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This Summer’s Prettiest Cookbook Comes From Cult Ice Cream-Maker La Grotta

Carmen Rosy Hall

La Grotta: Ice Creams and Sorbets

Reprinted from La Grotta. Copyright © 2018 by Kitty Travers. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Grant Cornett. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Reprinted from La Grotta. Copyright © 2018 by Kitty Travers. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Grant Cornett. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Reprinted from La Grotta. Copyright © 2018 by Kitty Travers. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Grant Cornett. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Reprinted from La Grotta. Copyright © 2018 by Kitty Travers. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Grant Cornett. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Reprinted from La Grotta. Copyright © 2018 by Kitty Travers. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Grant Cornett. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Reprinted from La Grotta. Copyright © 2018 by Kitty Travers. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Grant Cornett. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Reprinted from La Grotta. Copyright © 2018 by Kitty Travers. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Grant Cornett. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Reprinted from La Grotta. Copyright © 2018 by Kitty Travers. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Grant Cornett. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Reprinted from La Grotta. Copyright © 2018 by Kitty Travers. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Grant Cornett. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Reprinted from La Grotta. Copyright © 2018 by Kitty Travers. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Grant Cornett. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Reprinted from La Grotta. Copyright © 2018 by Kitty Travers. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Grant Cornett. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Reprinted from La Grotta. Copyright © 2018 by Kitty Travers. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Grant Cornett. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Reprinted from La Grotta. Copyright © 2018 by Kitty Travers. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Grant Cornett. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

From her beloved “ice cream shed,” formerly a produce shop in Elephant and Castle, Kitty Travers has developed a modern ice cream company, La Grotta, exemplifying how fresh ingredients paired with classic methodology can—with Travers’ taste—become something entrancing.

Continually captivated by the fragrant peels, leaves, and flesh of both foreign and local produce, her refreshing vision of frozen dessert is now accessible across countries, with her first book, La Grotta: Ice Creams and Sorbets, published this year in the U.S. With photos by Grant Cornett shot over the course of a long weekend, this bible of churned ice, fruits, and other flavors evokes the passion that made the book possible. “All the [photo] props were things I’ve collected along the way and had in a bag in my workshop—including old orange wrappers kept from when I was a greengrocer, and a melon wrapper I saw on a floating fruttivendolo barge in Venice and had to swipe,” says Travers.

The book is the culmination of thirteen years of research, Travers’ notes compiled in a custard-stained notebook.

Before starting her ice cream company in 2008, Travers had never had much luck in conventional schooling. She got a job at a produce store in England, where a van full of fruit and vegetables would arrive from Milan. As described in her introduction, the van carried “moonlight-yellow pears wrapped in inky, indigo sugar paper” and “bunches of dusky black grapes tied with shiny lilac florist ribbon.” A love of fruit led her to ice cream—freezing was her preferred way of preserving such admirable produce.

Travers then spent several years working in kitchens after culinary school in New York, taking all of her time off to travel in Italy and France, chasing tastes of gelato clipped from a chapter of Jeffery Steingarten’s The Man Who Ate Everything. Making journeys with an empty suitcase, she would return home with a bag full of fruit, practicing her ice cream-making at home and at the restaurant St. John, where she first began to serve her ice cream. Soon after, she was selling scoops out the back of her white Piaggo Ape at markets, art fairs, and in tubs at stores around London. Her fruit suppliers catered to her taste by seeking out “the smelly ones,” just for Travers. Her husband recently returned bearing gifts from a work trip, knowing the best thing he could bring back would be a collection of Peruvian mangos.

The flavors created by Travers have a thrilling dimension of flavor without losing any fun. The book serves as both kitchen tool and home decor. With summer in full force, there is no better time to pick up ice cream-making as a new hobby. But for those less inclined, the book is also an inspiring gift for the hosts of your warm weekends away. Come winter, pages of glistening peaches and plums will transport readers to sunny months, when the best thing about a long balmy walk might be the cold treat that follows. The perfect walk, in Travers’ words? “Ideally the sky is deep blue, the sun is bouncing off the pavement and into your eyes. You aren’t in a hurry and can focus on the ice cream cone in hand...and contemplate stuff while you keep an eye on drips. After that, it doesn’t matter where you are or where you’re going. Eating ice cream while you walk is so relaxing.”

If the book isn’t enough for you, Kitty Travers will be running an ice cream cocktail bar at Frieze London this October with Gimlet Bar. You can also take a class with her at Thyme at Oxbarn in the Cotswolds on August 3rd.

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Originally Appeared on Vogue