Starred ice creams
Magicien de la glace, Pierre Geronimi transforme tout ce qu'il touche en fraîche gourmandise. (en anglais)
Corsica, known as the ‘Scented isle’, is famous for the unique fragrance produced by the flowers and trees of its dense ‘maquis’, French for Mediterranean shrubbery. Eucalyptus, juniper, laurel, rosemary, myrtle, sage, mint, lavender… The heady aromas of its 2,500 species of wildflowers infuse the island’s air. No surprise then that Corsican-born Pierre Geronimi has created savory ice creams since he was 13.
Obsessed with flavors he froze such weird things as myrtle, nougat, Israeli dates, candied oranges and almonds. He mixed white peach with Sichuan pepper. Salty ice creams don’t scare him either: he tried everlasting flowers, green tomatos, mushrooms, bellota-bellota ham, urchins, supplemented with Corsican lemon, olive oil, Sicilian pistachios, basil or essential oils. Barack Obama himself had the chance to taste his sorbet made of yoghurt and Tonka beans. Last summer he was challenged by a famous brand of champagne to pair a sorbet with a Grand Cru. Guess what? He won.
Pluris – Your ice creams have been praised by some of the greatest French starred chefs, Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse, Philippe Marc. What’s the secret behind your breathtaking flavors?Pierre Geronimi – I won’t tell you! I will just say that some of my friends, who teach physics and chemistry, explained me how cooking affected components. Heat nurtures flavors, for instance, and a thermal shock such as freezing fixes them. And I have always been fascinated by another friend, an oenologist, when he talks about wines with such words as tannin, color, spices, nose, nutlike or sherry-like aromas...
Can you use the same words to describe ice creams?Sure I can! A great chef in Paris once told me: ‘From now on, I know when ice creams are yours, they definitely have their own distinctive qualities’. So my ice creams have a hallmark, like a Grand Cru! I can recognize their long finish, their texture, their appearance. I would also identify their double thickness: the first bite is very soft to the palate, flavors increase afterwards, they become powerful and disappear suddenly.
Products must play an important role. How do you choose them?I buy milk and cream from small co-operative farms in Burgundy, which also produce a terrific butter. Double cream from the Gruyere Valley in Switzerland is another first-class ingredient: its taste and texture are beyond compare, it is rich in fat, and easy to model. Fruits must be fresh, but never frozen – it breaks their flavor. They come from small producers who call me when their fruits are ripe and I can buy them. It’s a just-in-time production!
You were invited to work with Veuve Clicquot last summer. What was it about?The idea was to design a sorbet that goes with La Grande Dame rosé. I chose citrus fruits, grapefruit, oranges, limes, plus strawberries and peaches, and I arranged them in a slightly peppered sorbet. The result was exquisitely fine and festive, which ideally matched the gourmet spirit. Besides it was perfect for the summer.
Which outstanding flavor have you experimented?When I was working at Plaza Athenee chef Philippe Marc introduced me to a fabulous fruit: black lime from Iran – a dried lime actually, loomi amani as Iranians call it. Its flavors are so incredibly powerful that it seemed impossible to handle it. I tried to make the best out of it in a dessert, and a friend told me it tasted like a 1001 nights sorbet. I love that. This black lime is the true Iran nuclear bomb!
More fabulous ice creams here:Glacier Geronimi
Crédits photo : Glace Pierre Geronimi, Laurent Serroussi
Article paru dans le numéro #31 APPEL DU SUD
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