I’m incredibly proud of some of the innovative food producers in New Zealand. As a nation I believe we punch well above our weight, and we are lucky enough not just to have fantastic produce, but incredibly clever chefs and recipe writers. And somewhere at the top of the list of the craziest, but most inventive creators is Giapo and Annarosa Grazioli, owners of New Zealand`s most famous ice cream shop, Giapo,
Renowned almost as much for the queues of people desperate to get their hands on Giapo’s ice creams as the ice creams themselves, the Giapo shop is a must-visit to anyone coming to Auckland. The shop, previously under the Civic Theatre on Queen Street, has recently moved to Fort Street – and one of the additions is a Chef’s Table, upstairs from the shop.
Curious about the idea of a chef’s table for an ice cream shop, I got to experience this unique event myself last night – and to say it’s an ice cream and chocoholic’s dream is an understatement. 14 ice cream courses later, we all left, declaring it one of the most unique food experiences we’ve had in a while.
The evening began the way you’d expect mad scientist ice cream makers to begin: a respectful nod to the homeland, created in a completely new way. Maori fry bread (a recipe Giapo admits he borrowed from fellow Kiwi cooking genius and Maori food expert Monique Fiso), came to the table slightly warm, and stuffed with hokey pokey ice cream, a mouthwatering sandwich that tasted like a large churro with chunks of hokey pokey. Delicious? Like you wouldn’t believe.
At Giapo’s, every course had us oohing and aahing like children in a circus. The now infamous Yorkshire pudding ice cream lived up to its reputation, with even the mat itself made out of beautifully tempered chocolate.
Definitely the most polarising course on the menu is the ice cream served with…chips. Yep, hot Agria potato chips, in a cone, with ice cream. I must admit, I loved it; I loved the saltiness of the chips dipped in the ice cream, and the sheer craziness of it. I was immediately transported back to the days when my kids were younger and we had parties; clearing up at the end, I’d often be guilty of snacking on the leftovers – which were, quite often, exactly these flavours! “The secret to the chips is baking them first – they can’t have any water in them. And they have to be Agria,” explains Giapo.
Giapo and Annarosa clearly eat, sleep and dream ideas for ice creams. The coconut ice cream set in an Auckland Sky Tower chocolate case, chocolate photo frames decorated with raspberry and matcha, the completely improbably colossal squid (who even thinks of turning an ice cream into a squid!), the doughnut ice cream that began its life as a one-time special but became too popular for the team to stop making; even the little palate cleansers in between courses, created from ingredients like edamame beans and coriander that still come out sweet, clean and delicious.
While it was hard to pick a favourite from the amazing courses that just kept appearing from nowhere (including a very secret special one that hasn’t come out yet – no photos as that wasn’t allowed!), it’s hard to go past the stunning white chocolate rocket that Annarosa taught us to eat: by zooming it straight onto your plate so it smashes into deliciously tiny pieces of white chocolate. That being said, I was blown away by the sheer creativity of the dishes that blended sweet and savoury so cleverly. Giapo is a master at playing with flavours, and it seems there are no rules when it comes to pairing and blending.
The chef’s table at Giapo’s is an experience I won’t forget in a long time. Despite being fairly new to the world of in-house dining, Giapo’s chef’s table already has bookings in for as far ahead as November 2018 – so if you’re a glutton for ice cream and innovation, don’t waste time, and book a table!