Funeral Details for The Last True Independent: Gareth Jones RIP


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Dear Friends of Gareth Jones

We have a confirmed date for his funeral

19 August at 1245

St Patrick’s Church: 21a Soho Square, London, W1D4NR

Nearest Tube: Tottenham Court Road (access via Northern Line only).
Nearest Overground: London Charing Cross.

Please let us know if you will be attending via Joy Davies or Huw Innes Spencer Jones


Any queries please don’t hesitate to ask.

No flowers please.

Black not essential.

Joy, Huw and Tom.

Thank you.

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The Last True Independent: Gareth Jones RIP

It is with the deepest sadness that we confirm the passing of Gareth Jones on 10 July 2015 during a celebratory family holiday in Puglia, Italy, a country he adored.

The language of food is one of passion and Gareth spoke it fluently.  Wherever he went, he sought out the real story, the story at the heart to challenge and delight for Last of the Independents.

Gareth will be repatriated on 21 July.  A London Service will take place in August, details will be posted here and we will contact friends and followers by email and FaceBook.

We have taken great comfort from the messages of condolence we have received so far, further thoughts and memories can be communicated privately via this site.

We will carry on with his mission of spreading Blue Collar Gastronomy to the world.

Meanwhile he cooks with the Angels,

Joy, Huw & Tom

18 July 2015: Monopoli, Puglia

IMG_2758Gareth in his element, Puglia 9 July 2015

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My Gelato love has strong Welsh roots

area-llangollen-big (300x200)Growing up in 1950s rural Wales grounded me in food. We ate in season and most fresh produce came from the garden – ours or friends who’d share when there were gluts.

Llangollen (300x225)Welsh mountain lambs came from the hills around. Black beef from the valley pasture. Pigs went more for ham and bacon – every farmhouse I visited with Grandpa had a fatty flitch hanging off big black hooks bedded deep into the white-washed kitchen ceilings. Butter was near white and fresh churned on the farms. Chicken came from those farm yards, wild brown trout from the brooks and some of the best of salmon from the river Dee. I’ll stop with mushrooms from the meadows, wild strawberries from the hedgerows and plovers’ eggs off the plough.

Trips out to the coast, a couple of hours away from our house, meant ‘Italian’ ice cream.  It was ‘Italian‘ because it was made by Italians who’d chosen to settle around the coast and open ‘milk bars’  many of which became ice cream parlours. Whether they took the word ‘parlour’ from the dairy farm’s milking parlour is lost in time. They were cool places for sure – decorated in ice cream colours with contemporary furniture that owed more to the American diner than Italian roots. We’d seen nothing like it. The swooshing and wooshing of the 6 or 8 port shiny chrome or testa rossa Gaggia’s, the clinking of the glass coffee cups, the music from the juke box and the ice cream. The word ‘gelato‘ was many years off entering my vocabulary.

My rock & roll was born in the Italian ice cream parlours and coffee bars – Buddy, Jerry Lee, Lonnie, the Everly’s and Elvis came into my young life over tubs of this Italian ice cream. This was something one couldn’t have at home and that made it more special again. Flavours seemed limited to vanilla, strawberry, chocolate – still the world’s three most popular flavours – although there were maybe more. Also for the parents there were tutti-frutti and cassata, but we kids didn’t care for Sicilian candied peel. I’m sure there’d have been knickerbocker glories, sundaes and banana splits – the first being deemed vulgar,  the second being as sedentary as childhood Sundays and what’s to say of the banana split except that bananas were a rare treat back then after WW2 rationing.

Sometime in the mid-1960s a certain Michael Forte arrived in our town – brother of one who was to go on to become Sir Charles. The Forte’s became family friends and I found myself a holiday job working as a barista. We had real gelato and were allowed to indulge ourselves. It takes the years to roll by so as one can appreciate one’s early awakenings in real food.

Spin on the years and my love of good ice cream has never dissipated. The prefix ‘Italian’ keeps showing up wherever I get to taste superior ice cream – not just in parlours like Pelosi (sadly no longer family run), Morelli’s, Verdi’s, Minghella’s and others I’ve visited. Which was the one in old South Shields where I’d stay with ‘Aunties’ – three eccentric spinsters from my mother’s Scottish family, one even had a moustache and makings of a beard. Aunt Beatie was  best – she being the local photographer and so outgoing. Beatie always took us for Italian ice cream and spoke a good few words of Italian too.

IMG_9237So many of the seaside gelaterias are still in business across the British Isles and in our favourite ports of call like Llanes (Asturias), Etretat and Le Tréport (Normandy). Lucky too in making this special – once couldn’t have this Italian delicacy at home so place was as special as taste.

IMG_2247Industrial, high overrun ice cream can never compete with gelato – the two are as different as an apple from an orange. Gelato maestro Vetulio Bondi explained: “It’s like ice and snow. Ice is hard and snow is soft. Air makes the difference, as long as it’s not over-used.”

Here, just today I was sent this ingredients panel for an American ‘Premium’ ice cream by a good friend in Idaho: INGREDIENTS: Milk, Skim Milk, Cream, Sugar, Strawberry/Banana Revel {Strawberries, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Banana Puree (Bananas, Sugar, Ascorbic Acid), Water, Modified Corn Starch, Natural Flavor, Food Acids (Citric, Malic), Red 40, Blue 1, Pectin (Pectin, Dextrose)}, Fudge Revel {Water, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Palm Oil, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Pectin, Mono & Diglycerides, Polysorbate 80}, Pineapple Pieces, Cherries (Cherries, Water, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Modified Food Starch, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Fruit Concentrate, Natural Flavor, Red 40), Mixed Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt), Corn Syrup, Mono & Diglycerides, Carob Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Cellulose Gel, Cellulose Gum, Vanilla Extract, Artificial Flavor.

Is it only in America they can find an ice cream machine big enough to include all those industrial ingredients, little of them on sale to the home gelato maker – thanks be.

Main ingredients of a Florentine Bondi gelato are full cream milk (3-5% fat) with cream added to no more than 10% of the mixture. Then sugar – brown or white depending on the recipe – with a little dextrose (80:20 ratio). If the recipe is say with pistacchio, Bondi buy in Greek shelled new season pistacchio’s. These are roasted in a medium oven for 10′, cooled and then a little sunflower oil and salt are added before the mixture is chopped fine enough for it to have some texture.

If the gelato is to be fruit flavoured, for example strawberry, they take 1kg of fresh hulled strawberries, ½ litre of water, 300g white sugar, 100g dextrose and juice of half a fresh lemon. This is liquidised, added to the milk and cream. 15′ later the machine is ready with perfect gelato.

IMG_2349 (225x300)Talk to any artisan gelato maker and their story is the same. They prefer to make each flavour in small batches – it takes no more than 5′ or so to clean down the machine for the following flavour. The process is continuous and the gelati are always fresh. All the gelati makers I talked with raved about the Bravo™ gelato making machine from Brescia.

I know Brescia as the northern end of the Mille Miglia. I know it too for hunting and Beretta – we tasted the Beretta family’s wines only two years ago. Now I learn that the city of Brescia has more gelaterias than any other Italian city.

“Such high concentration of gelaterias encourages people to enjoy more gelato. It keeps competition high. That’s exciting for gelato, yes, no?” smiled Vetulio Bondi.

Industrial ice cream is frozen deeper and many months old. They rely on heavy overrun and use the likes of palm oil. Overrun makes money as it greatly increases yield – and air comes free but for the energy used to turn the machines. Once again, industrial food production comes under doubt for its practices which have been going on with ice cream since my childhood and probably long before. “Some make their ice cream with whale fat,” we were firmly told as children without even the wave of the forefinger.

IMG_2227 (225x300)Back to the happy world of gelato and we learn of the original recipe still made today by another Florentine gelateria,  Badiani, where their maestro is Paulo Pomposi (left).

IMG_2230 (225x300)This is the Unico Buontalenti, said to be the recipe first made in the late 1500s when the Medici family commissioned famous artist and architect Bernardo Buontalenti to prepare a beautiful feast for the visiting King of Spain. Using his culinary skills to present an elaborate and visually pleasing display, Buontalenti presented the King of Spain with a creamy frozen dessert that we now call gelato. Buontalenti is thus considered the inventor of gelato and Badiani’s recipe stays true to the 16th century original.

Reads almost like ‘Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie……..wasn’t that a tasty dish to lay before a king’.IMG_2295 (225x300)

IMG_2228 (225x300)Then we taste a gelato named ‘The Black Pearl of London‘ from London’s newest gelateria (ie opening soon) run by an architect turned gelato maestro, Massimiliano Leoncini. Fabulous Ice Fires will open in days at 54 East Dulwich Road (London SE22 9AX) – it promises to be a star turn for the jaded capital.

IMG_2311 (225x300)‘Black Pearl’ gelato is made from milk, cream, sugar, rubdi (mango base), mascarpone, green cardamon, saffron, kewra (panadanas syrup), rosewater, oyster brioche wafer, chilli and black pearl topping.

IMG_2264 (225x300) (2)London gelato makers fought back with Oddono’s Bacio di Dama. “It was actually a mistake. Bacio we know is the Perugina flavour based on hazelnut. An assistant bought pistacchio. We tried it and wow! A new flavour was born in the Oddono chain,” explained Christin Oddono – a man whose grasp of technology almost scared me.

I rewound myself to my visit to Carpigiani in Bologna – their university and museum. Being like minded I signed the pledge back then to help make gelato understood as being distinct from ice cream.

IMG_2417 (225x300)Then comes the Gelato Festival rolling into London with its F1-style trucks. Would I help launch the festival they said?

IMG_2280 (225x300)The trucks each have names – Buontalenti, De’ Medici and Il Ruggeri. They are homages to the history of gelato – and here I quote:

‘………It was during the Italian Renaissance when the great tradition of Italian gelato began. The famed Medici family in Florence sponsored a contest, searching for the greatest frozen dessert. A man named Ruggeri, a chicken farmer and cook in his spare time, took part in the competition. Ruggeri’s tasty frozen dessert of sweet fruit juice and ice (similar to today’s sorbet) won the coveted award, which immediately put Ruggeri in the spotlight.

IMG_2279 (300x225)The news of Ruggeri’s talent travelled quickly and Caterina de’ Medici took Ruggeri with her to France. Caterina was convinced that only he could rival the fine desserts of French chefs – and had to make his specialty at her wedding to the future King of France (then Duke of Orléans).

In the late 1500s, the Medici family commissioned famous artist and architect Bernardo Buontalenti to prepare a beautiful feast for the visiting King of Spain. Using his culinary skills to present an elaborate and visually pleasing display, Buontalenti presented the King of Spain with a creamy frozen dessert that we now call gelato. Buontalenti is considered the inventor of gelato.’

IMG_2453 (223x300)At this point consider this – we are in Old Spitalfields Market in a custom built gelato truck named after Caterine de’ Medici. Wouldn’t she be proud to know the truck full of gelato was minutes away across the street from the first settlement of French Huguenots – the Protestants she did so much to help from their persecution in France.

DSC_9462 (2) (159x300)Speaking at the launch press conference, my good friend the Italian Trade Commissioner, Fortunato Celi’ Zulo turns accepted history on its head. He is a proud Sicilian – he is also a cook and, says he, he once made gelato for his family’s deli back in Sicily.

He tells of frozen desserts first coming into Europe with the Arabs when they settled in Sicily. They would eat flavoured snow from Mt Etna where they’d have buried fresh fruits to preserve them through the achingly hot summer months.

The Ancient Romans did the same by using snow from Mt Vesuvius.  This was eons old and the true origins of sorbet / sorbetti – a story as pure as driven snow we might say.

Fortunato offered his story from Sicily about the arrival of gelato with a restaurateur from Palermo, Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli. In 1689, Procopio moved from Palermo to Paris where he opened a café serving exotic coffee and drinking chocolate as well as ‘a refined gelato served in small glasses that resembled egg cups’.

Le Procope, as the café was known, became hugely successful and gelato spread throughout France and into other parts of Europe. We still have Le Procope at its original address in St Germain – 13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie (7e). I have walked past so many times without knowing its importance to the world of gelato. Since the 1960s, I have rarely moved out of St Michel and St Germain when in Paris. It’s all there – Le Procope was the first café; La Petite Chaise on Rue de Grenelle (opened 1686) was the first restaurant. I celebrated my 25th there.

IMG_2430Back then to Buontalenti and the Florentine Paulo Pomposi who has the gelateria ‘Badiani’  (Viale dei Mille) known to all for their recreation of that first ever gelato recipe known simply as ‘Buontalenti’. This is a perfectly balanced mix of full cream, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla – imperative is the word balance. This is gelato. I have found my nirvana. Like with the finest cassoulet of Castelnaudary, Caterine de’ Medici has impacted on my life.

When Countess of Lauragais in 1530, she introduced the South American white lingot bean to Castelaudary. Her brother, Alessandro, had gifted her a bag of these beans at her marriage, claiming them to have aphrodisiac qualities. This became a tipping point for the cassoulet’s excellence – and why Castelnaudary has been recognised since the 1920s as ‘La Capitale Mondiale du Cassoulet’. There’s even a sun bleached, beaten up sign on entry to the town on the RN in from Villefranche and Toulouse – or was all those years we’d stay nearby through the 1980s.

We have Expo Milano happening right now and to celebrate we have a gelato in Expo logo colours – mango, strawberry and kiwi. If I don’t make it to Expo, at least I have tasted the logo.IMG_2238 (225x300)IMG_2233 (225x300) (2)

More, far more to come on gelato and what I learn from the masters before their F1 trucks roll on to Amsterdam and Valencia. My Valenciana family is well known to these pages – so expect horchata, saffron, citrus and nisperos. When in Amsterdam, will there be Jenever, Ketel One and if someone’s smart enough with recipes from WW2, tulip bulb – like the soup we ate there in February at the amazing Amsterdam Food Symposium.

IMG_1332 (150x200)The emphasis is always on local meaning sourcing the best local ingredients and getting as close to 0Kms as possible. That’s the Italian drive right now and Slow Food’s Carlo Petrini supports it all the way.

‘Made in Italy’ is one of the world’s biggest brands – millions are spent to promote it and millions more to protect it. Gelato is but one example of Italy’s right to the laurel wreath in desserts. I learned that at an early age – in Wales – and now I get to play with the real toys of gelato in a big grown up truck. I am happy. ‘I scream, you scream, we all scream……….gelato’.

IMG_2433 (300x225)My special thanks to Gabriele Poli, director of the Gelato Festival for helping me with this article (seen here left of shot). Thanks too go to ICE Londra, Vetulio Bondi, Paulo Pomposi, Massimiliano Leoncini and Christin Oddono for sharing their art. You made a Welsh boy very happy.

All you need to know about this summer’s Gelato Festival as it rolls onto Amsterdam, Valencia and then home to Italy: (225x300)IMG_2281 (225x300)IMG_2284 (272x300)IMG_2287 (300x225) (2)IMG_2327 (225x300)IMG_2302 (225x300)IMG_2374 (300x225)IMG_2383 (300x163)IMG_2446 (300x225) IMG_2345 (225x300) IMG_2451 (225x300)IMG_2411 (300x282)








Posted in 0Kms, American Dishes, Food of the Ancients, Food travel, Gin & Jenever, Ice Cream & Gelato, Ingredients, Normandy, Real Italy, Southern Italy, Terroir | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment