Tuesday, September 21, 2010

amo-te santini

I'm so sorry for my long absence on this blog! The last four weeks were big ones for the 30 Before 30 Project, what with road trips and European adventures taking me off the Internet in general, and monopolizing my time from this blog in particular. My adventures eventually led me to Lisboa, where I collected some Chiconomist-worthy experiences.

I came to Lisboa armed with research material from Chowhound on food to eat and restaurants to try. But somehow, one of my most transcendent Portugal eating experiences came about by following the crowd into a chic little geladaria off Rua de Carmo in Lisboa's trendy downtown area, Baixa-Chiado.
Gelados Santini has been providing delicious refreshment to Portuguese people from all walks of life, from the royals to the local beachgoers, since 1949 from it's famous outpost in the beach town of Cascais. A vintage cover of Italian Magazine Época showing Princess Maria Beatriz de Saboia digging into  a cupful of Santini's gelado is displayed prominently in the Lisboa shop. 
It's near impossible to walk in Baixa-Chiado without running into someone holding a heaping cone or cup of Santini's gelado. After running into enough gelado-weilding folks, I just had to get in line for one.
There always seems to be a line in the shop, but it's not a big deal waiting because that time is useful for figuring out which of the scrumptious sounding flavors to order. 
€2.50 buys you a cone or a cup with two sabores or flavors. I saw a vintage photograph of Mr. Santini holding a bucket full of fresh raspberries hanging on the wall, so I thought it was a sign to order framboesa. To round out the tartness of the fruit, I ordered some sweet doce de leite.
I was in a bit of a funk during my stay in Lisboa (I chalk it up to residual Ibiza exhaustion + surfing withdrawal) but I could swear that after one taste of this gelado, the skies parted, the sun shone down and birds started singing. I was a very happy girl indeed. The texture was smooth, and velvety. The raspberry gelado was bursting with fruit flavor. The doce de leite taste was perfectly balanced between the caramel's sweetness and the milk's creaminess. Absolutely delicious.

The next day, I had to go back. After returning to the city from an afternoon at Batalha, I stopped by Santini for another cone: this time trying the chocolate chip and strawberry flavors.
Again, swoon-worthy. The strawberry gelado was so rich in flavor it was like digging into a cupful of the actual fruit. And the chocolate chip was just a decadent little treat. Since it was my last night in Lisboa, I surmised after dinner that a second cup of gelado was not just justified but absolutely necessary. The girl at the counter (the same one who served me earlier in the day) gave me a strange look when I came up to the counter. She surely recognized me as I was probably the only tan Asian girl running around in an all-white outfit it Lisboa. I ordered a cup instead of a cone this time, in a vain attempt to save maybe 5 calories. I ordered mango and caramel, a combination that once again hit the ball out of the park. 
For someone who normally eats ice cream maybe once a month, it says a lot that I had three helpings over two days! I thought that Santini's gelado was a bargain too, considering most spots in Portugal and Spain will charge you €2.50 for a packaged Nestle treat. If I'm ever in Lisbon again, you can bet that my first order of business will be getting my fix at Santini's!

The original Gelados Santini is located at Av. Valbom 28, 2750 Cascais, Portugal. In Lisboa, it is located on Rua do Carmo 9 a 11 in Baixa-Chiado.

1 comment:

KIRA ♥ said...

Pure heaven! I was drooling while reading your post!

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