Where to find the most tantalising ice cream on your travels this summer

Make summer holidays even sweeter with a visit to one of these world-class purveyors

North London’s Ruby Violet offers a panoply of grown-up (and a few deliciously childish) flavours
North London’s Ruby Violet offers a panoply of grown-up (and a few deliciously childish) flavours | Image: Danielle Wood

LONDON Ruby Violet’s irresistible ice creams (from £3 for a 100ml scoop) come in a panoply of grown-up (and a few deliciously childish) flavours that change by the week, giving one a good excuse to return on a regular basis to one of its little parlours in north London. Flavours of the day might include elderflower and prosecco sorbet, Earl Grey ice cream or even a horseradish variety. They’re so good, I’ve virtually given up making puddings – I’ve rounded off a dinner by serving a smorgasbord of fragrant lemon & basil, a tart rhubarb & verjuice and an aromatic ice cream made with local honey. Oh, and a little tub of rosewater and peach sorbet. And a Campari and blood orange too. If sticking a few tubs (however pretty) on the table feels a bit infra dig, Ruby Violet also does tantalising ice-cream bombes (from £45), layer cakes (from £35) and tartlets (from £22 for four), as well as ice cream-filled petits fours in all sorts of shapes, from chrysanthemums (£3.50 each, in multiples of 10) to lollies (from £3 each, minimum order of 12). The shop is tiny – no place to hang about – but for indulgence at home, or an epicurean pit stop after dinner (it’s open until 10pm Tuesday to Sunday), it is pure delight. Ruby Violet, 118 Fortress Road, London NW5 (020-7609 0444) and Midland Goods Shed, 3 Wharf Road, London N1; rubyviolet.co.ukALICE LASCELLES

The Barcelona branch of wild and wacky parlour Rocambolesc
The Barcelona branch of wild and wacky parlour Rocambolesc
Advertisement

GIRONA, MADRID, ALICANTE AND BARCELONA A waiting list gets in the way of dining at the world-famous El Celler de Can Roca in Girona – but in the meantime, one can taste its fabled gelato creations at pastry chef Jordi Roca’s Spanish ice-cream parlours. Rocambolesc means fabulous, incredible and wacky à la Willy Wonka – with a nod to the Roca family name – and it doesn’t disappoint: the branches in Girona, Barcelona, Alicante and Madrid are bursting with swashbuckling, improbable flavours. The adventure starts with a base gelato (from €2.90), drawn from four ice creams and two sorbets. Chocolate and vanilla are present all year round; autumn brings baked apple, pumpkin and mandarin; while summer sorbet flavours include lemon and green apple with basil, and mango with lavender. Next, an artist’s palette of toppings: toasted nuts, sugared sesame seeds, fruity “bambolas”, popping candy, flowers, stars, brownies and shortbread. The contrast of the sharp, lactic yoghurt ice with dulce de leche, guayaba sauce and toasted chopped almonds toppings is terrific, but it’s the rich, dark and brooding chocolate, showered with cocoa nibs, cookie cubes and popping candy, that takes the biscuit. Carrer de Santa Clara 50, Girona (rocambolesc.com); branches also in Barcelona, Alicante and Madrid. SUE STYLE 

Famous old gelateria Vivoli is sited near the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence
Famous old gelateria Vivoli is sited near the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence
At Carapina in Florence, 16 flavours are on offer, each made in small batches daily
At Carapina in Florence, 16 flavours are on offer, each made in small batches daily

FLORENCE The excellence of Italy’s ice-cream parlours perhaps explains why desserts in its restaurants are invariably uninspired. Vivoli, the famous old gelateria near the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence, was my favourite haunt for many years, the perfect postprandial stop where one can – in that thoroughly civilised Italian way – enjoy an ice cream, a coffee and a digestivo without leaving the bar: you might also shout at the football, send a postcard or win the lottery. It is to the artisanal Carapina, however, that the gelato cognoscenti now flock. A total of 16 flavours are on offer, each made in small batches daily: try the smooth, rich, aromatic vin santo or the deep, earthy, not-too-sweet dark chocolate. Fruit-based ice creams are strictly seasonal: there are no frozen purées here. Carapina, 2R Piazza Guglielmo Oberdan, 50136 Florence (+3905-567 6930; carapina.it). Il Gelato Vivoli, 7R Via dell’ Isola delle Stinche, 50122 Florence (+3905-529 2334; vivoli.it). BILL KNOTT

On any day at Berthillon, Paris, two dozen or more varieties of ice cream will be scrawled on the board
On any day at Berthillon, Paris, two dozen or more varieties of ice cream will be scrawled on the board
Jelberts is tucked away in the Cornish fishing village of Newlyn
Jelberts is tucked away in the Cornish fishing village of Newlyn

PARIS Whenever I’m in Paris, it’s time for ice cream. In my humble opinion, the best gelato in Europe isn’t from Italy – it’s sold by the centuries-old glacière Berthillon on the Ile St Louis behind Notre Dame. At one time, it was sold only on this waterlogged scrap of land, but Berthillon products are now available at spots across Paris. Any restaurant on the Ile St Louis should offer a couple of its flavours, but for the best selection hike to Berthillon’s HQ: at this café, on any day, two dozen or more varieties will be scrawled on the board – when they’re there, I always choose the groseille (redcurrant) and cerise (cherry). The decor inside is unprepossessing, so rather than linger over a sundae, I take a groaning, overloaded cone (from €3) and wander round the bucolic back streets of the Ile St Louis, relishing the taste of summer. 29-31 Rue St Louis en l’Ile, Paris 75004 (+331-4354 3161; berthillon.fr). MARK ELLWOOD

Advertisement

CORNWALL Go along the main road into the Cornish fishing village of Newlyn on any summer day and you’ll see a queue snaking into an unremarkable shop with a black and white sun awning. The people queueing look worried, whereas those who emerge from Jelberts are triumphant as they clutch their cornets. There is no better ice cream on the planet. As the stuff that others sell has become more and more fake and fluffy, Jelberts has become better and better (while remaining the same). Cream and milk, not a lot else, in one flavour only, made just up the hill from the harbour, a few drums carted down to the shop just over the bridge and when they’re sold, that’s it for the day, which explains the worried looks. Have a couple of scoops in a tub, with Rodda’s clotted cream, preferably with the crust, and a Flake. And if the greengrocer over the road is open, squash in a few ripe raspberries to add sharp sweetness to the fudge-like creamy ice. Jelberts Ices, New Road, Newlyn, Cornwall TR18 5PZ (jelberts.blogspot.com). ANNA-MARIE SOLOWIJ

Advertisement
Loading