I wanted to start this post with a piece of contemporary literature I wrote, written in a historical form.
Holy (sort of)* Sonnet 1: An Ode to Gelato Fiasco
By Benjy R.
In the heart of the Old Port it is located,
The red spoon stands tall.
For in this building Italy is created,
Its recipes never escaping the walls.
People flock from near and far,
To have a taste of this rich cream.
Mainers park their cars,
And purchase some frozen treats, excited they seem.
From cookies to chocolate and other toppings,
The gelato has been made fresh each day.
For some of the flavors may seem kind of shocking,
But the customers devour them, and go off on their merry way.
This Old Port haunt can be quite a fiasco.
Of course you can also eat al fresco.
*Although it (mostly) follows the rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet, it lacks iambic pentameter.
The Gelato Fiasco has long been one of my favorite places in Maine. But before we start, let’s get our gelato facts straight. According to Instant Portland’s article The Gelato Wars, “Gelato is not simply “Italian Ice Cream”. It is a frozen treat which shares common ingredients with ice cream, but which typically has a much lower percentage of butterfat and a higher percentage of sugar than American ice cream. It is denser, smoother, and often more flavorful than its more familiar counterpart.” Well said.
Gelato Fiasco (known to Mainers as simply Fiasco) has 2 locations: their flagship store on Maine Street (clever, right?) in Brunswick, and one on Fore Street in the Old Port. I have regrettably only been to the one in the Old Port, but I am planning to make a spiritual pilgrimage to this holy site. When entering the store, you are greeted by Maine goodness. Let me explain. Fiasco’s gelato is not “health food”. However, founders Josh and Bruno (known as Gelatieri) had a vision to bring Italy’s creation and combining it with fresh Maine ingredients. They explain: “We source 100% of our whole milk and cream from Maine dairy farms.” Of course, they use fresh Maine “wild blueberries from down the coast”. Now let’s look at one of my favorite flavors (out of over 1500 ever made) from this local haunt. Maine Wild Blueberry Crisp Gelato. Let’s break it down into its components: Milk from Maine dairy farms, homemade oat streusel (as usual, made fresh daily) and fresh blueberries from Down East. What more Maine goodness could you possibly want?
Fiasco’s staff are also very “nice” (and they’re working crazy store hours of 11am-11pm). In order to illustrate this, let’s look at example 2: The Waffle Cone. Now when people go to Gelato Fiasco, I highly recommend that they order their treat in a waffle cone; it’s totally worth the extra $1 or $2. I strolled into the store this past summer, and was disappointed to learn that no waffle cones were left. (You see, they make their waffle cones fresh in some complex piece of machinery, with waffle batter.) They said to come back in 20 minutes, and sure enough, the waffle cones were ready. I had already had my gelato, but I gladly accepted the waffle cone for consumption on its own. That’s how good they are.
As you have read in the “About” section of this blog, I live in New York. When I left Maine this past summer, I was worried that indulging in such a treat would be a challenge, and would leave me constantly craving Fiasco. Problem solved, thanks to Fiasco’s hand-packed pints sold in a grocery store near me. That’s right. Hand packed in Brunswick, Maine, and brought right to my kitchen. Since this life-changing discovery, I have been able to keep the Maine spirit alive by having Maine Wild Blueberry Crisp Gelato and Strawberry Balsamic Sorbetto (another one of my recommended flavors) in my home. Well done, Fiasco. (You can also order pints through their new delivery service, where dry ice is used to keep the gelato and sorbetto frozen.)
A few days ago, I sent a message to a few Mainer friends, saying that I acquired new gelato from the grocery store. One of them (who actually lives over an hour away from the nearest Fiasco) responded back saying, “I was just at Gelato Fiasco actually!!” And we conversed about their latest creations, which is basically what all of our conversations boil down to. See? Gelato Fiasco induces unity between Mainers and Non-Mainers.
You’re probably tired at the end of reading these 709 words that this post has turned out to be. You’ll hear more about Fiasco in future posts. But now I wanted to leave you with a quote by its founders Josh and Bruno.
“Food and service should not be a static experience. We explore tastes, people, and culture with a spirit of discovery and within the parameters of the pursuit of excellence.”
Well said, Fiasco. Well said.
To learn more about The Gelato Fiasco, visit their website at http://www.gelatofiasco.com, or watch this YouTube video below.
All photos in this post (as with most of them on this blog) are taken by me.