Ice cream is a weakness of mine. Delicious, a huge variety of flavours and you’re able to eat a whole lot of it as it simply melts away on your tongue. It’s the reason I would never be able to give up dairy, and the winter months are so much better for enjoying ice cream as it doesn’t dissolve into a sticky puddle mess all over your hands near instantaneously.
To say I was keen when I was invited to sample the signature flavours of Chatswood’s new Celcius Dessert Bar is an understatement. Celcius is located on the Chatswood Interchange past the train station and towards the bus stops; a little oasis from the hustle and bustle of the main mall strip and where many new eateries are starting to open their doors.
I went up to the lovely ladies at Celcius – Jen and Irene (Cynth was away that day) – and we had a lovely introductory chat before they invited me to sit down and gave me a copy of their Tasting Menu. I was aghast to see no less than seven full-sized gelatos on the list; I had been expecting to receive tasting spoons of gelato! Should have dialed a friend…too late now. Looks like I would be having gelato for dinner!
All of the elements of the individual gelato flavours are made by the team, and they take a lot of pride in this. From the fried doughnuts in the Loukoumades gelato to the coffee brittle in the Coffee O’Clock, all is prepped behind the scenes. Pulverised biscuits, crumbs, syrups and candied nuts. The only element they hadn’t made for that round of flavours, Irene admitted to me, was the spiral chocolate wafer in the Big Hero; that was a little outside of their baking comfort zone! Their emphasis is on maximum flavour over anything else, and this is also reflected in their choice of milk for the gelato (A2) and soy milk for the coffee orders (Bonsoy).
And just for the record, gelato made with liquid nitrogen is perfectly safe. When added to a liquid such as a gelato mixture, it cools the liquid rapidly while producing a very theatrical cloud of vapour. The rapid freezing process produces a gelato with particularly small ice crystals, giving it a very smooth texture.
The first to come out was Jen’s favourite and her signature, the Loukoumades Lemoncurd with lemoncurd, crunchy Loukoumades, sugar nest and edible flowers.
A visually stunning creation, it was a shame to eat – but of course I’m a person who thinks that shame is overrated. The sugar nest made it a little difficult to eat as you couldn’t push it to one side to enjoy bits of it with the gelato; you had to eat the nest first before you got to the gelato. The gelato was absolutely beautiful; crunchy doughnut pieces interspersed with tangy steaks of citrus which balanced it out nicely. I almost ate the whole thing before I remembered I had six more gelatos to get through and had better pace myself.
This one is Jen’s favourite and signature. Coming from an Indonesian background, she admits she loves fried foods, particularly fried desserts, and she’s looking at having more fried sweets available from Celsius soon, such as churros.
The Big Hero with Ovaltine malt chocolate, chocolate wafter and chocolate malt crunch would go down a bomb with the kids and it went down well with my inner-child who still remembers paying 10 cents at the school canteen for a little packet of those malted goodies. This is for those who prefer a malt and Milo flavour over traditional chocolate; it’s not as rich and dark or bitter.
I was a little apprehensive when the new flavour, Sweet Fields came out, as the menu said it had sweet corn and blackberries. Sweet corn, in an ice cream flavour? I was expecting kernels of tinned corn embedded throughout the scoop, but when eating it didn’t find the texture or flavour that I was expecting at all. Lightly nutty and with lingering notes of caramel, lots of vanilla and plump, sweet blackberries.
I was told by Irene that it’s made by actually blending real sweetcorn off a cob into the gelato mix, playing on that sweet-and-salty combination. I was mindblown. While my favourite flavour is yet to be introduced below, I would come back for this. It really did evoke flavours and memories of spring and sunshine.
I was starting to struggle at this point and had to ask for a cup of hot water as it was a chilly day and I was starting to shiver! Anyway, I had a palate cleanse and started on the Monkey Magic with banana, Nutella, peanut butter choc chip cookie and caramelised banana. As mentioned previously, all elements are prepared by the wonderful Celcius ladies, including the moreish peanut butter choc-chip cookies embedded in the ice cream with gooey strands of Nutella. The bruleed banana was a particularly sophisticated touch.
Now this was my favourite. I give you the Coffee O’Clock: espresso, candied almonds, Nutella and coffee brittle. Java lovers will adore this one. It’s strong, punchy, rich and earthy; like an affogato with every spoonful, but more solid. An affogato that lasts for longer! Then you get the gloriously satisfying salty-sweet crunch of candied almonds, the chocolatey Nutella and the bittersweet shatter of the coffee brittle. I would go back for this one again and again. I was sad when it melted.
I knew I was nearing the end. The Grand Mango is a spectacular affair, with mango, Tapioca pearl sago and evaporated milk. Those who like those funky Asian desserts with shaved ice, etc will like this one. It’s very very smooth mango gelato, with those funny gelatinous sago pearls which add so much novel texture. Add a pipette of evaporated milk and it’s a replica of those creamy, sweet mango puddings from yum cha trollies.
The Watermelon Splash defeated me. I managed a couple of spoonfuls though, swayed by the refreshing palate-cleansing nature of the watermelon combined with the punchy hit of raspberry. I wasn’t sure on the honeycomb at first, but it gave the fruit sorbet a wonderful lingering sweetness and crunch.
I had an interesting chat with the ladies while I was finishing up my epic gelato tasting session. All three come from corporate office backgrounds and are childhood friends that came together, believing that there was a little more to life than sitting in a nine to five job five days a week. Celsius was their initiative to bring a taste of their passion to the Northern Suburbs, and they pride themselves on distinguishing their products from those on the other side of the bridge in the city. From making everything themselves from fresh ingredients to catering to the specific tastes of their Chatswood audience, they are enjoying the challenge and one of the girls has left her office job entirely to take on the business full-time and give it her best.
It’s beautiful to see how far some people can take their aspirations and enthusiasm.
Celsius Dessert Bar
Chatswood Bus Interchange
436 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood NSW 2067
(02) 8068 6895