There’s no hiding it: Caroline and Jean-François Beetz were genetically predisposed to love ice cream. Not surprising since their father owned the chain of ice cream shops Paysanne. If both children had ambitions of working away from home, at more high-flying endeavours maybe, ice cream oozed in their veins, dragging them back to the family business as so many offsprings before them.
Of course, while their childhood slurping ice cream left sweet memories to say the least, their need to pave their own way, push the limits, in other words to be entrepreneurs of their own, egged them onto a different path: they decided to add gelato to the mix, ushering Paysanne into a new, younger, trendier era. This Italian “ice cream”, the choice of connnoisseurs, is churned longer than its North-American counterpart and so has less air whipped into it, giving it a denser texture and adding less calories to one’s love handles, quite frankly.
If they dreamed of changing names, it would have been impossible, if not for the sake of continuity, at least for the respect they owed their generous father. Thus was born Paysanne Gelato, with its parodoxical menu combining gelati made the old-fashioned way… and beaver tail pastries. While the classic soft-serve vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate remains a big draw, the gelati command more attention. My friend Katerine-Lune Rollet, a gelato expert who has followed her passion for the stuff all across Italy, once told me that good gelatarias are measured by the quality of their pistachio flavour. The one from Paysanne Gelato was a surprise (okay, the only time I ever ate pistachio ice cream before was the gunky commercial stuff I loath, so an aficionada I’m not).
The chain has 7 outlets, either standalone or inside shopping centers. All gelati are made in the Boisbriand head office that I had the privilege of visiting once, when I was planning an article that never went to press. At the time, I enjoyed the opportunity to stuff my face with gelato cakes. But I digress.
So if you’re nowhere in the vicinity of the commanding Kem Coba in Montreal’s Mile End or Quebec City’s Tutto Gelato, may I suggest you give Paysanne Gelato the chance it merits? Those who like a good slap to the tastebuds will want to try the pink grapefruit sorbet —my favourite!—, closely followed by the far mellower hazelnut, 72% dark chocolate and piña colada gelati. Of course, taste is subjective, so if you haven’t outgrown your taste for bubble gum ice cream, who am I to judge? Okay, that’s not true, I’m judging you. For birthday parties, it’s worth noting all outlets offer gelato cakes, bars on a stick and even frozen canolis.
Rumour has it their rum raisin gelato is the bomb, but it’s only available in some neighbourhoods. As for the prune or balsamic gelati that Caroline dreams of introducing to Quebec after discovering them in some far-flung part of Italy, it will have to wait for our traditional ice cream ways to change and maybe leave the beaten path. I, for one, would give it a go!
* Thank you to Paysanne Gelato for the photos.