Gelà Monfrà: the meat ice cream driving social media (and Piedmontese) crazy

Mar 20 2024, 17:47
The idea comes from the owners of a Piedmontese agriturismo in a small village in the province of Asti with fewer than 1,500 inhabitants. And now, thanks to social media, meat ice cream has become famous

Just a couple of videos on social media were enough to intrigue and push many people, especially from Northern Italy, to try Gelà Monfrà, the meat ice cream made in Piedmont. "People even travel fifty kilometers to taste it; they've come from Milan specifically, and even a group from the surrounding area of Pavia," explains Alessio Macchia, the creator of the new street food made in Monferrato. It's a new way to consume Fassona meat while out for a stroll. It all started from the minds of the owners of Cascina Rosengana in the province of Asti, precisely in Cocconato, a village with fewer than 1,500 inhabitants. "During a fair where we were guests, we chose to bring the representative dish of our agriturismo – Fassona carpaccio with warm gorgonzola cream – to the event, but offering it as street food to facilitate consumption even while standing," explains Macchia.

Gelà Monfrà: how is the meat ice cream made?

The creators of the new street food, born as early as 2018, have reproduced a real ice cream complete with a cone and a logo featuring a small cleaver instead of the ice cream scoop. Everything is made on the spot in a food truck located right outside the agriturismo (also mobile, for events): "There are two of us in the truck, one pounds the meat with a knife on the spot, the other makes fresh waffles on-site with a waffle iron (Piedmontese variant of waffles)," explains Macchia. For the ice cream cone, the ingredients are only three: ground black Venus rice made into flour, milk, and a bit of flour 00. The Fassona meat is fresh and comes from Monferrato itself, as Alessio Macchia explains: "My grandfather is a breeder, and we mainly get the meat from him; when he's out, we go to choose it from farmer to farmer." And he continues: "The luck is that in Monferrato, there is an added value: the tradition of farms that own few calves per family, and where each one slaughters the calf once a year."

In addition to the cone containing meat seasoned only with a pinch of salt, they play with fresh sauces, made on the spot and placed as toppings like whipped cream, Macchia explains: "The sauce made with DOP gorgonzola is the classic one we started with, and it is simply heated in a bain-marie on the spot. Then we also have those with Piemontese green sauce and caramelized onion, which almost becomes a compote." In case of special events, the creators of Gelà Monfrà also make other topping sauces: "We participated in an event with beer and created one with dark beer; we also created one with concentrated grape must for a wine event," says Alessio Macchia.

Who eats meat ice cream

Gelà Monfrà is very popular among seventeen and eighteen-year-olds; those over fifty wrinkle their noses a bit, as Macchia recounts: "In Monferrato, young people are used to eating raw meat from childhood and appreciate it in this new form; adults want to eat it pure, smooth, without sauces. My grandfather, for example, when he wants to taste it, asks for a little plate!"

Cascina Rosengana, the agriturismo of meat ice cream

It was born in 1999 from an idea of Stefania Vigna and Massimo Macchia, Alessio's parents, who now, together with their brother, manage the agriturismo. But Cascina Rosengana is also a farm that produces wine, milk, and hazelnuts, where the whole family works, including Alessio's aunts and cousins. In the kitchen, there is mom Stefania, who prepares traditional Piedmontese cuisine, with a touch of novelty since 2016 when Alessio, now a sommelier, returns to the base after some gastronomic work experiences outside the Langhe.
And that's how traditional Piedmontese cuisine is slightly revisited or proposed in other forms: "We try to make combinations, always within tradition; for example, we play with the fillings of pasta by proposing different versions like taleggio and hazelnuts; raw meat is served with breaded and fried egg yolk; or robiola served with pepper jelly." Tradition and innovation, as Gelà Monfrà demonstrates.

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