Best Gelato: Otto, New York
In New York I always visit Meredith Kurtzman at Otto. She makes the gelatos for all of Mario Batali’s restaurants. She is in a unique position in the world of ice cream in that, I believe, she gets an unlimited budget. They’re not making money on their gelato, they just want it to be really great. So she can do things that other ice cream makers can’t, like a quince gelato where she’s gone and picked the quince and made it into a sorbet. She’ll usually come out and we’ll have pizza and eight bowls of ice cream.
Liquid Nitrogen Experts: Smitten, San Francisco
I’m really excited about what some people are doing with liquid nitrogen, like Smitten in San Francisco. They freeze it in this machine that the owner developed, which I think is supercool.
Favorite Italian Experience: Sorbetteria Castiglione
In Italy there’s a gelato shop in Bologna that is really fantastic. Their pistachio was awesome, and they had a hazelnut gelato which was amazing, with hazelnuts from the Piedmont region. Until about 2004, I had no money to travel. But everybody would tell me about these Italian ice cream makers, and I just assumed they were mind-blowingly good. I created my ice cream with what I imagined the greatest ice cream in the world would taste like. When I finally got to Italy, most of it was incredibly underwhelming, made from mixes. This one’s not.
Best French Style: Fenocchio
In Nice, in France, I love Fenocchio. They have two locations on different squares. They push these ice cream dipping cabinets out into the squares, it’s just cool the way they do it. I love their ice cream cones; they are very crispy, kind of like American sugar ones but better, more buttery. The ice cream, the texture is a little more like gelato but richer.