Sunday, November 16, 2014

Do ice cream and cold weather go together?

The last week in Seattle has been unusually (I am told) cold weather for this time of year, but this cold has brought the sun with it as well, so I've been a happy camper. This, of course, brings up the perennial winter question: is it still appropriate to eat ice cream when the weather outside matches the temperature of your dessert? To which I reply, what kind of question is that?

I ran nine miles yesterday (I'm scaling up my mileage for marathon training), so I felt justified in taking myself out for an ice cream adventure this afternoon (now that my legs are working again). A few weeks ago Sirena Gelato caught my eye, so I stopped by their Fremont shop to try their gelato. The shop is cozy, with dark wood panels and seating along the front window. On this cold Sunday afternoon, the store was nearly empty, although the woman working the counter assured me that there had been a steady stream of groups through the afternoon.

Sirena Gelato is a small, local chain with three stores in Bellingham, Kirkland and Fremont. Their gelato is made fresh in Bellingham using traditional Italian techniques, using local ingredients whenever possible. The gelato is made according to tradition, using whole milk rather than heavy cream, and is stored at a slightly higher temperature than ice cream, resulting in a denser texture. This technique was very apparent in the gelato I tasted; they were all exquisitely creamy and smooth, without a hint of the graininess that can be found in some ice creams.

The selection of flavors was moderately limited, but encompassed an appealing spectrum of fruit and chocolate/vanilla flavors. I tasted their salted caramel, black cocoa and stracciatella. I found the salted caramel to be average (and unlike most other salted caramel interpretations I've had in Seattle, not too salty), but pleasant. The stracciatella was rich and creamy, but plain. However, the black cocoa gelato was fabulous. It was everything gelato should be; it had a rich, complex flavor, complemented by incredibly smooth, silky texture and somehow managed to be amazingly rich without being too heavy. All of the gelato at Sirena is technically excellent, but the black cocoa flavor was out of this world delicious.

Overall, I can strongly recommend Sirena Gelato. The gelato is fabulously well made and all of their gelato is worth a taste for the texture alone. However, the black cocoa was a standout flavor that is definitely in contention among the best ice cream in Seattle.

Here are my overall scores:

Texture - 10
Flavors - 7
Cone - n/a
Execution - 9
Taste - 9
Ambiance/service/etc - 8
Total: 43/50

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