What does it mean to live in a “foodie” town? I am finding out with every year that I live in Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley in general. It means that you can find local produce and ingredients celebrated in the top restaurants for every budget but it also means that cuisine from other cultures are readily available and celebrated too but with a local flare. Italian is a huge influence here as is French but both cuisines are made with distinctly local ingredients. Within the last few years I’ve seen gelato popping up more and more.
It’s no longer just ice cream at your local provider but now it’s either gelato and ice cream or strictly gelato. And even your local provider has grown to include cherry orchard stands, goat cheese farmers and Italian coffee shops. But the true test lies in the taste. It’s one thing to serve gelato but its another thing to perfect it and serve it right. I want to get transported back to Italy when I taste the creamy frozen treat with flavours like stracciatella and hazelnut or perhaps coconut and peach.
Hands down the best gelato I’ve had was in Venice at a little spot in Dorsoduro overlooking the Hilton Molino Stucky. But locally there are a few vendors who could give the best pear or cappuccino gelato in Venice a run for their money. Here’s where to find them with a few spots to hit along the way…
Downtown: GioBean Espresso
Proudly serving coffee the Italian way, GioBean is a bit like stepping into an Italian coffee shop but without the confusing cultural and social rules that we North Americans don’t seem to understand without having lived in Italy.
If you’re downtown checking out some of the local festivals this summer, or are simply enjoying some shopping, dinning, or views of the boat bespeckled lake then GioBean is the closest location for a delicious gelato treat with classic Italian flavours. Grab one and find a grassy spot at the end of the boardwalk by the Delta Grand overlooking mountains, the yacht club and the downtown core.
The downtown Kelowna boardwalk is full of life in the summer. Watch the boats come in, the float planes land, the shadows of fish scatter about the shallow lake. It’s a relaxing time that should be enjoyed during your stay.
The Beaches & Pandosy Street: Il Tavolino
If you’re in the mood for some authentic Italian gelato made in house while shopping on the charming Pandosy street or sunbathing at Gyro or perhaps just disembarked your SUP at Rotary then head toward this little hidden gem behind the Save On called Il Tavolino. The founder, Alessandro, lived in Florence where he studied at Le Cordon Bleu while also studying the art of gelato. Find take-away lasagne, paninis and his homemade gelato with local ingredients and fruit.
Wine Tasting on Lakeshore: Carmelis Goat Cheese
If you’ve made it to Cedar Creek Estate Winery for lunch or St. Hubertus for a wine tasting then I beg of you to keep going further down the road to the Carmelis Goat Cheese Farm. Hands down the best gelato in Kelowna it’s all made in house and with their own goat’s milk. The salted caramel gelato is truly life changing whether you like gelato or not…you’ll become a fan of the goat for sure.
Interested in a tour? Prebook by visiting their website or pop in for a cheese tasting. But beware, the summertime can be very busy so bring your patience and camera for the views of the wineries and lake.
Update: There’s a new gelato in town and it’s a real winner. GB gelato is located in the Landmark buildings. It is a little bit of out of the way if you’re staying in the downtown or Pandosy area. They’re very accommodating and will allow for tasters of their personal favourites if you’re new to their chic shop.