When a person joins the Iorio's family, they become a gelatista for life. Manager Alex Scharf sat down with one such gelatista, Hestia Mayes, who we're thrilled to have back with us this summer. Check out the full interview below!

When did you work at Iorio's?

I worked at Iorio's from May 2012 to June 2015. 

What have you been up to since?

After I graduated from U of M in 2014, I did a one year Americorps program called City Year in Detroit (during which time I still worked at Iorio's on the weekends). Then, in summer 2015, I started a grad program at the University of Pennsylvania. I just graduated with my Master's of Education last month. This fall, I'll be teaching second grade in Philly!

How did you end up there?

My Americorps program, City Year, was focused on improving the education of kids in urban areas. Through this experience, I realized how much I absolutely love working with children. I also realized just how essential a solid elementary education is, yet so many students don't get the education they deserve. These factors encouraged me to become a teacher! I sought out an urban-focused education program and ended up at Penn--and then ended up loving Philly so much that I decided to start my teaching career there!

Have you been back to Ann Arbor since? What brought you back?

I'm actually from Ferndale, just outside Detroit, so I'm less than an hour away from Ann Arbor. I'm around AA all the time, usually to eat at one of AA's many amazing restaurants (I make most of my decisions based on food). And, as of three weeks ago, I'm officially an Iorio's employee again! I'll be working at Iorio's until I start my teaching job this fall. 

What is your favorite flavor of gelato?

I have worked at Iorio's for so long that I've truly seen them all, but if I had to choose, I would say it's a tie between Red Velvet and Limoncello. 

Yes or yes, Iorio's is the best job you've ever had?

I guess I'm gonna have to go with yes... but really, considering I couldn't stay away for more than a year, you know my love for Iorio's is real. When I make the transition from dealing with 24 gelato flavors to dealing with 24 students this fall, I'll let you know how it ranks then. 

Gelato World Tour 2016

What sounds better than spending a weekend eating gelato, hanging with Italians, enjoying the Windy City, and meeting some of the best gelato artisans in the world?! Nothing, right?

Some of the Iorio’s crew did have this kind of weekend recently! The last weekend of May the Gelato World Tour found its way to Chicago and we found our way to the Tour. Though Iorio’s Gelato did not compete (this year), owners, Nick and Mary, and manager, Alex, all had the chance to enjoy the gelato festivities for the weekend.

Each year gelato artisans from around the world compete for the title of Gelato World Champion.  First, gelato artisans compete in their local area, and the winners of each geography go on to compete for the world title in Milan, Italy.

The competition travels around the world, this year to Tokyo, Singapore, Germany, and the United States. This year the competition came to Chicago, to find North America’s best gelato artisan.  Everyone was invited to come try the different gelato flavors and choose their favorite. We went all three days to check out the day’s events, try the gelato, and learn more about the latest and greatest gelato equipment. We met gelato chefs, business owners, and other gelato enthusiasts from around the world, and even got to meet a penguin who eats gelato.

The competition in Chicago took place in Millennium Park, steps away from the infamous bean. It was a crowded event with long lines to enter the gelato tent and a crowded group once you’re in there. Turns out people like gelato. Go figure.

Once in the gelato tent you can taste all of the competitors’ signature flavors, watch them making their gelato in the gelato kitchen full of state of the art gelato equipment, and take your photo as a gelato chef...

After all the votes were collected the Gelato World Tour announced the competition winners for North America. The people’s choice winner went to Daniela Lince Ledesma of Dolce Gelato in Columbia (the country, not the city). Her flavor, “Amor­Acuyá”, had all sorts of deliciousness, which is probably why her flavor was the most voted.

The winner of the Technical Jury Award went to Gianluigi Dellaccio of Dolci Gelati Café with his “Saffron Pistachio with Candied Lemon Peel Gelato” flavor.  We were particularly happy he won, since he trained our very own gelato chef, Nick, everything he knows about gelato making!

We’re excited to follow North America’s winners to Italy to compete for the prestigious title of Gelato World Champion, and we’re even more excited for years to come to compete for Iorio’s Gelato to become the world’s best gelato!

Gelatista of the Month: Andrew

Favorite gelato flavor?

One of the first flavors I tried was Zuppa Inglese, and we’ve been exclusive ever since.

How long have you been on the Iorio’s Team and what keeps you coming back?

I was a walk-on Iorio when I was sixteen years old, in 2013. I have done a lot of growing up behind the case and under the supervision of my dear boss, Nick. He’s really the reason I wake up in the morning and keep coming back.

When you’re not scooping gelato or brewing espresso, what can we find you doing?

I am a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Tang Soo Do, so if I’m not at the shop, I am either teaching or doing my own training. I am shooting for a spot on Team USA to compete in the London World Championships in 2018!

What’s one thing about you that customers would be surprised to know?

I have a girlfriend.

If you could create one dream gelato flavor, what would it be?

I’ve been begging for years for a Cola sorbetto. I don’t think I would order it much, but I can’t think of a better flavor to have on a 90 degree summer day.

A Gelatista Abroad: Part II

Hi, Mysha! It’s good to have one our favorite gelatistas back in the States! How long were you in Italy all together? And where exactly did you stay?

I was in Italy for 4 months, felt more like 4 seconds! I lived in Ferrara. It’s a small town in the Emilia Romagna region. I lived in a beautiful with a lovely host family!

What surprised you the most about Italy?

Every day there was a new surprise. One thing that I never grew accustomed to was how ‘sensitive’ the Italians are to the weather! There were multiple times when my host family was SHOCKED that I was going out in ‘that weather!’, which was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit....a balmy day for a Michigander.

Tell us about the food. Favorite meal?

PASTICCIO. For my little host sister’s birthday, my host mom made this divine dish called pasticcio. It is somewhat of a macaroni casserole, but so much more...sweet and savory...rich but still delicate...The food that was the best was the PRODUCE. My host family only purchased what was in season in Italy, so everything was so fresh and full of flavor. I have never enjoyed plain tomatoes or experienced oranges with that much flavor!

And of course you have to tell us about the gelato. How does it compare?

To be honest, I personally think Nick’s homemade gelato is the best. Although I did have some unforgettable gelato while in Italy. The flavor nocciola (hazelnut), pistachio, and cioccolato fondente (dark chocolate) were my favorite flavors! 

Okay, take us back...you’re walking down a beautiful street in Italy. What do you see and hear?

I would see about 3 dogs and hear another 3 in a dog fight. I swear every Italian in Ferrara had at least 2 (poorly trained dogs). Leather, leather, and more leather. Regardless of the time of day or temperature, men and women in leather pants and jackets was the norm. Other things I would see: Fancy little old ladies riding their bikes in fur coats and high heels, so many suave Italian men with the best facial hair and shoes, a bunch of people saying ‘mamma mia!’ (but actually).

Any weird, crazy Italy stories for us?

From my experience, Italians are superstitious. For example, my host mom told me that my host brother was sick because he went outside without socks on. Here is a list of examples of Italians being weirdos: If you have a fever you can’t take a shower because the hot water is bad for the feverish forehead. If you have a sore throat you MUST wear a scarf. You will get sick if you go out in the early morning fog. You have to dry your hair right away after a shower or your wet hair will make you sick!

Thanks, Mysha! Come back and visit anytime!

Let's Talk about Tea

Our coffee and gelato get all the fame and glory, but I’d argue that our tea is the hidden gem of Iorio’s. First of all, we’re committed to having a type of tea for everyone, whether it’s green or black tea for our more caffeinated friends, white tea, or herbal tea. Moreover, just like our gelato flavors, we’re always changing up our tea options to keep things interesting.

Here are 5 little known facts about tea:

  1. Origins: The English are known for their love of tea, but tea can actually trace its beginning back to ancient China. Legend has it that Emperor Shen Nong discovered tea in 2737 BCE when a light breeze caused a leave to blow into his boiling water. The rest is history.

  2. Keep it in the Family: Most tea comes from the same plant called camellia sinensisThe exception to this is herbal tea, which isn’t technically tea at all!

  3. An accidental tea bag?: Some say an American named Thomas Sullivan accidentally invented the tea bag in 1904, when he sent his customers tea in silk sachets. They didn’t know what to do with them, so they dunked the entire sachet in hot water and found it worked rather well. However, two women, Roberta C. Lawson and Mary Molaren from Wisconsin, actually invented an earlier version of the tea bag back in 1901, though few recognize their efforts.

  4. Expensive Fertilizer: The most expensive tea in the world is grown in China, where panda feces is used to fertilize the tea bushes. A cup of this tea costs roughly $200!

  5. Mosquito repellent: Wet some tea leaves and apparently the aroma will keep mosquitos away! I’m a little skeptical, so I’ll be sure to try this tactic this summer.

"How do you say that?"

At Iorio’s, we love to celebrate our Italian heritage! We are so proud to share our little piece of Italy with our customers. However, we find that some of our customers struggle to pronounce the names of more traditional flavors. Each flavor at Iorio’s has its own story to tell and its own unique ingredients and textures. So, we’ve made a guide to understanding some of these extraordinary, yet hard-to-pronounce flavors - so you can enjoy them, too!

Stracciatella  “strah-chah-tell-uh”

Similar to chocolate chip ice cream, this favorite gelato flavor is a staple at Iorio’s. It’s actually based on an Italian soup of the same name, though the classic gelato version consists of a panna creme base with dark chocolate shavings. However, you might also see other flavors like Coffee Stracciatella or Blueberry Stracciatella, which indicate a coffee or blueberry base with chocolate shavings respectively.

Bacio “bah-cho”

Bacio means “kiss” in Italian, and is made of dark chocolate gelato with hazelnut pieces. Based on the popular chocolate candy, it's a classic Italian flavor.

Zuppa Inglese “zoo-pah een-glay-zay

This popular flavor literally translates to “English soup,” perhaps derived from the English trifle dessert. It’s a custardy sweet flavor that mixes well with almost anything!

Gianduia “jahn-doo-yah”

We often compare this flavor to Nutella since it’s a smooth milk chocolate hazelnut flavor. It’s a favorite with kids and adults alike!

Spumoni “spuh-mohn-ee”

Based on a traditional layered gelato dessert, this flavor has all the favorites in one! It includes zuppa inglese and gianduia with pistachio gelato, whole maraschino cherries, and almond halves. Come celebrate National Spumoni Day on August 21st!

Limoncello “lee-mohn-chell-oh”

This tart gelato was inspired by the Italian lemon liqueur of the same name, mainly produced in Southern Italy. Although its specific origin is debated, it's said that limoncello is at least 100 years old.

Profiterole “proh-fit-er-ohl”

We borrowed from the French with this one, a panna gelato with cream puffs based on the traditional French dessert. Gelato and cream puffs are a match made in heaven.

Iorio's Secret Menu

1. Catie's Iced Coffee: cold brew + whole milk + vanilla

It's lightly sweet, creamy, and most importantly, very caffeinated. Just order a cold brew with a dash of milk and a shot of vanilla syrup!

2. Nutty Hot Chocolate: Italian hot chocolate + spoonful of Nutella

Everyone knows that we love Nutella at Iorio's-- it's no secret. So why not add it to our Italian hot chocolate? Go ahead..nothing's stopping you.

3. Dirty Hot Chocolate: Italian hot chocolate + shot of espresso

Honestly, our hot chocolate is the best around. Add a shot of espresso if you need a caffeine fix, but want something sweeter than a caffe mocha. 

4. London Fog: earl grey tea + steamed milk + vanilla

Our Earl Grey Tea gelato is known far and wide and indeed has a cult following, so we wanted to have a specialty hot drink too!

5. Gelato Shakes: gelato of choice + milk

We don’t have shakes on our menu, but we do have a blender. If you ask your gelatista nicely, I’m sure they won’t hesitate to whip you up a gelato shake. It’s like a milkshake...but better.