When you first walk into the Spin Cafe on Main Street in Heber, you are immediately greeted by the beautiful gelato counter showcasing 12 freshly-prepared flavors just begging to tempt and tantalize your taste buds.
Vincent Esposito is more than just an aficionado on the topic of gelato — he eats, sleeps and dreams gelato. He lived in Italy for over two years, traveled the Italian countryside extensively and has studied the art of gelato longer than most people spend thinking about food in a lifetime.
“I started making gelato in my dad’s restaurant in upstate New York,” says Esposito, owner and chef of Spin Cafe. When he first started making gelato in New York, no one in the area even knew what gelato was. Esposito didn’t let that deter him — he learned, researched, tested, tried and developed a passion for the creamy confection. For him, making gelato isn’t just fun, it’s a passionate way of life that he’s been perfecting every day for 45 years.
Gelato v. Ice Cream
While both gelato and ice cream contain cream, milk and sugar, authentic gelato uses more milk and less cream than ice cream. Also, gelato doesn’t typically contain egg yolks, which are a common ingredient in ice cream and frozen custards.
Ice cream usually contains between 14 and 25 percent butterfat. Meanwhile, Italian gelato usually only contains about 7 percent butterfat. “Having less butterfat to coat your palate allows the flavors to emerge more intensely,” explains Esposito.
Gelato is creamier, smoother and silkier, as well as denser and more elastic, than American ice cream. It’s churned slower than ice cream, which folds in less air, giving it that velvety consistency and texture that people the world over crave.
Gelato is also served warmer than American ice cream. This acts as a flavor enhancer — one you’ve probably never considered during an ice cream brain freeze. To boost its flavor, gelato is served about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than ice cream. “This causes your mouth to be less numb and better able to taste the flavors,” Esposito says.
Esposito is fortunate to have a full kitchen that allows him to produce flavors, ingredients and house his gelato makers. “Everything you see in our gelato case is made in house,” he says with pride. “We don’t bring in any bases, premade flavors or starters.” This gives him the upper hand in production, quality and variety — which has resulted in his gelato being sought after throughout Wasatch County and beyond.
Passion Meets Fresh Ingredients
“White peach,” replies Esposito, when asked about some of his best creations. “It is my favorite flavor that I have created here in the Heber Valley.”
He was at the local farmer’s market when he met Scott Smith, a third-generation peach farmer from the foothills of Provo Canyon. “I have learned more about peach farming from Scott,” says Esposito. “Each individual peach tree has its own flavor and you see that throughout the four-week season.”
Espositio loves to incorporate homemade components such as salted caramel, roasted hazelnuts, peanut butter cups, candied pecans and freshly squeezed juices. “Seeing my customers happy, never gets old,” he says, and making people happy with gelato is by far his favorite part of the process.
The next time you’re at Spin Cafe for a quick fix of authentic Italian gelato, pay attention. Notice that it isn’t scooped… It’s served with a spade, just as it is in Italy. Can you dig it?