Over the moon ... owners John and Wendy Crowl with their children, Sam and Olivia.
Over the moon ... owners John and Wendy Crowl with their children, Sam and Olivia. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Inga Ting

Australia's best gelato is a fresh and creamy pistachio flavour from the Cow and the Moon artisanal gelateria in Sydney, according to Dairy Australia. It named it the champion dairy gelato in its 2013 awards, announced last week.

The Australian Grand Dairy Awards recognise the nation's finest dairy products, selecting the best from the qualifying state competitions. The 21-strong judging panel raved about the gelato's ‘‘delicate uniform appearance’’ and ‘‘smooth creamy texture’’, drawing special attention to the ‘‘superb fresh pistachio flavour, which leaves the palate feeling refreshed.’’

Australians are more adventurous in their taste, whereas the Italian palate is more traditional. Flavours like banana caramel or butter caramel, you’d be hard-pressed to find in Italy. 

Owner John Crowl says the key to a winning gelato lies in balancing four basic elements - sugars, milk solids and non-fats, fats and total solids - to create a soft, compact structure and fresh, natural flavour.

Three of a kind ... blackcurrant-blueberry and mango sorbets with passionfruit cream gelato.
Three of a kind ... blackcurrant-blueberry and mango sorbets with passionfruit cream gelato. Photo: Marco Del Grande

"Gelato should have a ... smooth texture, not granular or icy, and definitely no metallic aftertaste. With some gelatos I taste traces of that – like the taste after putting a teaspoon on your tongue for five minutes. You want a nice, clean palate with only the natural taste of the flavour lingering.”

A former baker and chef, Crowl has made annual trips to Italy for more than a decade to investigate new ideas, innovations and, of course, flavours.

‘‘Australians are more adventurous in their taste, whereas the Italian palate is more traditional. Flavours like banana caramel or butter caramel, you’d be hard-pressed to find in Italy,” he says.

With flavours like lemon and basil or red pepper and wasabi, it seems the sky is the limit when it comes to inventing new flavours. But it’s not just about running wild with any combination you can imagine, Crowl says. Where and how the gelato is served can make all the difference to whether it makes the cut.

‘‘We once did a tomato and basil flavour and it was nice, but we thought it was more for a restaurant than something you’d serve on a cone," he said. "So that was one instance we’re we thought, no, we’ve gone past the line this time.”

Since re-opening its doors under a new name in 2010, this widely-adored cafe and dessert bar in Enmore has won 36 awards at the Sydney Royal Fine Food show, including champion gelato in 2012 for its lime in the coconut flavour and most successful exhibitor of 2011.

Crowl has so many prize certificates his wife, Wendy, has put strict limits on which ones he can display on the walls.

‘‘She says, ‘You’re not covering up all our lovely wallpaper with those awards’, so I’m only allowed to put up the golds. My silvers are all just piled up out the back,’’ he says.

No doubt this latest achievement from what Crowl refers to as ‘‘the mother of dairy awards’’ - will win a spot on the wall. This is Cow and the Moon's first national prize and scooping gold in the prestigious awards has Crowl, well, over the moon.