Just when we’d all given up on summer following the wettest April on record and a dull, cold and miserable May … the sun decided to make a comeback. And hey! What a comeback. The temperature has soared, the sky is blue with not a cloud in sight, and the garden has burst into a riot of colour. When the sun is hot and I want to take a break on a deckchair in the garden then there is no treat that pleases me as much as an affogato.
Regular readers of this blog will know of my coffee addiction; that I’ll walk an extra mile for a good coffee – as found at Taylor St Baristas in Richmond, or New Row Coffee in Covent Garden. If you read my posts from Rome in March, you’ll also know of my love of ice cream and how being in Rome means at least one gelato a day from one of the many fabulous gelaterias there. Therefore, it goes without saying that affogato is one thing The Single Gourmet Traveller can never resist: ice cream, literally ‘drowned’ (affogato) in coffee.
I first experienced – yes, one experiences good food and drink – affogato in Venice about twelve years ago. These were the days of family holidays and we were there with another family, enjoying lunch in the sun in a cafe in Campo Santo Stefano, near the Accademia Bridge. I can’t remember who first spied a succession of little dishes of vanilla ice cream, accompanied by espresso shots, being delivered to a number of tables, but the coffee lovers amongst us soon decided we had to join in. All I can say is that the marriage of a good strong espresso and good vanilla ice cream is one made in heaven – and where affogato is concerned, I’ve never looked back.
To put it together really couldn’t be simpler. But you do need some excellent coffee and some very good ice cream to get the best experience.
I still have coffee beans from the wonderful Caffe Sant’Eustachio that I bought in Rome, so I ground enough for one cup and got my espresso machine ready to be turned on.
I then put a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream into a glass cup, turned on the coffee machine and made my espresso. Now you want to bring the two components together quickly, but if you’re serving it to others, then allow them to pour the espresso over themselves when they’re ready to eat.
Gently pour the hot coffee over the cold ice cream. As you eat the ice cream, the coffee will melt it and the two gorgeous flavours combine to make a creamy, rich, ambrosial treat. This is perhaps the easiest dessert imaginable, yet it is also one of the most wonderful.