I’m usually pretty good at thinking of gifts for Matt. I’ve gotten him Yankee tickets and concert tickets for his birthday, a messenger bag for his new job, and a Patagonia jacket and couple’s massage last Christmas (okay, the couple’s massage clearly benefited me as well, but you get the gist). But this year for some reason, I was having trouble thinking of a good Christmas gift.
On our commute to work one morning, we both ended up admitting we were having trouble thinking of gifts for each other. A year and a half of dating and we were out of ideas?!
That day at work, I racked my brain for a good idea. As a couple, we typically tend to prefer experiences over material gifts. So, I found myself on the most reliable source for affordable experiences – good ole Groupon.
As I browsed, I realized some sort of cooking class might be a fun idea. We always talk about learning to cook (other than pasta, chicken, and the occasional tacos, our collective knowledge in the kitchen is pretty much slim to none). I looked into some general cooking classes, but the meals didn’t seem like anything we would want to recreate again.
My next thought was a pasta or bread making class, since we sure do love our carbs. But given my personal obsession with these foods, it felt like a gift that would be just as much for me. That’s when I saw it – gelato making! Thanks to Matt’s love for the Talenti gelato brand, my decision was quickly made. I purchased the Groupon and booked the class in less than five minutes flat.
Now, if you read my last blog post, you know that Matt’s Christmas/birthday gift to me was pretty spectacular – how can you beat a helicopter ride over Manhattan? But we were both still excited about learning to make gelato, and even more excited about the four pints (each!) we were promised.
Of course, the night that I scheduled our class was the day after a snowstorm and in the midst of the “bomb cyclone” that was sending a serious chill up and down the east coast. In the 10°F weather, Matt and I made our way over to Mia Chef Gelateria‘s third avenue location.
Located in the basement of a hair salon, the classroom had a classic New York feel. In the middle of the room was a long, tall table, with measuring bowls and ingredients already waiting for us.
Though Matt and I were the first students to get there, soon the rest of the participants had arrived and class began. We were making four different flavors; french vanilla, dutch chocolate, Rolo candy, and cookies and cream. Fun fact about me: I don’t like chocolate! Fine, say I’m not a woman and judge all you like, but on the bright side it meant that Matt would have three of the chocolate flavors all to himself.
The first flavor we created was the french vanilla. The process was super easy – the whiteboard at the front of the class detailed the measurements for the white base, which was the foundation of every flavor. We would pass the ingredients around the table and take turns measuring the correct amount of each into our bowl.
Then, we would collect each station’s white base into one big vat and hand it off to our gelato master, Jason, who would then pour it into the gelato machine and wait for it to do its magic.
This machine casually costs $25,000. Jason explained to us that it has the capability to sense if the mixture is not the correct temperature to become the right gelato consistency, and will adjust itself as necessary.
In only a few minutes, the machine turns the mixture into fresh, beautiful gelato. We got to sample the french vanilla as soon as it came out of the machine. It was definitely the best gelato I had ever tried, and I’ve even had gelato in Italy.
We continued on with the white base recipe process three more times for the three additional flavors. Matt and I took turns measuring ingredients into the bowl, and with each round we got quicker and more efficient. We were practically gelato masters ourselves!
Jason also showed us how to brûlée gelato, which is essentially creating a sugary crust by using a chef’s torch. With the torch, he carefully burned the surface of a scoop of day old gelato. The result was delicious – the flame gave it a sweet yet smokey taste. A really cool demonstration, though I can’t say that I will be purchasing myself a chef’s torch anytime soon.
At last, all four of the gelato flavors were complete. Jason scooped the finished products into pint-sized containers for us to bring home, and Matt assisted him by putting the lids on and passing them out.
As I said earlier, we each got four pints of gelato – one pint of each flavor we’d made. If you’re doing the math, then yes, that means together Matt and I took home EIGHT PINTS of homemade gelato.
Jason explained that each of these would retail for about $10.00 and I briefly considered taking to the streets to sell them, but quickly realized not many people would be in the market for a cold dessert in this weather (and greedily wanted to keep all of it for ourselves).