It's been a busy summer. While you've been eating your body weight in seafood and working out what's going to replace the Lara Bingle bob as the hairstyle of 2016, Melbourne's been sprouting ice-cream shops in abundance.
Two prominent dessert chefs have opened pop-ups; one van has added a bricks and mortar shop to its artillery and another store has invested in a van. Plus, there's a freshly minted gelateria/cafe in Kensington and Australia's first Thai-style "teppanyaki'' ice cream shop in Windsor.
Melbourne, for its part, has turned on some scorchers to make them all viable. Here's the scoop.
Named after the year in which it is believed gelati was invented in Florence (one of the most hotly contested "facts" in the world), this new Kensington cafe and gelateria is strong on Italian tradition. The room: sleek, clean and featuring ice-cream art by Bendigo talent. In charge: brothers Adriano, Alfred and Alessio Acquaro and their mother, Joy. Expect a straight-up artisanal gelato game: there's coffee and vanilla gelati, but also ricotta and miele (honey); panettone; poached fig, orange and fennel and watermelon and mint – two generous scoops for $6.
3 Gower Street, Kensington, 03 9376 1965. Open daily noon-late.
Scroll Ice Cream
They're calling it teppanyaki ice-cream, which works. Where N2 whips its custard into iced treat form with liquid nitrogen and Kitchen Aids, these guys use a technique pinched from Phuket of pouring their base onto a frozen slab and worrying it into fresh, frosty rosettes. Cups are then tricked out with all the usual fruits, wafers and pretzels to complete their Pav-Lova or salted caramel with popcorn creations. Plenty of vegan options are available and the dairy versions are made with cream from St David's Dairy.
190 High Street, Windsor, www.scrollicecream.com.au
If there's anyone you want pimping your soft serve it's dessert chef Pierre Roelofs. He's the man behind the dessert-for-dinner degs that ran at Cafe Rosamond for five years and last year, at Fancy Nance in South Yarra. No more. For the next couple of months he'll be doing themed, tricked out soft serve ice-creams topped with meringues, jellies, pound cakes, gel balls and magic, served out of Carlton North's Green Park Dining on the weekends. There's also a permanent dessert spot, backed by Jesse Gerner and the Bomba team, in the works. This weekend only, he's doing a Bowie tribute – the raspbowie.
Green Park Dining, 815 Nicholson Street, Carlton North, www.pierres-spot.com.au, Sat, Sun noon-7pm.
Philippa Sibley P.S Desserts
Chef Philippa Sibley is a legend of Melbourne's dessert scene. Last at the Windsor Hotel gussying up high tea, she's currently working on a range of ice-creams and sorbets to sell at retail shops. While she's tweaking, she's selling the flavours out of a pop-up at Essential Tree in Richmond. As a longstanding produce worshipper and wizard, she's cut the added sugar to almost nil and ditched dairy for almond milk and coconut creams, so everything from the apricot and vanilla to the black and blueberry to the pineapple, verbena and coconut "verbena colada" is dairy- and (almost) sugar-free.
The Essential Tree, 260 Church Street, Richmond, 0412 818 244, open Thu, Fri, or call to order.
Billy van Creamy
Alex and Mitch Wells have taken their '50's-style ice-cream truck dream and parked it in a Fitzroy North shop. The van rolls on, but they now have a home base to produce their all-natural gelati. They're also serving coffee and fat iced chocolates from the new shop, painted pink and gussied up with pop art ice-creams.
27 Best St, Fitzroy North, Mon-Thu 12-10pm. Fri-Sat open until 10.30
Gelato Messina Truck
Messina has invested in a vintage ice-cream wagon that looks like an American school bus crossed with a milk van. They rolled it out for the Ice Cream Social with Big Gay Ice Cream during Good Food Month last year, and now they're doing it up for future use, yet to be confirmed. All you need to know is that mobile Messina is one step closer to a reality.
Carlton's hugely popular gelateria, Pidapipo, is opening in the south. Opening early in 2016, just opposite Hawker Hall in Windsor, there's going to be a lab for dessert creation and ice cream sandwiches on the menu. Buckle up. Or, unbuckle, more to the point.
85 Chapel St, Windsor