By Hannah Dustman
SIENA, Italy – After semi-strenuous walking up and down the stony and hilly streets of Siena through the uncovered Tuscan sun, I was ready for a pick me up. The answer lead me to Grom, an Italian gelato and bakery chain, up the cracked street from the Piazza del Campo.
While I normally try to avoid chain restaurants and bakeries, the open doors and large glass windows leading into the shop showcased a bright wall display not only of gelato but also ghiacciolis and granita sicilianas, enticing me to enter.
Grom first opened its doors in 2003 in Turin, Italy, with the mission to produce and sell high-quality gelato and baked goods using only all natural ingredients and “the best products the agriculture world has to offer.” This includes using only fresh fruit and eliminating artificial flavorings, colorings or preservatives. Even the waffles cones that create a crunchy bed for the gelato are homemade by the company.
According to their website, Grom prepares all the liquid mixes in their laboratory in Turin before distributing them to their retail stores that are now present throughout Italy and even appeared internationally in New York, 2007, Paris, 2008, and Japan, 2009.
Following its success as a gelateria, Grom further expanded its business to include other treats.
I admit, I already had my gelato quota for the day, but my sweet tooth still had interest in a chocolate coated ghiaccioli. Ghiaccioli, comparable to a Popsicle, was also offered in fragola (strawberry) and limone (lemon) flavors. So yes, I walked back up to the counter of Grom and ordered again, pointing to the chocolate Popsicle-looking bar in the back of the cool glass case. After handing the cashier €3, I took a bite.
The dark chocolate shell cracked upon the first bite as a piece fell into my hand. The inside of the ghiaccioli consisted of a gelato-type cream surrounded by an additional layer of cookie crumbs, together creating a rich and decadent dessert, my second of the day.
Others in my group could not resist either, and three walked out of the shop with a granite siciliana, an Italian version of a slushy. Granite is a frozen dessert made from water, sugar and various flavoring options. Grom make their granite following traditional Sicilian recipes.
While gelato will always hold a special place in my heart, ghiaccioli and granite are hard to resist. I am learning to appreciate, and maybe even love, other iconic Italian desserts.