An Open Love Letter to Capogiro Gelato, Philadelphia

Unicorn and gelato

I am sort of embarrassed that I have not yet written about Capogiro Gelato in Philadelphia.

I first came in contact with the ambrosial gelato experience that is Capogiro about a year ago, when I was in Philadelphia for my book tour for CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life . I asked that designed-for-crowd-sourcing tool known as Twitter where the best gelato in the city could be found. The refrain echoed resoundingly: CAPOGIRO. Wonderfully, there was a location not far from 30th street station, my point of entry into the city. 

Gelato from Capogiro, Philadelphia

I walked from the station to their location on 20th street, where I tried two flavors: Lancaster pumpkin with walnut gelato.

Oh. My. God. 

This is some of the best gelato I have ever tasted, and I have tasted a lot, let me tell you. The pumpkin was mellow and sweet, and the walnut tasted rich and smooth, with an aftertaste that reminded me of lightly salted butter (god, is that ever a good thing). The overall experience was made even more magical because of the fact that I was hoping for a mere gelato fix, but ended up having one of my most exquisite gelato experiences to date. What a wonderful suprise. 

I was in Philadelphia for 2 days on that visit, and I visited Capogiro about 3 more times (you do the math). While I'd say the pumpkin and walnut combo was still the best one-two punch, I had several other very good experiences, including macadamia with dulce de leche; chocolate malt with marshmallow; burnt sugar with cashew.

Pistachio and burnt sugar gelato, Capogiro

When I returned to Philadelphia this year to reside in the fair city for a while, it became my personal mission to try every flavor in their case. 

Gelato from Capogiro, Philadelphia

One of the things I've loved best about discovering Capogiro is their creatively curated case: the flavors vary by day, so you have a chance to curate your own flavor experience each time you go. From the classics (vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, stracciatella, pistachio) to some more exotic (candied black cherry, burnt sugar, bananas foster, marshmallow) and then seasonal (peach; pumpkin, etc, when in season) Well, while I wouldn't say I've hit every flavor, I have done a very good job. 

Not that you asked, but my personal favorite flavors (the ones I have to get every time I go) are the following. I'll mix up what I pair them with, but I will always choose one of the following as my first flavor when I go. Don't get mad at me if they don't have the one you're crushing on when you visit, though!

-Sorrento Walnut: I think they secretly lace this flavor with crack, because it's just so good. Also very good: cashew, macadamia, hazelnut, pistachio. But the walnut is my smooth jam when it comes to a nutty gelato.

-Burnt Sugar: It's dark and toasty in flavor yet so smooth and creamy in texture; richly interesting.

-Philly Cream cheese: Gilding the lily? Perhaps, but it's like the gelato equivalent of cream cheese frosting. Pair it with a fruit gelato (I loved it with the peaches and cream, when in season)

-Cioccolato Scuro: If I am in the mood for a deep, dark, rich chocolate that WILL stick to my teeth and imbue my soul with pure chocolate happiness, this is the flavor to go with. If you're brave, pair it with something like chocolate hazelnut for a chocolatey one-two punch. Om nom. I've also really enjoyed it with the avocado gelato - live a little and try it.

-Marshmallow: I know, I know, this one is kind of the dark horse, because I wouldn't classify myself as a marshmallow lover. But it's a smooth, rich flavor that is perfect when matched with either a chocolate variety or a nutty or caramelly variety; it really just works. Trust me on it.

Capogiro, I love you. You've made my time in Philadelphia so much sweeter, creamier, and richer (in more ways than one). You've inspired my creativity and flavor profile skills, and even if I don't stay in Philadelphia forever, I will remain your loyal customer every time I return!

 Capogiro, multiple locations in Philadelphia; online here.

Gelat-O-Clock: La Copa Loca, San Francisco

La Copa Loca

Recently, while visiting SpySis in San Francisco (where she manages a fashion boutique), I had a craving for ice cream. This happens often.

Now, I really wanted to visit Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, which had been suggested by Anita Chu.

But when we got there, they had the saddest sign up: "SOLD OUT". What?!?

La Copa Loca

So, we did a quick search on where to find frozen sweets, FAST, and what came up was La Copa Loca, a gelato place in the Mission. I love gelato, so this was very acceptable. 

Now, I should tell you that the selection of flavors was beautiful--surprisingly thorough for a small space, including Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Panna Cotta, Mexican chocolate, chestnut, and more.

I got a combo of deliciousness: French vanilla bean, and pumpkin (a special that day).

The French vanilla was a standout, lightly eggy and very rich, incredibly creamy in that "it-is-gonna-coat-your-mouth-but-that's-a-good-thing-because-you-don't-want-the-flavor-to-end" sort of way. The pumpkin gelato was sweetly spiced and acted as a beautiful complement to the rich vanilla--together, the two flavors were almost like eating the beating heart of pumpkin pie in frozen form, and man, was that a nice experience.

La Copa Loca

Sadly, while SpySis's dog, Hamilton, was eager to be SpyDog, he did not get any gelato. Maybe he'll talk to me again one day.

La Copa Loca Gelato, 3150 22nd street, San Francisco, CA 94110find La Copa Loca on Facebook here.

Gelat-o-Clock: A Visit to Gelato Classico, San Francisco

Gelato Classico, San Francisco

When it comes to Gelato, the setting is a big part of the experience. It is, as I like to say, a “strolling food”, so all the better to have sweet surroundings while you stroll and enjoy your treat.

That having been said, in San Francisco, I felt it necessary to try some gelato in the so-italian-it-hurts North Beach. It's touristy, but it's fun. I also love Stella Pastry there, by the way.

So after consulting the best source for fast information (um, twitter), I learned that Gelato Classico was the place to hit. So after touring Tcho, I strolled on over for some gelato.

I chose a scoop of the crème brulee paired with the dark chocolate. I'll tell the truth, with flavors like tiramisu, chocolate-hazelnut, a good-looking vanilla bean, and many others, it was not an easy thing to decide. But here's the happy thing: It was a good decision.

I strolled my gelato over to the park, where every single person around me proceeded to say “Omigod where did you get that?”. I think I may have single-handedly caused a big rush at the gelato place in this way, because it really was a sunny and perfect type of day for a chilled treat.

Gelato Classico, San Francisco

The caramel-vanilla crème brulee flavor didn't have the toastiness of crème brulee, tasting more like a caramel-vanilla, but that was just fine with me, because this is a good flavor combination. The dark chocolate was delightfully rich, but not so fudge-like that it left a slick on my teeth. The gelato was solidly good, but it was the experience of strolling with it in North Beach that truly made it magic.

Gelato Classico, 576 Union Street. More info here.

Gelato Classico Italian on Urbanspoon

Gelat-o-Clock: Homemade Dulce de Leche Gelato Recipe

Dulce de leche gelato

There might be something better than homemade Dulce de Leche gelato.

But, you know, nothing is coming to mind just at the moment.

But I'm willing to wager a little bet.

My proposal? You spend a little while (or a long while, if you feel like making your own dulce de leche) making a list of things that are really delicious and might possibly be more delicious.

Dulce de Leche Gelato

Then, you taste the gelato. If this gelato were a person, it would be the absolute suavest of Italian playboys. It's just so smooth and gooooooood. It's creamy. It's sweet with just a little-baby-taste of salt. Like, just enough to keep you licking the spoon clean before the next spoonful. It's a master of keeping you coming back for more.

And I'm betting that after you taste it, you'll be hooked. And you, like me, might be at a loss for what could possibly be better. Well, except for pairing it with this cake.

Here's the recipe. If you feel like using store-bought dulce de leche, like I did, make sure you buy some of the good stuff and then just skip to step 3.

Dulce de leche Gelato

Recipe courtesy Emeril

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (or purchased prepared dulce de leche)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 pints heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Fill a large pot 3/4-full with water. Place the unopened can of condensed milk in the water, making sure it is covered completely, and carefully bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours, adding more water as necessary. Remove from the heat and let sit until completely cool. Watch the can carefully to make sure it does not start to bulge. If the can does begin to bulge, remove from the heat and let cool. Once cool, punch a small hole in the top of the can, return to the heat, and continue cooking. Although this is a traditional way to make this recipe, we suggest using the method below as a safe alternative to cooking an unopened can of condensed milk.
  2. Pour the condensed milk into the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. Cook, stirring every 5 minutes, until a caramel color is achieved, about 2 to 3 hours. Or, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Pour the condensed milk into a baking dish and cover with foil. Place the pan in a larger pan. Fill the larger pan with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish with the condensed milk. Bake until caramelized, about 2 hours.
  3. In a clean saucepan, combine the brown sugar and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  4. In a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water, whisk together the warm syrup and egg yolks. Whisk constantly until the mixture is a thick, pale yellow and reaches the ribbon stage. Remove the bowl from the heat, and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until cool. Whisk in the condensed milk, heavy cream, vanilla and salt. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean container. Cover with plastic, pressing down onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.
  5. Transfer to the bowl of an ice cream machine and process according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.


Gimme S'more: S'more Gelato Sandwiches by Ciao Bella Gelato

As I have mentioned, I've been pretty obsessed with gelato as of late. And while I'm not boarding a plane to indulge in a Gelato Diet in Italy (yet), recently, some sweet treats (packed in dry ice, natch!) hopped a plane right to my house, directly from Ciao Bella Gelato.

Having visited their San Francisco and New York locations, naturally I was excited to see these sweet treats arrive at my doorstep: a pack of sorbet pops, S'more Gelato, and Gelato S'more Sandwiches.

The winner of the batch, for me? The S'morewiches. Filled with rich, creamy belgian chocolate gelato swirled with marshmallow, these two graham wafers acted like bookends to the most delicious story. A story that you'll want to eat up til the end.

The S'more gelato was also delicious, the same stuff used as filling in the sandwiches, but, you know, easily eaten by the pint (wait, there's more than one serving in that?).

The sorbet pops were tasty, but I'll admit: I was wary of their 70-calorie packaging. It made me feel like I was eating health food.

They also sent me a copy of their book, The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto: Bold, Fresh Flavors to Make at Home. I haven't tried anything from it yet, but people: there is a recipe for a tricolor gelato cake in it. NOM!

But I'd absolutely buy the s'more gelato or the sandwiches again!

For more information or where to buy, visit the Ciao Bella website!

CakeSpy Undercover: Mio Gelato, Portland OR

Guess what guess what guess what?

I love gelato, and it loves me back. See picture above. Proof!

Most recently, I loved it at a place called Mio Gelato in Portland, OR.

I hadn't read up on this place before going to Portland; I simply happened to walk by their NW 23rd location, thought "Gelato, yum!" and walked right in. Some reviewers said that the service hadn't been friendly, but I found it to be rather prompt and sweet. 

The case was well-stocked with interesting flavors; I went for a scoop of what I am pretty sure I remember as Oro d'Oro (a vanilla egg custard flavor) and the vanilla-caramel.

The Oro d'oro was the clear star, extremely rich and creamy and given a nice little je ne sais quoi-type contrast from what tasted like bits of lemon zest. 

The caramel was also quite good, but it got better when the custardy flavor got melty and mingled with it a little.

All said and done? A deliciously sweet gelato experience. 

Mio Gelato, Portland; several locations, find 'em online here.

Mio Gelato Caffe Italiana on Urbanspoon

Gelat-O'Clock: Gelato from Procopio Gelateria, Seattle

I don't know if I have told you this in so many words, but I have been having a Gelato Awakening in recent months. I'd consider my visit to Via Dolce Gelato in Leavenworth the kickoff to this awakening; since then, I have been sampling the sweet and cold stuff at as many places as I can. I'm just in love with that tiny spoon, and find it the ideal strolling-while-eating food. 

And most recently, I tried Seattle's Procopio Gelateria.

The establishment, perched in the shadow of the Pike Place Market, is named for Procopio dei Coltelli, who is said to have opened the first gelateria in Paris in the 1600s, who may not have invented the stuff, but is credited with, you know, making it a "thing".

Well, clearly this appealed to my confectionery and sweets-history obsession, and the gelato, made using the same time-tested traditional methods, reflects a love and respect for the sweet treat's storied history.

I made the wise decision of pairing the seasonal Cherry gelato, which was creamy, pleasingly pink, and redolent of rich, deep cherry flavor, with the vanilla, which was flecked with vanilla beans and had a deep, rich vanilla flavor that worked like sweet love with the cherry. The consistency of the vanilla flavor was more to my liking, but when paired together, they worked beautifully.

The flavors couldn't have been more spot-on, and I look forward to trying more seasonal flavors at this sweet spot in downtown Seattle.

Procopio Gelateria, 1501 Western Ave., Ste 300, Seattle; online here.


CakeSpy Undercover: Gelato from Bottega Italiana, Seattle

This is what happiness looks like on a (rare) sunny day in Seattle. It is two scoops of gelato from Bottega Italiana in the Pike Place Market. It is (for me) generally devoured slowly, with a tiny spoon, while leaning against my car, which is illegally parked in the three-minute load zone just outside of this small establishment.

I have an answer prepared if a traffic cop ever comes up and busts me, by the way. It goes something like "the spoon is tiny, dude, this cannot be rushed." I'm pretty sure he or she would not give me a ticket, because this is very sound logic.

Of course, tiny spoon aside, there is another very valid reason why Bottega Italiana gelato ought not be rushed: the stuff is good.

Now, I say this with the slightest tinge of hesitation, because they also specialize in sorbetto, but in my opinion, we (as a human race of dessert lovers) ought not waste too much on sorbetto when gelato is on hand.

Sorbetto (gelato's fruit-based, generally fat-free cousin) is just fine when paired with gelato--for instance, a scoop of raspberry sorbetto with gianduja gelato, or a scoop of strawberry sorbetto paired with rich French Vanilla gelato--but on its own, it's vaguely virtuous and doesn't hold my personal attention for too long.

In my opinion, the real reason to visit the Bottega is the Panna Cotta ("cooked cream") gelato. It's unbelievably smooth, rich, and creamy, and is made even better with a second scoop of something equally rich and creamy--say, hazelnut or gianduja or--if they have it on the day in question--salted caramel gelato. What will happen is this: you will take a taste, you will let it melt on your tongue, you will close your eyes which are already rolling back inside of your skull a little bit, and then you will re-open your eyes to make sure you are getting a good sized scoop with that mini spoon, and you will repeat until your little flower-shaped cup is empty.

And if nobody is looking, you'll tilt that cup skyward so that you can sip the last melty bits when you're nearing the end.

Yup: that is indeed what happiness looks like, sweeties.

Bottega Italiana, various locations (go to the Market one, it's my favorite); online here.

Bottega Italiana on Urbanspoon

Sweet Chill: Gelatiamo, Downtown Seattle

Hello, Gelatiamo.

My name is CakeSpy, and I am going to talk about the experience of eating your delicious gelato for a few minutes.

For those who may not know Gelatiamo, it's in sort of an odd spot--downtown, on a block of 3rd avenue with a hub bus stop, and therefore, a lot of, shall we say, very interesting people watching. It's like a little pastry oasis surrounded by chain restaurants and mall-type stores.

But when you walk inside, you'll be so glad you did. There are rows and rows of pastries (including respectable cream puffs, which I have known and loved in the past), but because I have been suffering a recent gelato obsession, finally I visited at long last to try their signature product.

After looking at the rows and rows of delectably tempting flavors, I settled on a scoop of coconut, and a scoop of chocolate. Pretty normal, but good flavors to see what they were all about, I thought.

The coconut, for me, was the clear winner--coconutty and rich and creamy, with little flecks of coconut inside of the creamy gelato which offered a nice texture. The chocolate was pleasant, but I felt like it was a bit dull next to the coconut. Does this mean that I should have just paired my flavors better? Possibly. 

Overall, this was a highly pleasant if not earth-shattering gelato experience; I will most definitely be returning to try out more flavors to find my perfect match. 

Gelatiamo, 1400 Third Ave., Seattle; online here.

Gelatiamo on Urbanspoon

Sweet Chill: D'Ambrosio Gelateria, Seattle

Cue that sultry "At Last..." music...because finally, at last, I have sampled D'Ambrosio Gelateria in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood.

Why "at last"? Because it's been suggested by so many trusted people, including very notably my friend Miss Megan Seling, Whose Word on Sweets Must Always Be Trusted.

But it just hadn't happened. As Seattleites know, Capitol Hill to Ballard can be such a hike. Honestly. I've had people come to my store in Capitol Hill from Ballard, and say that they are "on a day trip". For real.

But as soon as I saw their flavor case, I knew I was in for a treat. With a gorgeous array of the classics and some exotics, there was plenty to choose from, including a tempting Tiramisu, Stracciatella (aka fancy chocolate chip) and even something called Bacio di Dama, "a woman's kiss" (I am not sure what the flavor was, but it had nuts. Lots of them.)

After much debate, I settled on a 2-scoop consisting of the caramel-fig, paired with the pistachio. 

Let's now talk about how delicious this pairing was. The caramel-fig was rich, creamy, and mellow, with the fig mixed in with little seedlets exploding in my mouth every now and again (joy). The pistachio was sweet but a little salty, which was a gorgeous pairing for that mellow caramel-fig. The entire package was extremely well executed too: the gelato was unbelievably creamy and infinitely savor-able.

I will confess that as it was a hot day and some of it melted, I looked both ways, tipped my cup back, and drank the last few spoonfuls like a greedy child. And I regret not a moment of it.

D'ambrosio Gelateria, 5339 Ballard Ave, Seattle; online here.

D'Ambrosio Gelato on Urbanspoon

Via Delicious: Via Dolce Gelato, Leavenworth, WA

Dear Twitter: I love you. Because when I say "I am going to this town, what bakeries should I visit?" I get many many great suggestions. I believe this is what they call "crowd sourcing". And when it comes to seeking out sugary sweets to eat, it rules.

And this is how I came to discover Via Dolce Gelato in Leavenworth, WA (thanks, Dalipardon). Now, one might not think that a traditional Italian treat would be the thing to seek out in a Bavarian village, but One Would Be Wrong.

Via Dolce is passionate about their art, with a website which will not only educate you, but will make you very hungry. But not as hungry as looking at their lovely chilled case, which contains a rainbow of possibilities. I kept it pretty beige, with a scoop of Toasted Almond and a second of Stracciatella.

What both scoops had in common was that they were both highly delicious, creamy and dreamy and yet somehow still light--they didn't linger thickly but rather kept you coming back for more (and made me wonder why gelato is served by the scoop rather than by the vat).

But the real standout was the Stracciatella (don't ask me to pronounce it, I tried to when ordering and then was corrected, and had been so wrong that I blushed). What does Stracciatella taste like, you ask? Well, it's kind of like meeting chocolate chip ice cream's relative from the Old Country, who does everything the old (and better) way. Made up of creamy vanilla speckled with shreds, rather than chips, of chocolate, and it is clearly the way to go--they melt as you go and don't have a distracting texture like chips. You can find a recipe for it here.

Via Dolce Gelato, Leavenworth, WA; online at