About Time: You Discovered the Story of Grom GelatoBy Katrina Mirpuri
“It’s not ice cream”, says Federico Grom after I use the wrong terminology for the product. With a proud smile on his face he corrects me, “It’s gelato”.
I vaguely understood the difference between ice cream and gelato however, after tasting Grom I came to realise why Federico needed to correct me: the difference is drastic. Gelato is ice cream’s more mature, dense, handsome Italian cousin; the kind you fall in love with and don’t want to share. With a punch of natural flavour in every bite, Grom thrives from its simplicity unlike many other commercial gelato brands which deceive tastebuds with sweeteners and artificial flavourings.
In order to fully understand the secret to Grom’s success, I took a trip to its birthplace in Turin, Italy to learn exactly how Grom went from an idea between two friends to opening its 8th international shop in the heart of London’s thriving Piccadilly Circus.
Grom Gelato: Humble Beginnings
When talking to founders Federico Grom and Guido Martinetti, there’s a sense of humble achievement when they reminisce about their beginnings in 2002. “We didn’t know a thing about how to make gelato”, they claimed whilst chuckling in unison.
“I try and put elegance in the gelato. Arrogance ruins it, but it’s the harmony of pure ingredients and elegance that compliments it so much” tells Guido, the farmer and creative brains behind Grom. With a background in winemaking, Guido developed an obsession with finding the perfect ingredients to use. After selecting raw materials from across Italy for 5 years, 2007 was pivotal in Grom’s evolution as the duo purchased their own farm named Mura Mura, providing Guido with enough land to grow and experiment with his own ingredients.
Grom Gelato: The Farm
My visit to the Mura Mura farm made me realise that Guido was a mad fruity scientist. His obsessive control over the crop meant he had full control over the harvest, and this is where Federico steps back. Everything was done to perfection even down to the earth (which contains heaps of some very expensive manure to maintain organic soil).
“It’s good stuff”, says Guido as he defends the action of buying pricey manure. Each fruit variety is rigorously tried and tested before the green light is given to be used for the gelato. It’s this quality, seasonal growth that makes the flavours superior to other products. Guido’s patience and fantastic palette are one of the main reasons why Grom’s sorbets are especially zingy and unique.
Grom Gelato: The Factory
It’s hard to imagine how something so simple can be turned into something so delicious – and so Federico took me to the factory for a behind the scenes understanding. As we walked around he pointed out specialist machinery used for washing, peeling and deseeding the different fruits, and some of the equipment was state-of-the-art for particular fruits such as melons and lemons.
The amount of high tech machinery gave an idea of how much product they were creating for their stores and shops. As we pass the fruit mixer, Federico gives me a sample of the raspberry sorbet mix before it’s frozen – consisting of just fruit, sugar and water. It’s sweet and sour fusion made for a strong but delicious treat – one that would do well when mixed with something alcoholic. The beauty of Grom’s sorbet is its high percentage of fruit content in the product, meaning a scoop of it works as the perfect accompaniment as a mixer or in a cocktail.
The idea of a high fruit content in the sorbet comes from the duo wanting to make the product healthy and safe for children to eat. As the machines freeze and package the individual lollies, I grab a lolly in its final form to taste. The freshness from the sorbet mix is captured perfectly when frozen and the texture is much like eating real fruit, and a handful of seeds are present in each bite.
In order to retain the flavour, the liquid gelato and sorbet mixes are sealed into airtight pouches in the factory and shipped to stores to be frozen into gelato. This is a unique process which guarantees the gelato tastes just like it does in its hometown of Turin.
Grom Gelato: The Shop
A visit to their newly opened shop in London is a very familiar feeling. The packets of gelato mix hang on show in a display and the staff are as excited about the gelato as the customers. Grom’s mixing cylinders are installed in each shop; one for each flavour, meaning the mixtures are transferred from the airtight bag into the cylinder and turned into gelato within 10 minutes. The process means the gelato is made at a steady pace whilst being constantly churned giving it that dense richness we all love.
A gelato counter with signature flavours is the centrepiece of the shop, and takeaway tubs of Grom fill the fridge like a rainbow display whilst bakery goods, jams and nutty spreads sit proudly on the shelves. Grom breaks the misconception that gelato needs dairy with their popular double chocolate flavour which has become a favourite amongst vegans and hardcore chocolate lovers. Take a trip to the shop, and taste the real romance of Italy.
18 Piccadilly, London W1J 0DF
For more information on Grom Gelato – see the website here.