December in Chicago. Perfect time for some ice cream, right? Absolutely! Especially when the creamery in question is as creative as Black Dog Gelato. A few months ago I went to this establishment with my lovely girlfriend after a long day of listening and sampling some delicious treats as a lucky participant in the Taste Talks Convention in Chicago. It was the perfect compliment to the savory tour de force that is Green Street Smoked Meats.
As I previously mentioned, we managed to score tickets to Taste Talks, and one of the meetings we went to was all about the future of ice cream. Who was there? Jenny Oloroso, the owner and founder of Black Dog Gelato. We learned so much from her like how much care, creativity, and gastronomic chemistry goes into creating quality gelato from scratch. What this means for the consumer is they get to enjoy a light but ultra-rich product that is churned out in limited size batches each day which is how Black Dog Gelato is operated. Once they run out of a flavor, tough luck! However, with flavors such as white chocolate banana curry, cucumber rosewater sorbet, and sesame fig chocolate chip, get in quick to get the pick of the litter. When we arrived, it wasn’t too hopping in the middle of the cold and rainy afternoon. The warm interior beckoned us to peruse the selection in front of us in the glass case and pick some winners. Janice got a cup of goat cheese cashew caramel and butterscotch bourbon pecan while I got a cup of Mexican hot chocolate and maple cayenne bacon ($4.50 approximately each).
All of it tasted like a million bucks though. The goat cheese cashew caramel was an interesting blend that was quite enjoyable even though one would think that the strong flavor profile of the goat cheese would overwhelm the other elements. On the contrary, it was tempered by the sweet caramel and salty cashews to form the perfect blend of savory and sweet. As for the butterscotch bourbon pecan, it was a lot less crazy than the first entry since it tasted like a more decadent butter pecan with a slightly boozy kick with each spoonful. Janice loves her bourbon, so she was in heaven. I was satisfied with it as well. Then there were my crazy gelati. The Mexican hot chocolate was your typical chocolate ice cream; a chocolate ice cream that also happened to be full of chili pepper. It was exactly what I wanted. This homage to its Aztec forefathers was both sweet with a slightly spicy kick that slowly but surely engulfed my tongue with a smoldering, but not overwhelming, kiss. As for the maple cayenne bacon gelato, it wasn’t as good as the ones Janice picked or the Mexican hot chocolate. True, I could taste each individual ingredient like the sweet maple syrup or the fiery cayenne, whose sibling I had already visited in the hot chocolate, but the bacon proved to be this selection’s undoing. I’ve always loved bacon (tooting my meat product hipster horn) before the entire bacon craze hit the nation, but this gelato was an example of the fine line between madness and genius leaning towards the former. The bacon was hogging the spotlight and left a greasy residue in my mouth. Not a good look. This didn’t sour my experience overall though.
Overall, I’d recommend Black Dog Gelato due to its high quality gelato and creative cornucopia of flavors for a reasonable price.