Category: Food & Wine Talk WSFG
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Over three days in Piazza Fellini in Rimini, Italy, mounting tension, expectations and, needless to say, a few extra pounds swelled the crowds as 24 gelato artisans – the top three winners from the eight leg tour culminating in Rimini – made over 14,500 lbs of their best gelato and sold over 70,000 cups and cones to over 70,000 gelato lovers.
The commotion at the tents set for the show, the din of tongue clicking, sighs of contentment and interjections of appreciation over each flavor amped up until Sunday evening at the Grand Finale of the Gelato World Tour when the finalists deserted their post to present  his/her own single best flavor before an imposing assembly of judges gathered to rule which of the 24 would win the title of World´s Best Gelato.
After three days of sampling perfectly churned gelatos from 24 artisanal gelato makers from around the world – a amazing feat of talent and logistics considering the hot weather –  interspersed with cooking classes and visits to the historic town of Rimini – where Julius Caesar pronounced the fateful “ The die is cast” before crossing the Rubicon a few kilometers north west of Rimini –,  to the grand Rimini Fiera Convention Center – a sprawling green architectural palace –, and the Carpigiani Gelato University and Gelato Museum in Bologna,   we were ready to join the other judges at the Grand Final of the Gelato World Tour.
Italian and international Gelato masters, renowned experts   – the  technical judges votes counted for 45% –, food writers and journalists from top Italian and international print and broadcast media  – votes counted for 25%, solemnly tasted.  analyzed  and graded each entry.  Outside, the people's choice counted for 25% and the peers votes counted for 5%.
Judging gelato is fun but not easy. Every entry using the best-possible artisanal ingredients tasted great. Each bite packed a wallop of sensory stimulation, a celebration of the primary ingredient undisguised by additives or cloying, heavy ingredients that mask the original flavor.
And… First Prize went to   “Almond Affogato” made by Gelato Artisans John & Sam Crowl (Cow and the Moon, Sydney, Australia).  The flavor base was a vanilla bean gelato with roasted caramelized coffee almonds folded throughout with strong Kenyan coffee and swirled with salted caramel sauce.
2nd Place went to flavor “Grumpy Heart” made by Gelato Artisan Francesco Mastroianni (Il Cantagallo, Lamezia Terme, Italy) with pistachios from Sicily  and 3rd Place went  to “Hazelnut Heart” made by Gelato Artisan Alessandro Lancierini (Gelateria Fiore, Suzzara, Italy) with fresh Italian hazelnuts.
Miami's own Stefano Versace, who placed 2nd during the American Leg of the Gelato World Tour in Austin, Texas, won honorable mention in the People's Choice Award for the flavor The Scent of Sicily. A delicious reconstruction of the Sicilian cannoli with  fresh organic ricotta cheese, organic almonds, pistachio from Sicily, candied fruit, lightly flavored with a touch of organic blood orange and Sicilian lemon zest, all swirled with creamy caramel.
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Listen to Director of The Gelato World Tour Achille Sassoli’s plans for the next World Tours starting in January, 2015.