Friday, June 29, 2007


On Marques de Pombal Square is a shop called “Buffet de Gelato”. Ian asked me several times before we left Italy if there was gelato in Portugal, and I said yes, although I couldn't remember for sure if or where I'd seen it. The Ola ice cream sign is everywhere, so you can always get a Magnum bar (the best is Triple Chocolate, which has chocolate ice cream surrounded by chocolate fudge and then a chocolate shell on that . . . although, come to think of it, Caramel, with caramel ice cream and a caramel layer instead of the fudge, is also pretty good) or a Solero bar, which is sorbet around vanilla ice cream (and popular with my mother, whose favorite old-time frozen treat is the Creamsickle). Anyway, I figured even if we couldn't find gelato, per se, we'd have plenty of options for frozen treats.

But, I was pleased to be proven to be not a liar the first afternoon when we walked into Porto Covo and saw the Buffet de Gelato sign. Nevertheless, it was several days before we made it back to town at an appropriate time for ice cream (you see, it's a lot colder here than it was in Italy, so not every time is, in fact, ice cream time.).

Last night, we arrived in the square and realized that our favorite internet bench was directly in the path of the golden setting sun. Furthermore, Buffet de Gelato was open; we saw a family enter as we approached. Also, it was close enough to our bench that we thought maybe the WiFi would work on its patio (it didn't).
So we walked in, and it turns out that Buffet de Gelato means just that—it's a BUFFET of GELATO. Herein lies the danger.

Everything in Buffet de Gelato is self-serve. Of the, oh, 2 dozen or so flavors available, I think we tried 7 between us (small balls! small balls!). I had chocolato, After Eight, and amendoa. Ian had melone, pistachio, doce de arroz (sweet of rice), and something Iglesia, or Ingles, or something like that (meaning either “church”, or “English”), which tasted like spumoni (I liked it; he didn't). There were also several syrups, including forest fruits, coconut sweet, apple sweet, cherry, strawberry, mango, lemon, mint, and probably some others; and other toppings, including jimmies and chocolate flakes and a variety of pralines (cashew, almond, pine nut, walnut, hazelnut), and then hot syrups too, like chocolate and caramel and whatnot (by the time we got to the hot toppings we were suffering from a bit of overload).

I have no idea what toppings Ian used, because it was all I could do to focus on my own. But I had coconut sweet, a candied cherry (which tasted bitter it was so chock full of chemicals), praline almonds, some cherry syrup which was deliciously full of crushed cherries, some hot chocolate sauce, and some mint syrup. The mint syrup was where the system broke down for me—where having all that choice, and all that self-determination became a bit of a problem. I have no idea what it was made of, but it was viscous and clear and turquoise and looked (and tasted, a little) like I'd put mouthwash on my ice cream. But fortunately I didn't use much, and everything else was dangerously tasty.

It's a good thing the ice cream place closes before sunset, because using the internet looking directly into the sun didn't work very well for us and so tonight we've come back too late for the Buffet de Gelato.

PS—Ian points out that his last gelato in Amalfi was Limoncello, which is almost lemone, but better because there's booze in it.

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