Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sugar Plums

I would like to take this moment to wish all of our customers a very merry Christmas. It's hard to believe that this year is almost gone. If was not for our dedicated chefs, restaurant owners, store owners, buyers, department mangers, and customers like you who knows what would be in your freezer right now. It is because of your purchasing decisions that allow us to continue to make handcrafted gelato day after day.
Many of you know that we made a Sugar Plum Gelato for the Cincinnati Ballet. It has been selling at Findlay Market and selling well. I have included a few photos of the ingredients prior to mixing. My concept for sugar plum was to keep the ingredients whole or larger than what would be used if we made real sugar plums. In order to make a real sugar plum these ingredients would be chopped fine and then rolled into balls and covered with powdered sugar. I felt that something would be lost in that approach. The idea of biting into a large walnut, soft and chewy dates, candied ginger was to tempting. The result is a great tasting gelato with complex flavors and textures. We will continue to make sugar plum throughout the winter months.
The other photo is of my eggnog base. We start with bovine growth hormone free milk and cream, egg yolks sugar and a few other items for all of our gelato bases. The eggnog base contains Meyer Dark Rum, and nutmeg (shown in the photo). We legally pasteurize the base and when it is done we have eggnog. We then add a wee nip of Armagnac before we batch freeze. Don't worry there is less than one half of one percent of alcohol in the finished product. (required by law) but the without these flavors there is something missing. When we finished removing the base from the Vat Joe and I each reserved a little for ourselves. It is better than any eggnog out there. If you want to try an all natural eggnog gelato get down to Findlay Market (Madison's at Findlay 110 W. Elder St.) and pick up a pint.
Thanks for supporting Madisono's

Monday, December 6, 2010

Best of the City 2010

Last week Madisono's Gelato was invited to participate in the Best of The City party held at the Cintas Center. There were more than 450 people enjoying the best that Cincinnati has to offer from fine foods, Lego Toys, and much more. I had a great time serving Dark Chocolate Orange Gelato, Hazelnut Gelato, Butternut Squash with Sage and Date Gelato, Alphonso Mango Sorbet, Candy Cane Gelato and Caramello with Sea Salt Gelato. I had a chance to talk with everyone that stopped by to sample our handcrafted gelato and sorbet. One question that kept coming up was this. "What is the difference between your gelato and the other gelato around town?" The "What is the difference between ice cream and gelato?" question still comes up but not as often. Many of you who read this blog know that I have talked about what makes Madisono's unique and quite often I continue to reinforce the fact that Madisono's makes all of our own bases from scratch. This is a key point that is the foundation of why Madisono's is a true artisan gelato. Did you know that we make 5 different gelato bases? We make a neutral base which is used in fruit and nut flavors, a milk chocolate base, a dark chocolate base, a cinnamon base, and an eggnog base. All of our sorbet bases are also made specifically for each sorbet flavor. We are the only producer of gelato and sorbet that is a licensed milk processor registered and inspected by the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Cincinnati.
We have a HACCP plan, and because we make all of our own base we must conduct legal pasteurization according to the PMO (pasteurization milk ordinance). This allows us many advantages over gelato that is made from who knows what. First, Madisono's is in control of the small batch process from the very beginning and in charge of the chemistry. This begins with sourcing our ingredients. Secondly we use NO PRESERVATIVES! If other gelato producers are not making their own base that that means they are buying something from someone else and that means the use of preservatives and chemical additives that don't need to be there. Some examples of this would be calcium sulphate (also found in drywall) and mono diglycerides of fatty acids (cheap substitutes for egg yolks) Why not just use real egg? There are many more ingredients found in commercial ice cream mixes that are there as preservatives and most vanilla ice cream bases come with vanillin. Vanillin is a banned food ingredient by Whole Foods Markets. Thirdly, we can age our base. When we pasteurize our bases we allow them to age before use. Some gelato companies try to sell mechanical aging devices that shorten the time required to get a good base but that again is selling the process short. A good baker would never rush the proof. Why rush the base?
There are many cottage food producers and most focus on creating a product that is uniquely their own. Some have grown into household names like Amy's or LaBrea. A food artist creates something from scratch, or uses an old recipe, a food producer just produces. For some of you Madisono's is already a household name and for that I thank you.
The picture above is my dark chocolate base in the vat pasteurizer. The white is the fresh cream swirling around the agitator. That base is cooked for about 90 minutes which allows all of the solid chocolate to mix while undergoing legal pasteurization.
Thanks for supporting Madisono's

Monday, November 29, 2010

Custom and Creative

I have written about this process in previous blog entries. The chance to create new flavors for customers is always a highlight. When I started my research for Madisono's in 2005, I came across gelato shops that had more than 350 flavors. How could anyone produce 350 flavors? Not at one time of course, but over the coarse of several years I can see how that would be easy to do. Creating flavors is not hard, getting people to buy them is.

This past month Pho Lang Thang opened at Findlay Market. Three brothers have been working the entire summer and longer to get this place open and at last they are. They have received rave reviews and have had full tables ever since. When David (pictured above) approached me about creating some flavors for the restaurant I knew I would be in for something good. I met with Duy to discuss some concepts which then took us to Saigon Market. We combed the iles for some unique fruits and products that would deliver an authentic Vietnamese profile. After working up several samples we met again for the taste testing. We settled on Durian and Lychee. I had some experience with Durian and Lychee but I had never made a Durian gelato. Why would I? And if I did who would buy it? The flavor of this fruit is super exotic and the aroma is unique. As we sampled the Durian I knew this was going to be a hit and the guys were excited about sharing this with their customers. The Lychee is smooth and sweet and the Durian captures everything the Durian has to offer. Everything! These two flavors will be available in pints from my parents store in the coming days so look for them.

If any of you keep up on the more creative chefs in Cincinnati, then Owne Maas would be high on your list. Owen asked me to do a root beer sorbet using the finest root beer available. For that we chose Virgil's of course. It is all natural and provides a robust root beer body needed for a sorbet.

The chance to take a concept and turn it into something you can touch taste and smell is what keeps us going at Madisono's. Sure we like to make chocolate and vanilla, but there is nothing like making a Durian gelato. There just isn't. Thanks for supporting Madisono's


Monday, November 22, 2010

Kenwood Country Club and a Taste for Life

This past Saturday morning started off with a heavy fog outside my window and a pressed coffee in hand. I had a plate of hard rolls from Dorothy Lane Market with generous portions of Nutella spread in the split centers. I finished my Fruhstuck and headed down to my office to begin the ritual of data entry for the previous week. All invoices, expenses are entered into Quickbooks, and then I focus on the coming week. Most of the time I can get through everything in about 2 to 3 hours. With Pandora Radio set to Cocteau Twins or The National it is actually an enjoyable event. Thank God for Pandora!
This past Saturday I spent my night serving gelato and sorbet to more than 350 people who came out for a Pancreatic Cancer fundraiser at The Kenwood Country Club. Chef Chris Ropp from Kenwood assembled and all star cast for this event. Pancreatic cancer happens to be part of my family so I spent some time thinking about that. There were some incredible packages to bid and some compelling words from a doctor who is committed to his research to help fight pancreatic cancer. In addition to some of Cincinnati's finest chefs we also had the pleasure of working with some of The Midwest Culinary Institute's students. The dishes served by all of the chefs were incredible. Madisono's proudly served our Dark Chocolate Orange Gelato, Caramello with Sea Salt Gelato, Lemon Basil Sorbet and Candy Cane Gelato to the pleasure of everyone in attendance. The event raised a substantial amount of money for the research to continue. Thanks to all of you who attended and took the time to speak with me on Saturday. I had a great time. I have included some photos of the chefs who were cooking that night. Not all of the chefs are pictured here. Some pictured are Chef Tom from Polo Grille, Chef David Cook, Daveed's, Chef Robert The Summit, Chef Jean Robert, Jean Robert's Table Chef Jack Iron Horse Inn, Chef Paul, DeSha's, Chef Dave Taylor Laposte, and Gordon with wife Sandy from Heidelburg.
Thanks for supporting Madisono's

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Peppermint Stick Gelato

When I started Madisono's 4 years ago I was captivated by this concept of creating authentic gelato. Initially I focused on using products that only came from Italy. I thought this was the only way to do it. There exists a dilemma with this state of mind and mode of operation. Authentic gelato is so, because in Italy they use local ingredients that are made or grown in Italy. How can I produce authentic Italian gelato if I am not in Italy? I can't. Importing products from Italy could be a solution but it does not solve the dilemma. In order to produce authentic Italian gelato I must look locally for inspiration, flavors, textures and be willing to to seek out what is around me in order to satisfy my desire to produce the best gelato. Italian or not. After all is this not what they do in Italy?
I contend that one of my best "Italian" gelato flavors will be Madisono's Peppermint Stick/ Candy Cane Gelato. Why? Because I am using one of the best candy canes you will ever taste in your life. Like some rich provincial cheese or balsamic vinegar, the candy canes we are using are from Cincinnati's very own Doscher's Candies. They twist and bend the hooks by hand! They have a texture that surpasses every other candy cane on the market. The ingredients are simple. We are also using the highest quality extract available on the planet. We proudly use Nielsen Massey Peppermint extract. This company is from Waukeegan Illinois and you might already know them for their fine vanilla extracts.
We start with local milk and cream and build on it from there. The reason Italian gelato tastes so good is because they use what is available to them locally. The more I use local ingredients in Madisono's the more authentic it tastes and feels.
The peppermint sticks are crushed by hand in order to get the perfect size pieces for the final gelato. It delivers a satisfying crunch of real candy cane in every bite. It is now available at Carl's Deli in Hyde Park and Madison's at Findlay. We will add more listings on the Facebook page as we go.
Thanks for supporting Madisonos's

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Taste of the world

During the year Madisono's partners with several charity events to provide gelato and sorbet to the guests. Some start in April and May with bike rides and races and other take us into the holiday season. For the past three years it has been my pleasure to participate in the Taste of The World event. Held at the Newport Aquarium, this event has an incredible offering of food, wine, beer and spirits.
I was stationed in the coral reef room, which now hosts an octopus display. I happened to be positioned in front of the Japanese Spider Crab display. Very cool creatures! I started serving Madisono's Alphonso Mango sorbet and Dark Chocolate Orange gelato. I then moved to Chai, Lime Cilantro sorbet and finished with a round of Lemon Basil sorbet and more Dark Chocolate Orange. I enjoyed talking with each and everyone of you who stopped by to sample and I thank you for your kind and sincere compliments on Madisono's. Thank you all for coming out to support the event and I look forward to seeing you all next year. Please stay in contact with Madisono's via my Facebook page or Twitter, or follow my blog. The photo is of Pastry Chef Armin from Frieda's Bakery in Madiera. Thanks for supporting Madisono's

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What's it really like?

First of all, Madisono's is now proudly served at Palomino! They offer our Caramello with Sea Salt and French Vanilla gelato. A big thanks to Chef Kevin Worthington, Stix, Allegra and the rest of the crew for taking us on. They are excited about offering a local product and we are excited to serve them.
I just turned 41 a few days ago, the new 17, and I am still catching up with old friends on Face Book and about town. Most of them know that I make gelato and sorbet as a profession and when we talk, people want to know what it's like. It is easy to talk passionately about Madisono's, about creating flavors for chefs, using local seasonal ingredients, shopping for the exotic and the chemistry behind the flavor. After all that is the sexy part of the job. I never seem to mention the other aspects of making all of those exotic and custom flavors and that is what happens at the end of the day. Dirty Dishes and more dirty dishes. In our case it is more than just dishes, it's tubs, tools, equipment and machines that all need to be cleaned and sanitized. The degree of cleaning in any dairy facility goes beyond anything you do at home. As a matter of fact there are laws written that outline how things are to be cleaned. When we finish, I keep a daily log of what was cleaned and how. Joe usually continues working the production while I start the preparations for another day of dish dogging. Very hot soapy water, sanitizer and a plenty of elbow grease are what we use each day.
We do have a commercial dishwasher, which you can see in the photo, but everything is scrubbed by hand using a brush before it goes in. I have always told my children to never be ashamed of doing honest work. In a way I look forward to doing the dishes. Each empty tub represents another fine batch of Madisono's gelato or sorbet that is ready to ship out. Lots of empty bowls represent a new creation or flavor. It's a good way to keep everything in perspective. It is one of the most important parts of our sanitation program.
Thanks for supporting Madisono's

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mango Mango Mango

Most of the time I come to work I have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done. I prepare the next day the night before, look at pending orders, inventory and then come up with a production plan. Yesterday was no exception. Alphonso Mango sorbet was running low in pints and tubs so we decided to commit a large part of the production to just that. Have you ever tasted Alphonso Mango? It has a unique flavor and aroma that is different from any other mango you might have had before. I have included this link on them for more information but they are hands down the best mango in the world. Grown in India, they give the mango lassi it's unique flavor and mass appeal. At Madisono's we use Alphonso mangoes in our sorbet. The color is dark like an egg yolk, the flavor is intense and the texture is silky. You can use Madisono's Alphonso Mango sorbet or gelato, because we use Alphosnso mango in that as well, to make your own mango lassi. Try mixing some plain yogurt with the sorbet/gelato and you will have a great dessert.
I have always been a champion of local but some things have to come from other parts of the world. If we could grow mangoes in this climate we would use them but we can't. That might be one benefit to global warming. Homegrown mangoes in Cincinnati. Let's hope not. If you have not tasted Madisono's Alphonso Mango gelato and sorbet consider picking up a pint. There are many ways to enjoy it, fresh fruit cups, exotic drinks and even if it is just scooped into a bowl. Please consider joining us on FB and Twitter. The links are on the blog page. I will keep posted with updates.
Thanks for your support

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Crush

The crush is on at Madisono's. We received some beautiful concord grapes from Michigan as well as some Sangiovese grapes from California. We do everything the old fashioned way at Madisono's, like making all of our base from scratch. We never buy a premade mix with extra "stuff" added in for "stability".
We did not crush these grapes by foot but chose to do it according to health code and state law, but I have to admit the idea of crushing grapes by foot sounds like fun. I snapped a few photos along the way. We started with the fresh grapes, cooked them down, processed in the batch freezer and then packed the pints by hand. We never use artificial food dyes in any of our gelato or sorbet. This color is all natural. Everything shown here is what nature provided. The concord grape sorbet smells like a fresh bunch of grapes just picked from the vine. I had these grapes in the cooler for a few days while we got ready to process them. The aroma was intoxicating.
The Sangiovese grapes gave up some very flavorful juice that was quite sweet. I use brix values to determine my final sorbet recipe with every fruit. If you know about wine making you know that the brix value of grapes can change due to growing conditions. The color and flavor of these grapes provided for a great sorbet. I will look into some more options for next year's harvest. I think that using these wine varieties will make some stellar sorbet. We have also made concord grape gelato using the juice from these grapes as well. Try it with some peanut butter on a brioche. You will not be disappointed. Thanks for supporting Madisono's
PS I can not get this picture to turn around. They are the Sangiovese grapes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

When the time is right

How do you know when the time is right? Right to start a new career path? Right to go to bed early regardless of the TV line up? When I farmed on our certified organic family farm in Adams County Ohio for 5 years there were many times when I asked myself, is the time right? Should I plant now or wait a week. Is there one more frost left or are we in the clear? Everyday I would ask myself, is it the right time? Every cloud could spell a pop up thunderstorm and ruin your chance of harvesting dry basil for the market, or making the soil to wet for planting, cultivating or weeding. The crazy part about all of that guessing and questioning is that there was never anyone to turn to to get an accurate answer. No one ever knew what mother nature had in store from one hour, one week or one month to the next. I think that had I known those things, small scale farming would not have been as much fun. I have always wanted to do a Butternut squash gelato but I have never felt like the was time is right.
The temperatures are dropping each night, the leaves are blowing and my urge to consume more is starting to kick in. I find myself craving hot chocolate, wanting root vegetables and my favorite squash, butternut. This week I got some great local butternut squash from my parents store at Findlay Market. Beautiful orange on the inside and brown on the outside. They represent the end of the season for the farmer. This was the last crop we would harvest at Madison's Ridgeview Farm and for me they represented the relief of making it through another farming season. I think that the time is right for making butternut squash gelato.
How does Butternut Squash with Sage and Dates sound? We roasted the squash and made a smooth puree. I then created my own sage and date variegate with cream, brown sugar, dates and sage. Once we finished the butternut squash gelato we added the variegate by hand and packed the pints. This flavor will be another Findlay Market exclusive. There are so many flavors that I have put off making because I have never felt that the time was right. Today if felt great and tasted delicious.
Thanks for supporting Madisono's

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pints and Porsche

Fast cars and Fine Food was held last night at the Porsche of the Village dealership last night. It was a benefit for the American Culinary Institute scholarship fund. There was some amazing talent represented and incredible food. I met Krista from Sugar Cupcakery in Milford and we talked about running a small business. Cup cakes and gelato do go together don't you think? Her business was featured on the Food Network. Wow! She is very passionate about her cupcakes and it shows. Erica was my assistant for the night. She is a student at the Midwest Culinary Institute. It turns out that we worked together years ago at the Chafer Caterer and Bakehouse Breads. It is a small world indeed. Thanks to all of you who stopped by and sampled. I enjoyed talking to all of you. I included this photo of some of the finer things in life. Thanks for supporting Madisono's

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Special Request

Yesterday Chef Owen Maas from Cumin calls and says he's looking for a new flavor for an idea he has. "What flavor?" I ask. "Concord grape" Owen replies. "When do you need it?" I say. "As soon as you can get it to me. Work your magic." As soon as I get of the phone the first person I call is my dad at 110 West Elder St. Madison's @ Findlay Market. "Do you have any concord grapes?" I ask. "Of course I do, how much do you need?" he says. That's how it is done at Madisono's. My parents store at Findlay is connected with so many fresh fruits and specialty items. I arranged to pick up the grapes with a bunch of butternut squash. I will be doing butternut next week and I can't wait.
I started this morning early, to get working on this grape gelato. Have you ever worked with Concords? The aroma is intense and when they start cooking it smells insanely delicious. Imagine being stuck in a jelly dream. This has a depth that goes way beyond the store bought jelly. It smells exactly how you imagine it to taste. Real, authentic, and full of flavor. These grapes were bursting with juice as you can see in the photo. To bad this is not a scratch and sniff. I prepared the grapes in a very specific and special way in order to capture all of their assets. The result is an amazing gelato, beautifully colored and full of concord grape flavor. You can find it at Cumin next week and at Findlay Market this weekend. Scooped fresh. We will package some more concord grape gelato into pints next week for everyone to take home.
Thanks for supporting Madisono's

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What are we doing today?

What are we doing today? What do we do every day? We make Cincinnati's best gelato and sorbet! Madisono's has the high honor of producing gelato and sorbet for The Dorothy Lane Markets in Dayton Ohio. This week we have several orders going out so we have dedicated much of our production time to fulfiling their orders. Grapefruit sorbet is one of those flavors and what better place to start? Start with Pink Grapefruits of course. I just finished cutting out all of the succulent fruit and preparing the base for the production run. Eye protection is required.

I stuck in this other photo of the Brick Auction from Sunday. I had a great time and enjoyed talking to many of you. Thanks to Howard Aine for his support of Madisono's. Madisono's will be back next year. You can see many of the photos of the bricks on their website.
I spent the morning making vanilla base for Madagascar Vanilla Gelato. What better place to start Madagascar Vanilla? Madagascar Vanilla beans! Once I had my ingredients measured out I opened the bag of beans and was instantly taken by the sweet fragrance of vanilla. It is hard to explain how good these things smell when you have hundreds of them in a room. For those of you who cook with real beans you know. Multiply that smell you get from one bean by a factor of 10 and it is dreamy. I gently cut the beans in half and then add them to the sweet milk and cream mix for cooking. The aroma fills the kitchen all day. (as I type this) Once the cooking is finished I will remove the vanilla base and it will be ready for freezing. That is what we will be doing tomorrow. And so it goes. Fruits, vanilla beans, fresh herbs, fresh milk, it never gets old or boring. The sights and smells change everyday with every flavor we make.
By the end of the day we will have made pink grapefruit sorbet, lemon basil sorbet, mango sorbet, and pumpkin gelato.
Thanks for supporting Madisono's

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Weekend update

Here is a photo of Zoo brew. For 1 and a half hours I did nothing but scoop gelato and sorbet! It was a blast. We were set up in the Manatee house and next to The Pickin' Pig. Randy Amann was picking a fine selection of classic rock and roll and did a great job. Pink Floyd, Niel Young and many more kept the room festive. You can see the masses of people behind me. It was a zoo. It looks like this was the Alphonso Mango sorbet, Dark Chocolate Orange and Caramello with Sea Salt line up. Three great flavors. The cups I used just happened to nest in the mini Samuel Adams beer glasses which made eating much easier.
This Sunday I will be at the Brick Auction which benefits breast cancer. I will have a great selection of gelato and sorbet on hand so if you don't have any plans stop by the auction and check out the art. Follow the link.
I am coaching my daughter's soccer team this year. It was our turn for snack so, because of the warm temperatures, we decided to do Mad Pops. Strawberry Lemonade. The parents were asking for them as well. This is a great flavor and they are available at Findlay Market. Thanks again to all of you from Zoo Brew if you see Madiosno's on the shelf think about taking home a pint.
Where to find it?
Bigg's Stores
Cork and Bottle locations
The Party Source
Whole Foods
Sunshine Foods
Carls Deli
Keller's IGA
Dillionvale IGA
Reading IGA
Garnish Catering
Luigi's International Market
Jungle Jim's
Coffee Emporium
Lookout Joe
Silverglade's on 8th
Kremer's Market Buttermilk Pike
College Hill Coffee Shop
Wyoming Wines
Wyoming Meat Market
Piazza Discepoli Wines Glendale
Bluebird Bakery Glendale
And the top restaurants in Cincinnati
Thanks for your support

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Zoo Brew and Huckleberries

Tonight I will be serving gelato and sorbet to more than 1000 people attending the Zoo Brew. This is a fundraising event that benefits CREW (Center for Conservation and Reproduction of Endangered Wildlife). There are several restaurants breweries, wines and other items for people to enjoy. The forecast for tonight is perfect. Madisono's will be set up in the Manatee house so if you are planning on attending please stop by and say hi. The picture here was taken yesterday. The beautiful rich color or pure Huckleberries is quite tempting. My parents had some left over huckleberries from their store at Findlay Market. My dad said, "is there anything you can do with those?" Well here it is. I cooked the berries, balanced the ph and then added them to our neutral gelato base. Our gelato bases are made from scratch. Not everyone does this by the way. The result is a very unique flavor that is 100% huckle berry. I have attached a link for huckleberries if you are interested in reading more about them. If you have never had them then please consider picking up a pint of this very seasonal flavor at 110 West Elder St. (Madison's) We only have a limited amount of huckles on hand. We also have a new Mad Pop flavor, strawbery lemonade.
Thanks for supporting Madisono's

Friday, October 1, 2010

Catching up......

This is a photo of the dessert served on September 19th for the Findlay Market benefit, Lunch on the Land. I used a mini brioche from Skirtz and Johnston and a scoop of blackberry gelato. The blackberries came from Madison's Ridgeview farm. Serving gelato on brioche is a Sicilian way of serving gelato. Madisono's is now serving the Lexington Wholefoods as well as Sunrise Bakery. I made an appointment with the owner of Sunrise Bakery, Steve. I showed up with several pints of gelato and sorbet. As we talked he brought out a freshly baked tray of brioche. Each one measured 3 inches in diameter and smelled divine. Steve told me then that he was going to serve the gelato in this manner and that it is very common in Sicily. He then proceeded to cut one open and carefully scooped in chocolate, french vanilla and pistachio, folded it over and tucked it into a wrap. The warm brioche against the cold gelato was and incredible combination. I knew then that this would be the perfect way to serve Madisono's for the Findlay event. It required no plate, spoon or anything. I think it is fair that Sunrise get credit for this concept, not that they invented it but that he has put it into practice. In the four years that I have been making gelato, none of my restaurant customers have ever served it in this way. Thanks Steve for the inspiration. The event was huge success. The participation of so many talented chefs, the scenic location (Turner Farm) and the weather made for a perfect day. Jay Erisman from The Party Source was resident Smilier and Amy Tobin was master of ceremonies.

All of us had a great time assisting each other on the line and I believe the guests had a good time as well.

Madisono's is still making Mad Pops and will have a new flavor at Findlay this week. Strawberry Lemonade.

Thanks for supporting Madisono's


Thursday, September 16, 2010

The mystery of flavor

This morning I started my day with a cup of tea and a bowl of Kashi cereal, the kind that tastes great with honey. The flavors of honey, milk, tea and a neutral cereal was pleasant. Each flavor was well balanced and complimented one another. What is the speed of flavor? Fast, slow, zig zag, or head on? In the frozen dessert business, flavor is the number one issue I consider everyday. Texture is a close second, but without the right balance, or intention, flavors can be slow, to fast, or wind up in a dead end. "Where do you go from there? No where." (Nigel Tufnel)
Today, one of my employees said he tried the Alphonso Mango gelato and did not favor it over the previous recipe. We began talking about flavor and how this mango gelato is different from the previous one. The Alphonso mango has a unique flavor. It is highly esteemed in the culinary world for it's texture and bold flavor. When you scoop into a pint of Madisono's Alphonso Mango gelato the full flavor of the fruit prevails. This new recipe is our neutral gelato mix(made from scratch at Madisono's) and Alphonso Mango. The simpler the better. But the flavor is different and I understand what he was saying. This flavor is fast by design and delivers a unique profile similar to a mango lassi. Try it with some cardamom on top, you will not be disappointed.
This weekend I am participating in the Findlay Market Fundraiser, Lunch on the Land. I have used Madison Ridgeview Farm blackberries to create a blackberry gelato. It will be served on a mini brioche from Skirtz and Johnston. I started by making a concentrated syrup from many pounds of frozen berries. The plan was to incorporate this pure syrup into the neutral gelato mix and process. The color of the syrup was a very deep purple and when mixed with the gelato mix turned a beautiful purple. Despite attempts to get this flavor into the fast lane it just refused to be hurried. I would classify this as a slow flavor, a single gear so to speak. Is this bad? My intention was to create a head on blast of blackberry, but the reality is that despite the volume of syrup added to the mix this will never happen. The use of all natural fruits and purees for flavoring gelato and sorbet is a challenge at times. So the solution is to embrace the reality of the flavor and accept it. What I decided to do was to process the blackberry gelato according to recipe design and then compliment it with puree as a swirl. The result is that I have a much more visually appealing gelato due to the marbling of the dark purple puree against a soft purple gelato. The puree adds a second gear to the flavor but does not corrupt the texture of the finished gelato. In the end I was pleased and I think that you will be as well. It will be available at Findlay Market this weekend while supplies last.
Thanks for supporting Madisono's

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A beautiful Saturday at Findlay Market

When I woke up this morning and the breeze was blowing a cool 6o degrees or so through my window the birds were chirping, and the sun was beginning to shine. A good day for Findlay. I had a bowl of oatmeal, some mangos and a pressed coffee. I arrived to scoop gelato from 10 t0 2:30 and had blast! We offer over 15 flavors of gelato and sorbet at the dipping station and today was the official debut of Madisono's Mad Pops. The response to the Mad Pops was great. We had three flavors, Alphonso Mango with pineapple, Redraspberry with strawberry, and Blackberry lemon. My wife designed some great stickers and we started using the impulse heat sealer on some new bags. The packaging looks great. Thanks Margot!
Madisono's is excited to be the first to bring this unique treat to Cincinnati. Lately, I have been introduced to many new music groups. I am lucky in that, I can listen to music all day long as loud as I want. We generate lots of noise in the production facility with blenders, batch freezers, and compressors running everywhere. It doesn't pay extra, but the benefit of music all day is worth something. I always want to jump into Wikipedia, Myspace or websites to get more information on these bands but time does not always allow it. I find that flavors are like music. Complex or simple arrangements that have emotion, depth and purpose. There just is not enough time to explore the abyss of flavor. So what is there to do?
Take a breath and slow down. Rome was not built in a day. Some bands may break up but their music will last. It will be there. Flavors will be there too. They are not going anywhere. Sure there may be a season to wait but for the most part they are there like notes waiting for placement. The introduction of Madisono's Mad Pops will give us many more flavor notes to compose with. It is my hope to bring to all of you a sweet melody on a stick.
Here is a band that I have taken the time to look into. I hope you enjoy it. Mexican Elvis,

Thanks for supporting Madisono's

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Madisono's Mad Pops debut at Findlay Market

Those of you who follow this blog know that posts do not show up regularly. I would like to say that I am working on doing a better at this. I hope to post at least once a week and maybe more. There are some great things happening at Madisono's and I love to talk about it.
What is a Mad Pop you ask? A Mad Pop is a frozen fruit pop, made with real fruits and madisono's sorbet. Imagine Alphonso mango sorbet with pineapple or Madiosno's lemon sorbet and blackberries, or red raspberry sorbet and fresh strawberries. Each fruit batch is made from scratch and then poured into the molds. Everything about this concept is done by hand and in very small batches. I think this would qualify as artisan. Once frozen they are removed and then packaged. This idea has been brewing for a long and I am finally able to introduce some initial products for people to try and get some input on them. I have been overwhelmed at flavor possibilities. So many flavors and so little time.
Pops are nothing new, we all had them as kids but they were just frozen juice, with fake food colors and artificial flavors. Even today they are still made with crappy ingredients. Mad Pops is offering something very different. There is so much fruit in these you can feel it. The lemon blackberry is made with blackberries from Madison's Ridgeview Farm in Adams County. We froze many pounds of berries just for Mad Pops. The inspiration for pops is found in the Mexican Paletas. My sister in law is from Panama and all through Latin America paletas are everywhere, made with real fruits and simple ingredients. Paleta shops are showing up in places around the country and now they are available here. We have some big plans for Mad Pops here in Cincinnati. More on that later. If you get to Findlay Market stop in to Madison's for a Mad Pop and let me know what you think. Have a good holiday weekend.
Thanks for supporting Madisono's Gelato

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NPR Pitango Gelato Story

This morning I was snoozing through a 5:30 am wake up. I am not sure which cycle it was, maybe the first or second, but the alarm clock started up just as a story came on about Pitango Gelato. Steve Inskeep introduced the story and needless to say I was awake! Click on Pitango for the NPR story. At the end of the story something resonated with me. The venture capitol person being interviewed said that they are trying to figure out if artisan can become mainstream. The interviewer then follows up with a summary of the concept of whether or not high quality ingredients can be used and then sold at a high price.
Will artisan go mainstream? This poses an interesting argument. What is artisan and what is mainstream? I can think of several artisan companies that are in the mainstream. LaBrea breads from the west coast, and many of the fine cheeses produced domestically and abroad still maintain a method of production that is not much different from when they started out. The difference is that they just make more. There are many craft beers on the market today and many chocolate companies that use rustic techniques to produce their products. Small food companies make quality food using techniques that they have to use, because they can't afford the alternative. They may also believe that certain techniques produce the best quality product. Most of the time ingredients and technique are what make things taste better than the mass produced stuff. I am not sure that the issue is whether or not artisan can go mainstream or not it is whether or not the artist can produce enough to be in the mainstream.
The other issue brought up in the story was whether or not high quality ingredients can be used and then sold at a high price? Recently the New York Times ran an story from Julia Moskin on the price of artisan ice creams. How can they justify the $10.00 pint? Price is based on many factors. The use of high quality ingredients commands a higher price at the end. There is no other way about it. The issue is will people pay for it? When I ran a small shop I used to make cranberry chicken salad. People placed orders in advance for weddings and parties. It was very good. We used the highest quality ingredients available. When food reps would come in and notice that I was using Hellman's they would always offer their product for half the price with the slogan, "they will never know the difference." The other brand was cheaper and would increase my profits but it was not as good as Hellman's. And my customers could taste the difference. I had an offer to use already cut celery, and chopped onions, but in the end the cheaper foods would never amount to a better product, just a cheaper one. I never had to try these products because I already knew. You can't use cheap products and then charge a high price. Not many people run food costs at home or do the math on potion costs when they cook a meal. Bacos or bacon? I think we all know that you can't fake the real thing and it is worth every penny.
I got up, had my tea and breakfast then headed off to make more gelato. I'm not worried about artisan going mainstream. I just hope that there is not the same silly debate over artisan as there was over organic. Remember that? At first it was organic then certified organic and then biodynamic, and now it has settled on local. Which has always made more sense. Let's leave the titles out and just enjoy good food, made with quality ingredients, that are made locally.
Thanks for supporting Madisono's

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blueberry, Peach and Nectarine at Findlay

I spent a good part of Tuesday processing fruit from my parents store for some new flavors. These will be dipped at findlay and served at Prima Vista restaurant. Don't look for them in pints but if you want a pint to take home just ask. The Findlay staff will be happy to assist you.
Many of you know that Madisono's is a partner with Sustain Brands. Sustain brand foods are popping up all over town. Many of them are sold at Madison's @ Findlay 110 W. Elder St. They have salsa, fresh salsa and some soups. If you click here, there is a link about Sustain Brands if you want to know more about them and their philosophy on foods.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Big Award for Madisono's!

The sign says it all. A big thanks to Cincinnati Magazine for the award. I am grateful for such and award. Did you know that we make our own gelato bases from scratch? This means that all of the ingredients are mixed and then pasteurized at the plant. Did you know that we make four different gelato bases? They are neutral, chocolate, dark chocolate and cinnamon. The sorbet bases are also made from scratch. Each sorbet has it's own recipe. This is why Madisono's tastes so good.
This past weekend was quite busy. Saturday morning I set up for the Lady Distance Classic 5k/10K run in Blue Ash. The morning was cool and crisp. We sampled mango sorbet, lemon basil sorbet, dark chocolate gelato, French vanilla gelato, and caramello with sea salt gelato. Thanks to all of you who stopped by for samples. We will be back next year with some new flavors. If you shop at Whole Foods you would know that this past week was local week and that means demos. I traveled to Columbus on Saturday to the Dublin store and sampled to the masses. What a great event! I brought home some organic dog treats and met some great people. Sunday was another demo at the Upper Arlington store which turned out to be a great day too. Thanks to all of you who sampled and purchased Madisono's. Yes the Maple Nut with Brown Sugar is crazy delicious. I am looking forward to lunch on the land in September.
On Tuesday of this week I am going to make some peach, nectarine and blueberry gelato. I got some great fruit from my parents store at Findlay Market and can not wait to offer them to all of you. They will be available for dipping this weekend. Thanks again to Cincinnati Magazine for the award.
Thanks to all of you for your support.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cincinnati Ride June 13 2010

Today I am serving gelato and sorbet at the Cincinnati Ride for Breast Cancer Research located at Sawyer Point. The weather looks good and I am looking forward to it. Thanks to all of you who took part in the event and to those of you who stopped by to sample!

Here is a list of locations where you can find Madisono's Gelato and Sorbet

Bigg's Hide Park
Bigg's Mason
Bigg's Anderson
Bigg's Pleasant Ridge
Whole Foods Mason
Whole Foods Rookwood
Pipkins Market Blue Ash
Garnish Catering Blue Ash
Ferrari's Little Italy Maderia
Cork and Bottle Buttermilk
Cork and Bottle Covington
The Party Source
Madison's At Findlay Market (Dipped Fresh in the store )
Sunshine Foods Hyde Park
Carl's Deli Hyde Park
Coffee Emporium Downtown
Luigi's Market Mason
Pitrelli's Mason
College Hill Coffee Company
Keller's IGA
Dillonvale IGA
Meiner's Meats Bridgetown
Servati's Western Hills
Wyoming Wines
Wyoming Meats
Please consider purchasing Madisono's from one of these fine retail locations. My sorbet is dairy free and did you know that Madisono's is made with 8% butterfat and fewer calories than regular ice cream?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cincinnati Flower Show

I am proud to announce that Madisono's is teaming up with Chef's Choice Catering to offer 8oz individual serving cups at the 2010 Cincinnati Flower and Garden Show. My new flavor, Honey Lavender, will make it's debut at the show. Made with honey and real lavender, this flavor is incredible. The texture is like nothing I have ever made before and I can not wait to share it with all of you. Chef's choice will also offer Lemon sorbet and Chocolate Gelato in 8oz cups. These 8oz single serve cups are now available at the following locations:
College Hill Coffee Shop,
SilverGlades on 8th,
Madison's At Findlay Market,
Angelo's Pizza in Montgomery,
Abby Girl Sweets on 5ht St.
Lookout Joe Mt. Lookout
The cups are available in the following flavors. Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Dark Chocolate Orange, Honey Lavender, Chocolate Chip, Lemon Sorbet and Red Raspberry Sorbet. Honey Lavender is just now coming out so give that a week or so before it is available in those locations, but don't forget to ask them for it.

Madisono's is now available at Madison's Market 110 W. Elder St. dipped by hand Tuesday through Sunday. Last week was the soft opening and it was anything but soft! Thanks to all of you who bouht a cup. Madisono's offers a huge portion for just $3.00. Compared to other offerings of gelato around town this is a great deal. Just because Madisono's bases are made from scratch with local milk, all natural ingredients, just because we use the finest ingredients available and just because it is made is small batches does not mean that it has to be expensive. We will offer fresh cut strawberries as a topping this week and will debut our Sorbet Fizz menu very soon. Thanks for your support
Also try my new Caramello with sea salt. Only available at Madison's or Via Vite.


Soapbox Cincinnati

Last week I had the great pleasure of talking with Elena Stevenson from Cincinnati Soapbox. She had called to set up a time to do a phone interview about Madisono's Gelato and we were able to connect last Thursday. Elena had some great questions. I say this all the humility in the world but I love being interviewed. Let me explain. I spend all day, all night thinking about my business. I even dream about it. Sometimes they are good dreams but most of the time they are anxiety based for one reason or another. Owning and running a small business is hard, regardless of what the business does. While thinking about my business, be it about finances, new flavor names, pricing, sales, inspections, sales leads and everything else, there rarely comes a time when things are in real perspective. When being interviewed, the questions cause me to think about my business in a different way. I recalled my days at the Findlay market farm shed, working on the farm 9 years ago, selling shiitake mushrooms, and all the great milestones since I founded Madisono's. I would never, in a normal day have time or the reason to take all of that into account within a 10 minute stretch. For me, the interview is like looking back on a scrap book with fond memories. It also helps me to see just how far I have come and how much work has gone into where I am now. Sometimes I get caught up in the details of the now and forget to look at the real picture. Interviews help me put it all back into a framework that despite the immediate challenges of the day, I am doing what I love to do. Create. I am excited about dipping fresh gelato at Findlay Market. I am excited about the warm weather and I have much more to share with all of you. For now here is the link to the interview.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hand Dipped at Findlay Market

Well folks it is official!
Madisono's will be available at Madison's @ Findlay Market dipped by hand starting in April. On Monday I deliverd the dipping case and my Dad has made some changes in the store to accomodate it. The dipping will take place in the front of the store. I am using a traditional dipping case which I feel will deliver a better texture and better quality. I will offer toppings and am very exicted about using all of my parents fresh fruits as toppings as well. In the summer time they get some amazing quality blueberries from Michigan and in the late summer the best tasting red raspberries from the same farm. Can you imagine fresh red raspberries served over Madisono's vanilla? Wow! I think the options are endless. I will be offering a great portion at a great price. If you in the store you will not be able to miss it. It is my expectation to offer several flavors of gelato and sorbet and rotate different flavors each week. I can not wait for warmer weather. Please let your friends know that Madisono's is coming soon to Findlay Market Fresh!

Madisono's and Sustain Brand

I have bloged about Sustain Brand before and I have some great material to share. Sustain Brand is an part of Kennedy Creative, a local company in Cincinnati. Matt Kennedy, the founder, has developed Sustain Brand in an effort to help small producers get larger market oppertunities and bring the local awareness to their products. Here is a link to a video. There is another video on Matt delivering salsa to a local IGA. You may know Cactus Pear Salsa? It is at the bottom of the video. Matt also had some great news in Soapbox. Here is the link to that. Right now Sustain Brand Gelato and Sorbet is available at Jungle Jim's and Rivertown IGA. There are two new flavors coming out for that label and they are Black Raspberry Sorbet and Sumatran Java Gelato. The unique part of the Sustain relationship is that producers do not lose any equity in their brand. My story is told on the backside of the label. I am looking forward to working with Matt in on many more markets.
I hope all of you have enjoyed the snow. I have. It is not the best time to sell gelato and sorbet but that is fine. Spring is just around the corner.
Thanks for all of your continued support!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Findlay Market Tasting

I want to thank everyone that stopped by today at Findlay Market. By the looks on your faces, the new flavors were a big hit. Thanks for all of your support. When I started it as fast approaching the mid 50's and sunny but by 1:15 the grey clouds, wind and falling temps were keeping the gelato cold and me as well. I had great time and enjoyed talking with folks I had not seen in a while. I am very excited about Findlay Market and have many things planned for the new year. My parents store, 110 W. Elder St. will have many more flavors to offer than most so consider Madisons at Findlay for your total flavor fix. I hope to have the website worked on in the next month or so. I still have a couple of new flavors that will be out in March and those are going to be good. More to come on that later. Thanks for your support.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Flavors At Last

Today is a great day at the Madisono's production kitchen. I started production on some of the new flavors today. What are they you ask?
Burnt Sugar with Star Anise
Sumatran Java
Julia's Favorite Mango is now made with 100% pure Alphonso Mango
Black Raspberry
Alphonso Mango
I have waited 3.5 years to produce Black Raspberry sorbet and now it is happening. Why the wait? I had always tried to work with fresh or frozen berries. The problem is the seeds. There are just to many and that upsets the texture of the finished sorbet. I have finally found a domestic source of Black Raspberry puree that is incredible. When you taste this sorbet it is like eating a bowl of fresh berries. There are so many options for this flavor it makes my head spin.
The Alphonso Mango is just an incredible mango. I always thought that my mango sorbet was good but this new flavor is over the top. The color, aroma and texture of this eats like a perfectly ripe mango. It still holds the name Julia's Favorite Mango.
Burnt sugar is one that I have been looking at for a while and now I am pleased to share it with you. I burn my own sugar in house and have a special process by which it is made into the gelato. I have always liked working with the savory and Star Anise is a great compliment to this dynamic flavor. If you like creme brulee then you will love this new flavor.
How long will it be before you can get these new flavors? Well we are delivering all of them to Findlay Market this Week and many other customers. It may take a little time before everyone has them. There are still some pints of the the previous mango sorbet on the shelves and that will need to be sold before they order the new. All of our independant customers will be adding them over the next few weeks. They will not be available at Bigg's or Whole Foods just yet. We are starting with the independants first. Let us know what you think.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cupcakes and Gelato in Downtown

I just returned from a trip downtown. Delivered a few flavors to Via Vite and delivered a new freezer to AbbyGirl Sweets. They are moving from Oakley to Downtown next to the Hilton on 5ht street. There is at least 20 feet of windo display wich is decorated with real cupcakes. They are set to open on Thursday, just in time for the big snow. The exciting news is that Madisono's and AbbyGirl are working together to offer something unique in Cincinnati. The first cupcake shop that serves gelato. We have all had cake and ice cream but cupcakes and gelato is it! They will offer French Vanilla and Chocolate to start and we will add more flavors very soon. The portions will be prescooped on site and put into authentic gelato cups imported from Italy.
The location is just one block away from the Square and is perfect for a quick visit. There are few tables and chairs as well. They will be offering coffee also. We will dilver the first order next week and should be ready to go by 15th.
AbbyGirl is owned by Nathana and Andrea, a husband and wife team and named after thier daughter Abby. Check out their website for more information. I need to say that they make an icing that is like no other. Seriously. You have never had one like this before. Stop in and say hay, get a cupcake and get ready for gelato.
My labels are due in this week and that means new flavors will be coming soon.