I like ice cream. A lot. But, if this isn’t too paradoxical, I rarely find ice cream I like.
In London, I’m lucky enough to live near the magnificent Gelateria Danieli in Richmond, where the proprietors make 24 flavours in the upstairs room of their tiny shop. It’s as good as any gelato I have eaten in Italy, the US or Australia. A sugared cone of Danieli’s, eaten a few metres away on Richmond Green or packed to take home in a polystyrene box, should be enough to satisfy any ice-cream lover.
But now I have discovered what I think is the best gelato anywhere on the planet – in Stockholm, of all places. I’m not sure why a predominantly cold country shouldn’t excel at ice cream, but it does seem counterintuitive.
My friend, who lives in the slightly Brooklyn-like – ex-industrial, now gentrified – district of Kungsholmen, took me there. Fryst, on Kungsholms Strand, right on the pretty waterfront, has a cool, understated exterior – but in Sweden that doesn’t count for a lot as designwise almost everything is cool and understated.
“Oh, the line isn’t too bad today,” said Marie. There were 30 people patiently queuing – a mere 15 minutes’ wait. The second time I went on the same weekend (and, yes, there was a third too) it took 45 minutes to reach the counter of the tiny store.
Fryst – run by Rehné Falkarp and her son Kim-Benjamin – offers 12 flavours of ice cream (from SKr40, about £3.45, for a one-scoop cone). Falkarp has daily fruit deliveries so she can decide whatever she thinks might work for the following day. So as you are queuing for, say, today’s Swedish strawberry or coffee and cardamom, you will see a preview of tomorrow’s selection in the boxes of fresh fruit – rhubarb, raspberries, whatever – piled up for the following morning’s production run.
My choice on the first visit was liquorice, which Scandinavia fans will know is an obsession in these parts. It left me speechless – my friend thought there was something wrong with me at first. It was such an unexpected hit of intense flavour that I couldn’t find the words even to enthuse over it. I later asked Falkarp how she makes it. “It’s a milk, cream and sugar base and then I fold in a sauce made from liquorice root and Atlantic sea salt,” she explained. “For the topping, I make a sweet liquorice sauce. It means you get both sensations at the same time.” It most certainly does.
Fryst has been open since 2013. Falkarp trained as a baker and pâtissier, but ice cream has always been her passion. You can tell.