Gelato Man Don Burke Does It Right

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Don Burke of RainDrop Chocolate (810 Waugh Drive, 713-524-2864) is an food artisan in the European fashion. At any one time, he makes no more than 12 flavors in very small batches and is continuously experimenting with new ones.

The lemon custard gelato is spectacular. The lemons are imported from Sicily, specifically the "femminello S. Teresa," which lends an intense, tart lemon flavor without bitterness. On a recent visit to RainDrop, I remarked to Burke that the gelato didn't have that syrupy sweetness that one finds in many commercial ice creams, and he confirmed that he has been working on bringing the sugar content down.

He feels that frozen desserts should be an amplification of the natural flavors of the fruit and he does some kitchen magic to intensify the flavors. (I know some of his secrets but they will be well kept.) Suffice to say, you'd be hard-pressed to find better tasting gelato even in Firenze.

I'd recommend a half and half of blood orange chocolate and lemon custard for your first visit.

Food Geek Trivia: Nine out of ten lemons produced in Italy come from Sicily. The growing season is long enough that there are three distinct periods of harvest: primo fiore (autumn), bianchetti (spring) and verdelli (June and July). Femminello, monachello and interdonato are three of the Sicilian strains. -- Jay Francis

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