ROBERT ST. JOHN: Newly discovered sweet treat is evil in the freezer



“It’s all about how you finish.”

That’s the “coach speak” you’ll hear at almost any post-game press conference. It’s also the advice a friend gave me when I first started delivering keynote and after-dinner speeches.

In the foodservice world how one finishes is the top slice of the how-to-make-a-good-impression sandwich. The initial greeting is the bottom slice. Both – along with what is done in between – are important Many consider chocolate to be their favorite dessert. Not me. I typically like to finish with fruit – something light, not too heavy, and just a little tart.

My maternal grandmother loved sherbet. As long as I knew her, she always had a gallon of pineapple sherbet in her freezer. In the South Mississippi of the 1960s that was exotic, and perfect for me – a fruit finish plus ice cream. I grew up loving pineapple sherbet, but in my adult years ice cream hasn’t been a concern.

I know a lot of people who describe their greatest culinary weakness and dietary stumbling block as ice cream. Not me. I have no problem passing an ice cream parlor. We rarely keep ice cream in our freezer and it’s never been something I have craved – until now.

Disclaimer: The following sentences I am about to write should be read with extreme caution. By reading further, you agree to hold the author of this column completely harmless in any future addiction or weight-gain problems you might encounter. If you were smart you would stop reading and turn to the sports section. Do it now. You still have time to save your life (and your waistline). Read on at your own risk. Remember, I warned you.

I attach personality to food. Some foods are boring (oatmeal), others are happy (pancakes), some foods are serious (steak) and other foods are stuffy (anything made with foam, puff pastry or caviar). Some foods are just evil. I’m not talking about Disney-villain evil. I’m not talking about some scary guy hiding in a back alley evil, and I’m not talking about movie monster evil. That’s child’s play when it comes to the evil food I’m about to describe. This stuff is to-the-core wicked, sinful even. It’s food that is so good it should be against the law. Food that you would consider skipping your honeymoon to eat.

I can describe this pure evil with one word: Talenti. What is Talenti you ask? It’s a brand of gelato and it is evil incarnate. More specifically, Sea Salt Caramel Talenti gelato.

Again, I have never been much of an ice cream person. I fell in love with gelato during my stints in Italy. But even some gelato over there is mediocre at best. I know one spot in Bologna on Via Dell Independenza just a few blocks from the Plaza Mayor, where there is a small sidewalk kiosk tucked under the historic colonnades that makes the best gelato in all of Italy. Yet, as good as that is, it’s not better that Talenti Sea Salt Caramel Gelato that can be purchased locally.

It is so good I am not going to tell you my local source for buying it for fear the store will run out and there won’t be enough for me. Actually, I stocked up on it earlier this morning just in case you do figure it out. Now the freezer in my home, previously void of any ice cream-type products, has nine containers of Talenti Sea Salt caramel gelato in it. I have become a gelato hoarder.

If the devil makes ice cream, this is what it tastes like. My friend Wyatt says, “Gelato is what ice cream wants to be when it grows up.” Gelato is denser than ice cream, but at the same time it’s lighter. Ice cream is made with cream and eggs and is churned faster which incorporates air and increases volume. Gelato is made with milk, usually doesn’t have eggs, and is churned slowly – incorporating less air, and – making the flavors more concentrated.

Gelato has less fat than ice cream; therefore it should be stored on the health-food aisle. But it’s not.

The amazing thing about Talenti is it was started – not by an Italian, but – by a guy from Dallas. Even more remarkable is that he fell in love with gelato – not in Italy, but in Argentina. A moment of silence, please, while we all give thanks for Josh Hochschuler.

You can keep Ben and Jerry from Vermont. Give me Josh from Dallas. I am going to have to join a 12-step recovery program for Talenti Sea Salt Caramel (but not if it means I will have to give it up). I am a Talentiholic. I am powerless over their gelato and my dessert eating has become unmanageable.

Robert St. John is a restaurateur, chef and author of numerous books.

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