Califonia Bountiful

Gelato Journey

Eating great ice cream is easy. But making it, that's another story all together.

Eating great ice cream is easy. But making it, that's another story all together. And it's especially true when you're talking about gelato, a very special Italian treat that got its start in California in San Francisco. So we set out to find out what goes into something so good, it's been called one of the best desserts in the world.

With more than 3,000 restaurants, it's not surprising that we decided to start this journey in San Francisco. When you're talking about food in California and food trends, this is the place to be. And one of the biggest trends to come out of here was the gelato sensation that launched the premium ice cream revolution in the 90's. Gelato has always been a favorite treat amongst Italians who used it as a dietary aid-something to cleanse the pallet between heavier meals. But gelato didn't really become popular here until it gained acceptance in some of San Francisco's finest restaurants--including one in the heart of the city--Le Colonial. Executive Chef Mike Yakura raves about the special frozen treat because it is so rich and dense, he can use it as a sauce on some of his finest desserts.

"I love it. It's so great to work with a product that I know will be good. People come to expect only the freshest, top-notch products, and they get that with this gelato."

All of Mike's gelato comes from right up the road in near-by Concord. That's where Caffé Classico Foods is headquartered. The company was founded in San Francisco in 1976 by the Heffernan family. They called their tiny ice cream shop, appropriately enough "Gelato's" and they found almost instant success. One of the reasons for their success has been the family's belief in using only the top products available. And because they only use the freshest ingredients around, they depend on some of California's biggest crops to keep them going. This includes one of their most important ingredients (since it goes into so many different flavors)--almonds.

And that brings us to our last stop on this gelato journey--to Bob and Toni Conway's almond orchard in Modesto. They supply the ice cream giant with nearly 12,000 pounds of almonds every year and they love being a part of something where they can taste the rewards!

"It makes us feel really good because we know the gelato company is one of the top companies around, so we feel very privileged to be a part of that," Bob says.

And what's Bob favorite flavor of gelato? Surprisingly, it's not mocha almond fudge or chocolate almond, but it's green tea!

"It tastes so great, I could literally eat this every day!" Bob said.

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