Tour del Gelato: Special “HOT” Edition

28 Jun

Gelato sign

Yeah, yeah, don’t get too excited. We’re still basically PG-rated around here. But any sign that shows gelato with flames coming off of it is definitely going to get my attention.

Therefore, I am pleased to bring you a most interesting discovery in the world of Italian gelato. Apparently this is somehow thanks to San Biagio, a Catholic saint known in English as Saint Blaise. I’m really starting to question how S. Biagio fits in with hot gelato, seeing as how he apparently died while being beaten to death with iron wool-carding combs (hence becoming the patron saint of wool combers) and is also particularly important for those who have fish bones stuck in their throats. Hmmm… Well, mysteries abound in Italy and unfortunately, I didn’t dig deeper into the connection here. Perhaps one of my ever-astute readers can shed some more light on the subject.

So, leaving the dubious religious origins of this treat aside, let us explore the creation itself. Allow me to back up for one moment.

As I mentioned a couple posts ago, I ate lunch in Fiuggi this weekend. We decided to have a quick aperitivo before lunch and ducked into the first bar we saw open. Upon leaving, I spotted this curious-looking cooler:

Ice cream cooler

I make a comment to Ale like “Gelato caldo? Ma che cos’Γ¨?”, and the owner says, “That’s our speciality.” My curiosity loves just such an invitation. I start asking him what, exactly, that would be.

Well folks, it’s none other than gelato that you COOK in an OVEN. Don’t believe me, eh? See for yourself:


Yes, that there is indeed the gelato-cooking oven.

Intrigued, we promised to come back after lunch. [Total tangent: Somehow the topic comes up that I’m American, and the bar owner gets all excited and starts explaining to me how he was supposed to be at the “Latini Family Reunion” in Pennsylvania that day. He excitedly shows me the invitation all the way from the States, and explains how sad he is that he had to be working in his bar instead. He was supposed to have sold it by now, he says. But to keep his spirits up, he has promised to put a call in to the reunion later that afternoon, where he will proceed to be put on speakerphone to perform his acappella rendition of “O Sole Mio” for all present in the famiglia. If anyone knows anyone in the Latini family of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, NY, and a couple other states I can’t remember, do let me know if he kept his promise. Adorable!)

So, after lunch, we keep our promise and are back for the hot gelato. The owner is by now nowhere to be found, so I happily assume he’s rehearsing for his performance. We’re told that we have to be patient, as it takes about 10-15 minutes in the oven. It actually took about 20 minutes or so, but we were so curious it didn’t matter. This is what it looks like before going in:

Before gelato

And, this, my friends, is the oven-toasted finished product:

Finished gelato

I knew you would probably be wondering just exactly how this works, and what it looks like inside. So was I. So here’s an “interior” shot:

Hot gelato

Basically, here’s what we’re dealing with. There’s an outside “crust,” the part that gets golden brown, that is sort of like baked meringue with a strawberry flavor. At least that’s what it seemed like to me. It was obviously warm. Once you break into the “gelato,” you discover that it’s surrounded by vanilla sponge cake inside, also warm. Tucked inside the exterior layer of cake are three flavors of cold gelato: strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. It’s really something. We split one between the two of us, and I can assure you that even half is pretty filling.

In six years in Italy, I had never seen such a thing before. Have you?

If you’re ever in Fiuggi, allow me to recommend this bar. It’s in Piazza Trento e Trieste, the main square of the historic center. You can’t miss it. Hurry though, because the bar is still for sale… who knows if the people who buy it will keep the S. Biagio tradition going.


27 Responses to “Tour del Gelato: Special “HOT” Edition”

  1. somepinkflowers June 28, 2007 at 12:28 pm #


    your treat looks like what we call,
    a Baked Alaska…
    only i guess yours would be called
    a Baked Italy…
    or something!

    you SHARED it??


  2. Giulia June 28, 2007 at 12:42 pm #

    Ohhhhhh….Ahhhhhhhhhh…OMG, that looks DELICIOUS! I’m gonna be on the lookout for these things around here.

  3. J.Doe June 28, 2007 at 2:55 pm #

    That looks really good. I had what they called Gelato Caldo in Tuscan once. It was just a type of mousse. It was gooey and yucky, but this Gelato caldo looks like gelato caldo. It really looks a lot better.

  4. Jeff June 28, 2007 at 3:15 pm #

    Yes, I’ve heard of this! And your explanation makes sense. I was wondering why that town name sounded familiar. I’ve never been there but I have a business card for “Gran Caffe Martini” in Fiuggi. A friend gave it to me because I didn’t believe his story of “hot ice cream”. I didn’t believe it because he couldn’t explain “the layers” like you did.
    Also, I struck out trying to find Alberto Sordi.

  5. jessica in rome June 28, 2007 at 3:15 pm #

    That is really strange, but it looks good!

  6. Rose in Cali June 28, 2007 at 3:19 pm #

    Wow! Gelato caldo reminds me of Baked Alaska or even fried ice cream. I will definitely swing by and try it!

  7. nyc/caribbean ragazza June 28, 2007 at 3:28 pm #

    It does look like a Baked Alaskan (where did that name come from anyway?) YUM

  8. Sherry June 28, 2007 at 3:34 pm #

    I thought the same as NYC and Some Pink… an Italian Baked Alaska…also brings to mind fried ice cream, which, if you ignore the fact that you are deep-frying battered ice cream is quite an enjoyable treat.

  9. jessica in rome June 28, 2007 at 3:57 pm #

    Shelley I forgot mention I added you to my blogroll. Hope that’s ok wasn’t sure if I should ask first πŸ™‚

  10. sognatrice June 28, 2007 at 4:06 pm #

    I’ve never had this, or baked Alaska. Looks *so* good, but I’m a little surprised that Italians would go for it. Kinda big when everything is usually so portion-controlled. Unless, of course, you’re expected to only take a sliver or something. Oh, and because I’m a geek, I looked up how Baked Alaska got its name. Some info here , here, and here for anyone who’s interested.

  11. Shelley, At Home in Rome June 28, 2007 at 4:16 pm #

    Guys, I’ve never even seen Baked Alaska. Isn’t that crazy? I mean, I’ve heard of it, but never eaten it. Good to know what it looks like at least! (Now I’ll be the one saying, the first time I see Baked Alaska… you know, that looks a lot like “gelato caldo”! Ha!)

    Jeff: Solver of mysteries, yes, this is the name of the bar. I thought it was Martini but didn’t want to write it in case I had remembered wrong.

    Jessica: Of course, that’s nice of you, thanks! I will have to get you on mine as well, if you’re not already there. I am still working on getting my blog layout up to speed with links, etc.

  12. jessica in rome June 28, 2007 at 4:51 pm #

    Hey Shelley
    I have Daniele to thank for my blog, he did the whole thing, with artistic imput from me of course. The header was made from scratch. Now that’s love πŸ™‚

  13. cheeky June 28, 2007 at 6:31 pm #

    Looks yummy to me. The whole cake and gelatto mix is, mmhhh how shall we say, sinful. (No pun intended, honestly – it just came out)
    Sognatrice, I’m also a geek. I don’t even know what BA is, so I’m off. Thanks!

  14. Dena June 28, 2007 at 7:35 pm #

    Shelley, I just had to comment. That looks DELICIOUS! I wish I could try one today! Yum!

  15. Austin June 28, 2007 at 11:15 pm #

    Wow, in all my trips to Italy, I’ve never seen that before. It sounds good, but I imagine I’d fall asleep after eating it. πŸ™‚
    I’ll have to ask my Italian friends about it and see if they’re ever seen it up in Northern Italy.

  16. rachael June 29, 2007 at 12:14 am #

    That looks soo good.

  17. Avery June 29, 2007 at 1:17 am #

    I’ve never seen Baked Alaska or Gelato caldo but would love to try both. I am subtley drooling over that photo. Wait, does that mean gelato caldo doesn’t exist in Rome?
    Fried ice cream I’ve had, and damn it’s really good. Must be a southern thang.

  18. marina June 29, 2007 at 2:21 am #

    Ooh! That looks absolutely yumsch! I’d have to try it the next time I go to Italy πŸ™‚

    Over in Singapore, about 10 years ago, deep fried ice cream was the rage. Sounds similar to the s.biagio in the sense that deep frozen ice cream is wrapped in dough or batter and quickly fried. When you eat it, the outside is hot while the inside is still cold.

    It was a delicious oxymoron πŸ™‚

  19. my melange June 29, 2007 at 1:34 pm #

    Wow! What a combination! Never seen or heard of anything like it. I wonder if it was this guys personal creation…found no where else in Italy. Maybe it’s just the pic, but it looks like the size of a whole pie! I feel a cavity coming on just looking at it πŸ™‚

  20. John. June 30, 2007 at 9:14 am #

    Oh, my that looks amazing.

    Frankie and I got some gelato last night, but i’m not sure it holds up to Tour di Gelato standards. But, hey, it was our first Roman gelato. What can I say.

    Unfortunately we’re only here until early tomorrow morning, and we’ve got a pretty full schedule, but when we come back through in late July, we should all get an espresso or gelato! I think Jeff in Puglia is meeting us in Lecce to do a Tour di Gelato bit. He’s got this place in mind, I guess. Should be fun!

  21. Jenn DZ - Leftover Queen June 30, 2007 at 7:40 pm #

    Wow that is amazing! I was telling Roberto about this post and showing him the pictures andnow he thinks we should buy it! We are always saying if all of our endeavors fail, we should just buy a gelateria! πŸ™‚

  22. Mama C July 2, 2007 at 5:21 am #

    Holy gelato! That is the most delicious thing I have ever seen. I love gelato. Next time I’m in Italy, I must find this place.

    Found you through My Bella Vita. Thanks for letting me look around.

  23. Arantxa July 7, 2007 at 12:06 am #

    Che Rico!!!!

  24. Cinzia August 7, 2007 at 4:06 pm #

    Shelley u probably found out by now but…San Biagio saved a little boy who was dying having a fishbone in his throat. That’s why on Feb.3rd (san Biagio day) we bring our children to be blessed, hopefully they’ll stay well without sore throat for an year.

  25. Maria March 3, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    To me it seems to be a fancy version of glace au four πŸ™‚

  26. Regina April 27, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Loved this! Wonderful pictures. Making me hungry 😦

  27. Ihsan May 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    Posted on Haha, Sarah, you’re hilarious and I love it! Honestly, it doesn’t even mtetar that they leave my name out when all the cool kids on the internet mention me! We know who has more street cred!XOXOFelicia

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