October 14, 2016
A scoop of Italy
Sandra Foti spent many days of her childhood making and eating gelato with her family at their home in Boroondara. Today, she shares her authentic Italian gelato with the whole neighbourhood at Piccolina Gelateria on Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn.
“I grew up seeing and being around the traditional gelato-making process, although as a child I don't think I understood how special that is,” says Sandra.
“I learnt how to balance gelato flavours from my father. To choose an ingredient and work out the fat content in that ingredient and then balance out the milk and cream and sugar based on those ingredients is a process that requires quite a lot of skill.”
Together Sandra’s family would pasturise the components of their gelato and wait for them to be churned in a large, commercial gelato maker.
“As children we would impatiently crowd around the machine, waiting to scoop out the last bit of gelato before dad cleaned it,” Sandra recalls fondly.
Yet, it was only after working in the design industry for more than a decade that Sandra began to look for a new challenge and Piccolina Gelateria was born.
Not too far from her Melbourne home, Piccolina Gelateria has quickly become a favourite with the locals.
“Everybody has just embraced the concept of what we do and the work we put in to each flavour. I think they love the fact that I am a local. They have all become like friends. I know that it sounds cheesy but, it is true,” says Sandra.
The secret, she believes, is in the Piccolina Gelateria philosophy. Every bite is filled with seasonal, local produce.
“Our gelato is 100% natural. If an ingredient has a number attached to it, we don’t use it.”
Few establishments go to the effort of Piccolina Gelateria founder, Sandra Foti, to produce the perfect scoop of gelato. Every element of her gelato flavours are made in-store - from nut butters and roasted nuts to the cookies in a scoop of cookies and cream gelato.
Unafraid to take a risk, Piccolina Gelateria only offers seasonal flavours. If the local produce is not good enough to use then the flavour doesn't make it to the counter. This can include some crowd favourites, namely, strawberry sorbet.
“Only using seasonal produce gives our customers something to look forward to and appreciate. When mango sorbet is on the menu, it feels like summer!” says Sandra.
As for Sandra's favourites, she says it's hard to pick just one.
“At the moment we have a beautiful chocolate and candied orange flavour in-store. Blood oranges are in season so we have blood orange sorbet that I really love. Also the salted caramel is incredible, and the pistachio is very popular.”
For Sandra, making gelato is still a very much a family affair. Her cousin has recently moved over from the south of Italy, just to help out at Piccolina Gelateria.
"It has been really good to have that family support," she says.