the latest scoop
It has been nearly a month since that fateful day when an email from DailyCandy.com arrived in my inbox, boasting of London’s next best gelataria. Having been confined to getting my gelato fix exclusively from Cafe Ciao on Charing Cross road, I was eager to sample Scoop’s authentic Italian gelato, made with the best Italian ingredients. So after an afternoon of mooching around the Tate Britain, I finally made a visit.
Well, actually, I had previously made two unsuccessful attempts to seek out Scoop this month, attempts of which were foiled only because I never noted down the address and just knew it was in the general vicinity of Covent Garden… So this time, I sketched a rough map in my diary to make sure I would find it.
Once you’re inside the door you’ll be greeted by a massive display of at least 15 flavours of gelato, all heaving and rolling (well, not actively, but you can almost see the movement) majestically in their containers; some drizzled with rich dark chocolate, some dotted with little crunchy biscuits. The interior is bright and cheery, decked out in orange walls and bright blue tables at the back (thought there are only three tables for seating. It’s a shame that there isn’t any al fresco seating!).
As the girl in front of me hummed and ahhed over her choices, I hovered around the glass case, eyes a-darting from gelato to gelato. I knew I had to get pistachio, my absolute favourite. But what else? Soon the woman behind the counter (who looked slightly frazzled) asked what I wanted. Going with the medium chocolate-nut cone, I chose pistachio, tiramisu, and Arabic coffee. It’s worth noting that the large cone will get you FIVE scoops! I had the medium one, which was 4 pounds (eep). A little word of advice: pick your favourite flavour last! My poor pistachio was buried deep within the cone, smooshed by the other two scoops; when in reality that was the first flavour I wanted to try. Indeed, think ahead, my friends…
The chocolate nut cone was scrumptious, but I think I will stick to a cup next time as I didn’t like how the sweetness of the cone interfered with the natural flavours of the gelato – as a result, while the entire thing was tasty, it was just err-ing on the side of being too sweet. I blame the chocolate (but it was so good…). The Arabic coffee flavour was amazing – earthy yet light at the same time, a world apart from regular coffee, which I assume is due to the flavour of cardamom (which I’ve never tasted before). Very good. The tiramisu in comparison was a little weak, which is probably my fault for choosing two flavours that share the coffee element. The Arabic coffee was stronger and so washed out the flavour of the tiramisu. Finally, after wolfing down the first two scoops, I finally reached my pistachio. I knew when it happened because that deliciously smooth, fragrant buttery nuttiness hit my tastebuds. Mmmmmmm, I sure do love pistachio. It was as great as I’d expected it to be – the pistachio gelato is, according to the website:
…uniquely made with pure pistachios from Bronte, a tiny Sicilian village known world wide for its limited pistachios production (once every two years). The volcanic soil of Sicily gives the pistachios a unique and delicious toasted flavour.
After smacking my lips with satisfaction, I decided that my visit wouldn’t be complete without a classic Italian cappucino – and I was particularly interested in how well it would be made. I’ve rarely ever had a truly GOOD cappucino in London – the coffee shops usually think that they can get away with a pitiful slick of airy foam on top of what is otherwise just a latte, what with all the milk added (read: all the milk that wasn’t bubbled into foam). So I went up to the counter and ordered one, also taking the opportunity to chat to Matteo. And he took the opportunity to proudly tell me that their gelato is freshly made each day, with the finest ingredients. I asked him what his favourite flavour was: “It changes, depending on my mood!”. In the meantime, his friend (who he has known forever from Tuscany) got to work preparing my cappucino.
My coffee though, was surprisingly underwhelming. It was no different from the pretend-cappucinos many cafes in London serve – the foam too airy, and it wasn’t even a centimetre thick. I’d drank most of the foam off even before I’d reached the halfway point! Shrugging and getting back to my newspaper, I thought, “at least the gelato was stellar…”
At this point Matteo came out from behind the bar and came over to my table and amicably started chatting to me. I can’t even remember how it started, but it was such a friendly gesture. He came over and pointed to the freezer to my left (filled with sundaes, cakes and puddings) and started telling me about the fantastic tasty things he was planning for Scoop – such as introducing more classic Italian desserts, as well as offering mini semifreddos, tiramisus, and so on. He really has a passion for Italian desserts, and clearly wants the whole of London to know more about them and eat them ;) Anyways, I just couldn’t leave without telling him about the mediocre cappucino – how would any self-respecting Italian allow the memory of a badly made coffee stay with a patron? Indeed, he looked slightly appalled and quickly spoke in rapid Italian to his mate, and before I could protest, they whipped me up another one, free of charge. Matteo said he was surprised that the first one turned out the way it did, because his friend owns a coffee shop in Italy. Every barista has his day I suppose!
The next cup was truly magnificent. Dense, creamy foam with little, even microscopic, air bubbles. Sitting haughtily, rising just slightly above the rim of the cup. Perfect. And the final mark of a great cappucino? When there’s still a layer of creamy foam sitting at the bottom of the cup after you’ve drained all the espresso. I was satisfied. I thanked the both of them, feeling just slightly embarassed that I’d made myself seem like such a demanding customer.
After more shop chat with Matteo, I took a few pictures and off I went, smiling. This is definitely going to be one of my usual haunts now. The fact that Matteo is so passionate about what he does, is dedicated to educating Londoners about Italian dessert, and genuinely cares about what his customers think and chats to you like an old friend, is truly commendable.
40 Shorts Gardens
Phone: 0207 2407 086