The last installment of “The Dish" talked about two gelaterias that opened in Albuquerque late this summer. (A quick "refresher": Gelaterias serve gelato, an Italian ice milk dessert that's lower in fat and calories than ice cream.) Well, that's not true—I talked about one, Ecco Gelato in Nob Hill, and hinted at the other.
It's time to pay up. The other gelato shop is called Berry Ocean Gelato and Espresso. You'll find it in the far Northeast Heights at the southeast corner of Montgomery and Wyoming.
"There's a long story," Berry Ocean manager Sung Hee Lee says. He explains that he and his wife, Young Hee Lee, who owns the shop, came up with the idea two years ago. They had to. Their two young children, then a few months and 6 years old, were fussy about food.
"We were trying to find the food our kids would eat," Sung Hee says.
As parents, they were in a bind. Sung Hee and Young Hee wanted their kids to eat only nutritious foods like ripe, fresh fruit. "I don't want to give them something that's too sweet and too fat ... but food that's good for their health is kind of expensive in Albuquerque." On the other hand, their 6-year-old daughter had a clear preference for desserts like ice cream over healthy snacks.
The couple dove into research, desperate to find a treat the whole family could agree on. They read about gelati and sorbetti—frozen Italian desserts that are made with fresh milk and fruit. It sounded perfect.
Sung Hee and his wife embarked on a tasting tour of the gelaterias in the U.S. They were blown away by what they found. "It was an amazing taste—and fresh. With regular ice cream you don't know when they made it."
Sung Hee says he makes gelato fresh every day at his shop. In fact, he personally creates each batch—employees aren't allowed to touch the machine—using fresh fruits he processes right in the gelateria. Recipes are his "own secret creation." They're also made with less sugar than traditional versions, which Sung Hee says gives his frozen desserts a slightly firmer texture.
"Sugar is antifreeze—too much turns the gelato into soup, less sugar makes it a popsicle." The goal is find a happy medium without incurring tooth decay.
Flavors he's figured out include white peach, melon, a spicy avocado "guacamole," and Illy gelato, made with 10 shots of Illy brand espresso in each batch. At the time of our conversation, Berry Ocean had about 45 gelati and sorbetti worked out, with 24 displayed at a time, but the sky is the limit. He's even developing diabetic sorbets and gelati made with Splenda.
"If I can serve it to my kids I can serve it to my customers," Sung Hee says. "My daughter," now 8 years old, "brings her friends in. She's proud. And they can get free gelato."