Gelato is a magical thing. It tastes richer than ice cream, but it’s half as bad for you. It’s my frozen treat of choice, so when I got a call from the Wall Street Journal asking me if I could photograph a master gelato artisan, I was pretty excited. Robb Duncan and his wife Violeta own and operate Dolcezza, a small chain of cafes in the District that specialize in really remarkable gelato. This was a pretty hands-on shoot and I got to try almost all of the flavors and I can personally vouch for the deliciousness and creativity of the offerings. Most of the flavors are seasonal, based upon the best offerings that the local farms and farmers markets have at any given time. Dolcezza works closely with area food producers, which was obvious as we walked through the Sunday Dupont Circle Farmers Market. Robb and Violeta know everyone and everyone knows them. They themselves are vendors at the market.
Robb, Violeta, their daughter Pema and Violeta’s mother hang out at their Dupont Circle farmers market booth. They have an actual cafe just up the street and another two around the city.
This is opal basil, a key ingredient in one of the flavors offered this week. Dolcezza gets it directly from the farmer.
Robb and his crew make fresh flavors in the basement of their Georgetown cafe. This was a bit of a tricky shoot since there were no windows. The available light was florescent and the ceiling was low. Had to strobe everything from this point on, creating a pretty dramatically different look from the available light farmers market part of the shoot.
The blackberries and cream flavor has to be strained a few times before it can go into the gelato machine. They make it with fresh blackberries which means innumerable seeds per batch. Can’t have that, now can we?
This is a shot of a giant immersion blender making quick work of the lemon opal basil flavor.