Artisanal ice creameries are churning out frozen treats that beat the heat

11-07-2015

Amidst the sweltering summer, like many Czechs, I began to crave some ice cream. Thankfully, this frozen substance has become something of a universal language, so it was no surprise that Prague offers some terrific ice cream opportunities. Ovocný Světozor has been serving ice cream to locals since 1992, and it doesn’t look like the popularity is going to dissipate anytime soon. Angelato and Puro are two establishments that serve gelato made the Italian way, based on using fresh ingredients and ensuring that each flavor is handmade in small batches.

Illustrative photo: Becco Eliacik / freeimagesIllustrative photo: Becco Eliacik / freeimages Světozor seems to always have long queues on a hot day. They do nice sorbets and most of the classic ice cream flavors. It is located in the Světozor passage, and I find it quite a lovely afternoon break to get a scoop and join other locals in the nearby rose garden.

Angelato at Újezd typically has a line out the door. But at 11am on a Wednesday, I was able to sit down with the owner, Biljana Kebakoska, to discuss the concept of her shop. Kebakoska, a Serbian woman, told me that she opened the store with her husband, a Macedonian man. They opened Angelato at Můstek eight years ago, and the Újezd location just one year ago.

Their business revolves around the concept of “Slow Food”, so most ingredients are local, and recipes change with the seasons. Each month, the shop concocts a variety of unusual flavors based on the season – like pumpkin sorbet in October, black tea in March, fennel in April, and asparagus sorbet in May.

With 24 flavors available per day it was quite difficult for me to pick out my favorite, so with the help of the friendly staff I sampled a variety. The flavor of the month, olive oil and basil, was an interesting combination of sweet and savory, highlighting the fresh basil without being overpowering. It was surprisingly refreshing and absolutely delicious. The coconut gelato had a wonderfully thick consistency and real shreds of coconut.

Czech influence comes in the form of poppy seed and plum gelatos – one of the most popular flavours, given that Kebakoska tells me Czechs are the shop’s main clientele. The Serbian raspberry gelato uses berries straight from Serbia, and has a refreshingly tart flavor.

Puro at Vyton is another gelato establishment running on pure dedication. Owner L’udmila Straková is a young Slovakian, whose professional training by some of the best gelato masters in the world led her to open her own shop just 2 months ago. After spending 10 years in Germany designing restaurants, the self-proclaimed “foodie” attended a gelato school in Bologna where she and 14 other international students learned the sacred art form. I am encouraged to taste any and all of the 12 flavors on display. L’udmila says this custom is somewhat un-Czech, and some locals are quite surprised by the willingness of the staff to create samplers for indecisive ice cream lovers.

I indulge in a sampler of cucumber, black current, chocolate orange, peach, and salted caramel gelatos. The cucumber sorbet was especially refreshing, and on the hot day, was the perfect frozen pick-me -up. L’udmila makes all of the gelato herself, from scratch, without the use of any pre-made flavorings or artificial binders. Even as the main producer and owner, the 14-hour long days do not appear to have diminished her spirits in the slightest. She speaks of gelato like a scientist and explains how once you understand the chemistry behind it, you can make gelato out of everything, even beer. Of her clientele, 40 percent of the customers are expats, and amongst those are regular patrons who come in daily for their sweet fix. As I speak with L’udmila I begin to hear a common theme that I have been told by several restaurant owners in Prague – that people are more willing than ever to pay for quality food.

11-07-2015