Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Gelato at Gelateria 3Bis

I was last here in Autumn 2012, and I'd been meaning to go back but never got around to it. Then one day in early January I decided to skim through the day's Groupons instead of binning them directly. Lo! An offer for the large takeaway tub (£16.50 usually). The sign I was waiting for.

As the weather got worse, I kept the voucher safe since venturing out into the wilds of Borough markets in the snow seemed a silly think to do. Then over the weekend as I was suffering through a massive cold, my cravings for good pistachio gelato grew almost too great to bear. The pilgrimage to the south of the river had to be made, and soon. 

Armed with my voucher, I popped round to the store at 2.30pm. Maybe it was the time, or the fact that this isn't ideal ice cream eating weather,  but apart from one couple spoon feeding each other gelato there weren't any other customers around. 

The flavours of the day
As far as I can tell, 3Bis is staffed entirely by a team of gelato-mad Italian ladies who want to make you love gelato as much as they do. When I first visited last summer, the store was packed all to wall, but the staff gave each customer full attention, making recommendations and scooping out generous dollops of gelato (All freshly made on premises, using British milk) into each cup or cone, which tended to have chocolate sauce (Freely provided if you'd like some) waiting in it. 

That day, I managed to snag a seat because I was the tail end of a mad rush and by the time I got my cone, all the waffle-eaters had evacuated. One of the staffers on a break delicately plonked herself down beside me, massive cone of pistachio gelato in hand, and told me very seriously that she worked there because it meant she could have a free cone of gelato each day. 

Today, with no one else around, the lady on duty was determined to help me make the most of my takeaway tub. I wanted pistachio yes, and a new batch was being freshly churned by their machine to the side, but while waiting for it to be ready, why not try all the other options they had to offer? After all, the tub can hold two flavours comfortably.

We went through eight spoons in the quest for the 'other' that would tempt me away from getting a box of pure pistachio, going from the classics to the slightly more avant garde. They were all good, but not good enough for my purposes. Then she handed me a spoon of panna cotta, rivulets of burnt caramel threatening to spill over the cooked cream, with the words "This one I like best.". 

I ate it, and I was sold. 

Doesn't get any fresher than this
After ascertaining that I would be home in half an hour to freeze the tub (The tub holds the cold in for around 50 minutes to an hour in this weather), and that the pistachio gelato was nearly ready, the gelato lady packed half the tub with panna cotta, then went over to the freshly churned pot of pistachio goodness to fill the other half in, densely as she could. 
The sides of the tub were swiftly cleaned, catching the one drop that hadn't made it neatly inside, before the whole thing was wrapped in spotty paper. I was regaled with a story of how her flatmate froze a tub with the paper still on, and how they struggled to get it off afterwards, dampened by the moisture and frozen solid. "Don't freeze the paper. It just helps keep the cold in for a little longer."

After instructions on how to ensure the consistency doesn't go downhill (Portion out only what you want then keep the rest in the the freezer as quickly as you can) and wishes of "Enjoy.", I was sent on my merry way. 

Maybe gelato for dinner is in order. 

Gelateria 3Bis, 4 Park St, London Borough of Southwark, London SE1 9AB,

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