Here’s the Scoop

Gelato and Sorbet

gelato

by Shannon Essa

Photography by Erin Feinblatt

I am in Paris. My windows look over the rooftops of the fourth arrondissement, and outside my door there are the most heavenly pastries and other delicious things to eat: French macarons. Crepes with chocolate melted all over them. But what am I thinking about? I am thinking about the green apple sorbet from Here’s the Scoop in Montecito and owners Bob and Ellie Patterson, who gave me the opportunity to work in the store for a few days.

I have been experimenting with homemade ice cream, gelato and sorbet for several years now, so I was absolutely thrilled to be able to learn to make large quantities of gelato and sorbet. What is better than eating a big bowl of gelato? Making a giant tub of it, that’s what.

Bob and Ellie like to give back to their community, and besides the various events put on for the youngsters of Santa Barbara in their store, they also buy much of the produce for their gelato and sorbet from local farmers.

Since they opened Here’s the Scoop seven years ago, they have been fixtures at the farmers markets in town. Strawberries come from Tom Shepherd, blood oranges from Somers Ranch. Almost all their fruit flavors are seasonal.

Ellie is constantly trying out new flavors, like the cherimoya, sourced from local cherimoya trees. Before I tried this gelato, I had never had cherimoya before; a fruit native to South America, the flavor reminded me of those Wacky Wafer candies I ate when I was a kid. They taste exotic, yet familiar. Also, making sorbet out of them is not so easy.

BobEllie

Ellie and Bob do not take the easy way out on their fruit flavors. They could easily buy strawberry syrup to make their strawberry gelato instead of husking hundreds of strawberries (the staff’s least favorite job). They could buy canned pumpkin instead of roasting baby pumpkins and scooping out the meat, or they could forego the cherimoya completely. To get the amount of fruit purée they need, the cherimoya is cut in half then pushed through a strainer to get all the seeds out. There are a LOT of seeds and there is a lot of pushing. For those who think the price of quality gelato is a bit high, let me be the first to tell you there are reasons for that: the cost of good local ingredients and the cost of labor—sometimes intensive labor.

Ellie has always loved the farmers market—and that is part of the reason she, Bob and their daughter Alex ended up living in Montecito. Both Bob and Ellie grew up in Rhode Island, but met in the San Fernando Valley in the 1980s while working for the same high-tech company—Bob in operations, Ellie in both purchasing and sales and marketing. They often visited Santa Barbara and its farmers markets, as they had purchased a townhouse in Santa Barbara for their weekends. Eventually the pull of the beauty and small-town feeling of Santa Barbara—not to mention the Northridge earthquake of 1994—was too much to resist, and the family relocated permanently to Santa Barbara in 1995. When the idea of a gelato shop entered their orbit, it was not the idea of Bob and Ellie, it was Alex’s idea. But it was Ellie and Bob who went to Italy to study the ins and outs of gelato production and to research the equipment. And Alex? She ended up with a job in the process, and started working in the shop when she was just 14.

Sorbets made at Here’s the Scoop have no dairy—it is just the fruit, sugar and water. The gelato is made with milk and cream, but no eggs. (Except the French vanilla—it is the only gelato made with eggs.) The ingredients are weighed and then blended with a giant immersion blender. Then they are poured into one of my favorite pieces of machinery of all time: a professional gelato maker manufactured by Technogel in northern Italy. This gorgeous, also very large, machine churns and freezes one batch of gelato every eight minutes, which is how Here’s the Scoop can make their flavors fresh daily.

On one of the days that I was working there, we made several types of sorbet and gelato. The green apple (that would be the one I am dreaming about now) was the first kind I made. Apples are chopped and blended with local organic apple juice and sugar, then poured into the machine. It is truly amazing there is no dairy in this sorbet. It is so creamy and delicious it seems full of fat. Instead, it is a great way to get your kid to eat fruit. Then we moved onto one of the store favorites—s’mores. This favorite of local children has chocolate gelato layered with crumbled graham crackers, chopped Hershey’s bars and marshmallows.

Other flavors may be more interesting to adults. Lavender Lemon is one that appeals intensely to some. “We initially only made this flavor from Mother’s Day till Labor Day, but last year customers started asking if they could sign the petition,” Ellie tells me. “When I asked what petition, they said that they wanted that flavor to be a permanent year-around flavor. We, of course, complied with their request.”

Indian rice pudding—a gelato with rice, cardamom, dried papaya, mango and almonds—is a flavor that Ellie thought up in the middle of the night one night, and it is now a popular flavor. Even daughter Alex gets in on the act with new gelato ideas—the Savannah Honey & Almond (using local honey from San Marcos Farms) is all hers, as is the s’mores flavor mentioned above. Ellie and Bob also experiment with wine flavors for local wine festivals and events. They’ve added sparkling wine to the Lavender Lemon and made a Merlot and blackberry sorbet using Buttonwood Merlot, among many others. This is one of the best parts of the job for Ellie—tasting, or thinking, about something delicious and then making a gelato or sorbet out of it.

Of course, in the summer the fruit flavors, such as peach, pluot and watermelon, sing—if not scream. What could be better than ripe, local summer fruit blended into an icy, refreshing concoction on a sunny afternoon? “It is fun and exciting to follow the growing seasons of fruits in making our sorbets,” says Ellie.

Ellie even had me work behind the counter one day. I learned to make waffle cones and served samples to customers. Ellie and the staff are extremely generous with samples. So generous, that I asked Bob and Ellie if they ever said no to another sample. “Not really,” said Ellie. So a visit to Here’s the Scoop could result in a taste test of many flavors before a final flavor decision is made. A couple of other fairly humorous, also touching moments happened during my brief time there. A father brought his young daughter into the shop and ordered her a cone and himself a cup. While he was paying, his daughter decided she also liked the idea of consuming his cup of gelato. She skillfully managed to ingest part of her dad’s gelato, presumably while he wasn’t looking. The look on her face was priceless. Pure joy.

Another day, Ellie and I sat outside the shop talking and a boy of maybe 11 or so stopped by. Ellie is great with kids, but it took some gentle prodding (and some initial small talk) to get the youngster to express what he had really come for. “You know that coupon for a free sundae that I won?” Ellie nods, even if she doesn’t. “Well, I want to use it, but I can’t find it.” I try not to giggle—he is so cute. “Go in there and get your sundae,” Ellie says with a smile.

I think in the end, it really comes down to the kids for Ellie and Bob. I ask Bob what is the one thing he loves most working in the front of the shop. “The kids,” he says. “Definitely the kids.” And the one thing he loves most about working in the back? “That’s easy,” he says with a smile. “Tasting the gelato as it comes out of the machine!”

Here’s the Scoop is located at 1187 Coast Village Rd., Montecito. 805 969-7020.


Shannon Essa is a California native whose beverage of choice is Santa Barbara Pinot Noir. She is the author of restaurant guidebook Chow Venice! and splits her time between Santa Barbara and Europe, writing and leading wine-, beer- and food-based tours in Spain and Italy for Grapehops Tours.

 


Recipe

StrawberryShortcake

Ellie Patterson’s Strawberry Shortcake

Makes 8–9 servings

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 11⁄2 sticks butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1⁄2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 egg beaten with a little cold water for egg wash
  • 1 tablespoon sugar to sprinkle over biscuits
  • 3 pints fresh, local organic strawberries
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 quart Here’s the Scoop strawberry sorbet (made from organically grown farmers market strawberries from Shepherd Farms)

To Make the Shortcake

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix in the butter at the lowest speed to break the butter into pieces about the size of a pea. Add the eggs and cream to the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated—do not over mix. The dough will be moist and sticky.

Sprinkle flour on your working surface and place the dough on top. Flour your hands and pat the dough out until it is approximately ¾-inch thick. Dip a 3-inch fluted cutter in flour and cut out 8–9 biscuits. Place them on the parchment paper–lined baking sheet.

Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 18–22 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on a
wire rack.

To Prepare the Strawberries

Rinse, remove stems and slice the strawberries vertically into a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar. Let sit for at least an hour so that the strawberries will release their own juices. If you would like a thicker sauce, you can purée a small quantity of the strawberries.

To Make the Whipped Cream

Place mixing bowl and wire beaters in refrigerator until chilled.

Pour whipping cream into chilled bowl. Mix on medium-high speed until cream just starts to peak. Add sugar and vanilla and mix a few moments more until the peaks are stiff.

To Assemble

Split biscuit in half and lay bottom half on serving plate. Place a large scoop of strawberry sorbet on the biscuit. Spoon sliced strawberries on top. Add a dollop of whipped cream. Place top of shortcake on an angle. Serve and enjoy.

 


Drink Recipes

Sorbet Bellini

  • 1 pint Here’s the Scoop peach sorbet
  • 1 bottle Prosecco or other sparkling wine (or sparkling water)

Assemble 6 friends and 6 wine glasses. Pour a couple of ounces of bubbly into each glass. Add one large scoop of sorbet to each glass. Add a little more bubbly to fill each glass and stir slightly.

Variations

This cocktail can be made with other Here’s the Scoop sorbets such as apricot, strawberry or watermelon. We also tried this cocktail with a float of St-Germain Liqueur.

Not for the Kiddies Real Beer Float

  • 1 pint Here’s the Scoop vanilla, chocolate or espresso gelato
  • 1 six-pack or 750ml bottle local stout or porter beer, such as Firestone Velvet Merlin, Telegraph Stock Porter or Island Brewing Jubilee Ale.

Assemble 4–6 friends and 4–6 pint glasses or other roomy beer glass. Pour chilled beer halfway up each glass. Add one scoop gelato. Then add more beer as far as you can (or want to) go. You may have leftover beer, but we think that will be OK.

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