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