Ice Cream Joins Cheese, Chocolate In Artisan Trend
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Just down the street from our studios in Washington, D.C. a new gelato shop opened up recently. It's called Pitango Gelato and people line up to pay $5 for a small cup of Italian-style ice cream.� That's almost as much as they'd pay for a Starbucks coffee. A lot of money. Now, normally we wouldn't bring up developments in our neighborhood, but it turns out this shop is part of a growing food trend in artisan food, as NPR's Tamara Keith reports.��
TAMARA KEITH: It took three months and hundreds of miles behind the wheel for Noah Dan to find the milk he'd use in his gelato.�His search stopped here at the Spring Wood Organic Farm in rural Pennsylvania, where the cows wander green pastures and munch on grass year-round.
Mr. NOAH DAN (Pitango Gelato): And that's what brought me here initially, I was looking for the best milk I could get.
KEITH: This place is postcard-perfect.�I mean, there's even a litter of golden retriever puppies running around. Dan grew up in Israel, but he developed a taste for gelato visiting relatives in Italy.�
Mr. DAN: The idea was to create a product that is simple and wholesome, without any chemicals, based wholly on the strength of its ingredients.
KEITH: When Dan first showed up, the dairy's owner, Roman Stoltzfoos, didn't know what to think.��
Mr. ROMAN STOLTZFOOS (Spring Wood Organic Farm): I thought it was strange.�I didn't know what gelato was, didn't have a clue.
KEITH: It's like ice cream, but with a lower fat content.�That means it has less air and is more dense, often with a richer flavor.�Now Stoltzfoos knows gelato well.�About 10 percent of his dairy's milk goes to Pitango Gelato.
Mr. STOLTZFOOS: We like the fact that our milk is going into a product that is quality, that people can choose to buy.�Yeah, it's a little pricey, but what do you get for nothing nowadays?
KEITH: In addition to the milk, Dan gets eggs right here on the farm, too, from free range chickens. The eggs don't come cheap at $3.50 a dozen.
Mr. DAN: But we are happy to pay, you know, because that's the real cost of real food.
KEITH: But we're happy to pay it might as well be the motto at Pitango Gelato.�Dan delights at finding the very best ingredients, Pennsylvania red raspberries, organic vanilla from Papua New Guinea, pistachios from the foothills of Mount Etna in Sicily.��
And there are plenty of people who will pay extra for those kinds of premium ingredients, says Kara Nielson, the trendologist at the Center for Culinary Development in San Francisco.��
Ms. KARA NIELSON (Center for Culinary Development, San Francisco): That really resonates with a lot of people as a strong, clear way of the future, by way of the past.
KEITH: She's identified artisan foods - ice cream, cheese, chocolates - as one of the hot trends in the food business this year, even as a down economy has most consumers watching their expenses carefully.
Ms. NIELSON: There definitely is a price tag. And the trick is, you know, can a business person find the consumers that believe in what he or she is doing.
KEITH: Adam Borden agrees.�He's the managing director of Bradmer Foods, a specialty food venture capital fund.��
Mr. ADAM BORDEN (Managing director, Bradmer Foods): We are certainly trying to figure out whether artisan can become more mainstream. And I think by its very definition, it's designed to be filling a particular niche.� So in the case of Pitango, they certainly fill the niche for people who want a decadent treat.
KEITH: Borden is considering an investment in Pitango Gelato. He believes there's money to be made in offering high quality ingredients at a high price.�His biggest concern about Pitango's business model gets at something much simpler.�Winter.�People don't eat a lot of ice cream, or gelato, when it's cold.�
Tamara Keith, NPR News.
INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.