A Whole New World

Since moving to Austin nearly two years ago from Rhode Island, Brent Petersen of New World Gelato has been blown away by the community’s response to his small-batch, handcrafted gelatos and sorbettos made with many local, seasonal and organic ingredients. “I’m just amazed at the depth that people support local food, and the knowledge the people of Austin have,” he says. “I used to spend a lot of time educating people about local food—why you want to get away from factory farming and things of that nature. But I don’t spend nearly as much time doing that down here.”

In fact, Petersen says the only thing he regularly has to explain to his customers is what exactly gelato is. Unlike ice cream, which is colder (served at minus 10 to minus 20 degrees), cream-based and often mixed with some air, gelato is slightly warmer (5 to 10 degrees), milk-based and slow beaten, so that almost no air is incorporated. “Gelato is less in butterfat, less calories, but I believe you get a lot more flavor in gelato because of the process,” he notes. “[Plus,] if you’ve ever had the difference between cold cheese and warm cheese, dairy is so much more flavorful when it’s a bit warmer.”

Petersen—formerly a small organic farmer who organized his Rhode Island town’s first farmers market—says he uses only the best ingredients for his sorbettos and gelatos, including Mill-King Market & Creamery milk, strawberries from Sweet Berry Farm in Marble Falls, Belgian chocolate and even Texas-grown blood oranges during citrus season. He says he first discovered the importance of using fresh ingredients several years ago while experimenting with a lemon sorbetto recipe that included bottled lemon juice. “It was good,” he says. “But then I started juicing my own lemons and getting Meyer lemons and zesting them myself and putting the lemon zest into the sorbettos, and it was just light-years ahead of what you can get with prepackaged ingredients. I was just sold. I really became an evangelist for searching out these fresh ingredients.”  —Nicole Lessin

New World’s gelatos and sorbettos are available at several Austin-area locations, including Mueller Farmers’ Market, Cedar Park Farmers Market and North by Northwest Restaurant & Brewery. For more information, visit newworldgelato.com