In the early 80's my sister and I used to go and stay with our mother in Edinburgh. it was the first place I saw a film in a proper cinema, was taken to the theatre, saw a ballet, ate French bread, and had really good ice cream. Scotland doesn't do badly for gelato - even Aberdeen had Casa Marchini (they sold wonderful ice cream and were really the high point of my second year at university when I lived just down the road from them). The love affair with gelato continued when mum and made a trip round Italy, ostensibly I was there to look at as much art as I could see in a week but it turned into an ice cream eating marathon (especially in Venice where between us we ate an epic amount of the stuff) but since that trip I've searched in vain for something even close.
You can buy excellent ice cream from any supermarket these days but I've yet to find a anything like a satisfactory vanilla gelato that would transport me back to Edinburgh aged 9 eating the best ice cream sundae I'll ever have. Well if you can't buy it you can try and make it so ever since I got an ice cream maker a couple of years ago I've been looking for a recipe that will approximate the taste I remember - it's been surprisingly difficult. Most recipes I've found are based on a custard which is clearly not the place to start (I like custard, quite possibly more than the next person, but I don't care for it frozen) anyway long story short I bought the 'Dri Dri Gelato' book a couple of weeks ago - it looked promising - and started experimenting.
My first attempt at their vanilla was tasty but wrong (my ice cream maker is a small domestic beast and could not cope, nor was it fair to expect it to, with the still really quite warm liquid that the book assured me was ready to be churned). Also 4 vanilla pods is possibly excessive, the magical ice cream of childhood was without vanilla seeds and still very good so I felt it should be possible to recreate it without taking out a second mortgage. Finally the frozen texture of the Dri Dri version just wasn't quite right - and though they recommend eating it straight out the churn mine wasn't going to make it firm enough...
The second attempt however is divine, I used a bit less milk and a bit more cream. I didn't bother at all with vanilla pods going for extract instead, and as I added it to the churn rather than when I was heating the milk and cream the result (that I hadn't thought through) is that the very small amount of alcohol has stopped the gelato from freezing rock hard. I also cut down the sugar slightly. What I didn't do was accurately measure the amount of milk or cream I used. or vanilla extract. This is a massive fail, and whilst I've learnt my lesson regarding note taking, I will just have to hope I can recreate (and share) the magic. Meanwhile I've got a small amount of very good ice cream (not for sharing) and hope! There will be more about the gelato book when I've tried more recipes.