Though it was the first thing I thought of when I saw it, this is not a fancy dish of mashed potatoes, scooped up cafeteria-style with a big well in the middle for gravy:
No, it’s a giant portion of fior di latte gelato, ready to be drowned in espresso and turned into one of my favorite treats: Caffé affogato.
For the record, I eat ice cream year round. I have been known to eat it for breakfast. If I could only have one dessert for the rest of my life I might, just might, choose vanilla ice cream, preferably made by my friend Heather Miller.
Last Sunday was a chilly, threatening-to-rain kind of day in Paris, by far the worst afternoon, weather-wise, of my trip. But like I said, I’ll eat ice cream any time. With a little encouragement from someone who definitely knows what he’s talking about I stopped by Pozzetto, in the Marais, for a pick-me-up.
Much has been written about the differences between ice cream and gelato. Gelato is ice cream, made the Italian way. Some people prefer the Italian style which, compared to French or American ice creams, is lower in fat, containing little or no cream and no eggs. This leaner base actually produces a denser finished ice cream because it retains less air during churning. I happen to like the richness of custard-based ice creams, but the best gelato has an astonishing intensity of flavor.
Pozzetto means “little well,” in Italian, and refers to the way the gelato is stored, in individual covered wells rather than piled into trays and displayed uncovered. This allows for more strict temperature control and helps preserve the texture of the gelato. Pozzetto offers only 12 flavors, all fairly traditional, made daily in small batches. Coffee, gianduja, chocolate, mint: The ingredients are all natural, which is to say that your cornet of pistachio will not be bright green. The quality was evident in my dish of fior di latte, which is the plainest of ice cream flavors but tasted anything but.
There is a service window which I’m sure accumulates quite a queue in warmer weather, but inside there are a few tables where you can enjoy a well-made espresso or one of several coppas (sundaes) or in my case both, in the form of an affogato.
Pozzetto isn’t the only gelato game in town. Amorino seems to be taking over the city, and Grom set up shop on Rue de Seine last summer. But this should come as no surprise: It was, after all, Catherine de Medici, an Italian, who supposedly introduced ice cream to France when she was queen.
Pozzetto, 39 Rue du Roi de Sicile, Paris 75004, +33 (0)1 42 77 08 64 Website