With Graham from iScream
Earlier this summer iScream in the Covered Market began delivering by bicycle, having set up an online ordering platform. Co-owned by Oxford residents Graham and Jen MacDonald, the business has thrived through lockdown through a combination of innovation and excellence.
As iScream goes full ahead with its plans to deliver using EAV vehicles in the near future, Graham takes us on a gelato journey with some fascinating facts about the city’s favourite treat.
Gelato and ice cream, what’s the difference?
Gelato is of Italian origin and is made with a base of 3.25% milk, cream and sugar. Although in our case we use Organic Guernsey milk & cream, which we get straight from the farmer. Being an un-homogenised milk, it is lower in fat than other styles of ice cream. Gelato typically contains 70% less air and therefore more flavour, giving it a density and richness that distinguishes it from other ice creams. We do not add any eggs and it is also served at a higher temperature.
Who dreamed up this dreamy delight?
Gelato in its modern form is credited to the Italian chef Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli. In the late 1600s he opened his “Café Procope” in Paris. He introduced gelato, earning notability first in Paris and then in the rest of Europe. Thanks to his gelato, Procopio not only obtained French citizenship, but also got an exclusive royal licence issued by Sun King Louis XIV, making him at the time the sole producer of the frozen dessert in the kingdom.
Where in the world can we enjoy gelato?
Nowadays, gelato is known worldwide and Italy is the only country where the market share of artisanal gelato versus mass-produced gelato is over 55%, with more than 5,000 modern Italian ice cream parlours employing over 15,000 people. Outside of Italy the highest numbers of gelaterie are located in the UK, France, Germany and north Europe in general.
Why is your gelato so world-beating?
iScream prides itself on using only the very best ingredients, most of which is imported from Italy. We have also made a huge investment in the machinery – using only the very best Carpigiani equipment – my mixer alone costs nearly £5,000. Our sorbets are Vegan and made using tons of ripe fruit, sugar and water, yet they are creamy and like nothing you have ever tasted elsewhere. This is why we have been lucky enough to win so many awards over the past five years.
famous faces for your famous flavours?
Celebrity customers include The Hoff, Jeremy Irons, Paul Gambaccini and the late Stephen Hawking.
Any strange or unusual flavour requests?
We often get asked to make flavours for a special occasion, such as: saffron & rosewater, pistachio and cardamom, Limoncello, a French pear liqueur sorbet and more recently horseradish sorbet!
Would you describe your talent as home-grown?
Well, when we have them we use blackcurrants, redcurrants, plums, apples and rhubarb from our garden and we are also beekeepers and are now making honey gelato using honey from our own bees.
Why should people rediscover iScream?
Everything we do is taste driven, as our aim is to produce the very best gelato and sorbets we can by sourcing the highest quality ingredients, organic where we can and fresh, seasonal fruits. We want to show you how we do it so we choose to make it in the shop in front of you on a daily basis. Food provenance is important to us, as is the ethical side of business, so this features highly in the manner we conduct ourselves and the choice of products we purchase. Our chocolates are the best we can find from around Europe and the UK and for us it’s not a question of finding a quick souvenir to take back but to know the recipient is going to really enjoy their gift from Oxford. We would never compromise on the service we provide and we could not be any more passionate about what we do. We think we do it well and for us it is about return custom because the experience was one of enjoyment.