Heavenly ice cream

by Susannah Grant posted on 31 May 2024

Those of you that know me, will not be surprised that I´m dreaming of ice cream at this time of year. As the barometer soars, I usually embark on an annual pilgrimage to find the holy grail of truly divine helado.

A chilled moment for the Royals

The legacy from my lecturing days at Florence university has primed my gastronomic antennae to search out chilled silky balls flavoured with toasted pistachios or unctuous chocolate as the days grow warmer.

Long time followers of my multiple musings on ice cream will know that I have scoured far-flung lands such as Beirut in search for that authentic scoop.

Green cider apple flavour – a cloistered original

Little did I know that I´d have to come to a convent to find it this year. For, hidden away in the cool sierra of Segovia, the St Clare Order of nuns have come up with an exotic range of flavours that will have you queuing up at the altar for more.

Chilled super food from the order of St Clare

The nuns of the Santa Clara convent at Villacastin moved into the tiny hamlet, which now has 1,500 inhabitants, in the late 17th century. These days you will find plenty of Spanish monastic orders turning their ancient recipes for jams and cakes into an authentic cottage industry. These enterprising Clarissa sisters in particular however, have gone one step further and are churning a selection of sublime ice creams ranging from pale green avocado to sizzling blood orange. Personally, I am a devout disciple of hazelnut flavour and a happy convert to pure white coconut too.

Seraphic coconut

Those of you wishing to make a weekend of ice cream tasting can opt to stay at the convent´s hospedería for €20/night including breakfast and a further €15 will get you lunch and dinner. If their ice cream is anything to go by, I´d beg you to find better quality or value.

Villacastin has some interesting gastro-cultural events throughout the year, with chorizo and eggs being celebrated in May, Folkloric dancing in July and their young bulls running riot in the annual fiestas during the last week of August.

Chilling at Contemplare, Aravaca

Fortunately, my friends Mónica Artacho and Alejandra Salinas have brought the convent´s celestial delicacies to Madrid and in Calle Anita Videl in Aravaca you can enjoy a refreshing ice in the garden or buy half a litre to go from their shop, aptly named: Contemplare. There is also an endless array of jams, biscuits, cakes and honey sourced from convents all over Spain.

Vélez hands out one of his creations

For those of you looking to cool down in the city centre, I heartily recommend Maison Glacée which has two branches near the Retiro. Their pastry chef, Ricardo Vélez is a man after my own heart when he recommends us to: “Taste Now or Regret Later”.  Steer your children towards peach and saffron as opposed to mango and sherry, unless you’re aiming for an ultra-long siesta under a shady tree in the park.

The King of Ice Cream

Where do you enjoy your favourite ice cream?

Contemplare – Calle Anita Videl, 8. Aravaca

Maisón Glacée – Calle Alcalá 77 and Calle Ibiza, 42

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