My Favourite

My Desert Island Ice Creams: Kitty Travers of La Grotta Ices

26th May 2016

Words: Killian Fox
Illustration: Tim Laing

The owner of London’s La Grotta Ices on midnight treats in Iceland, a scenic ice-cream stop in England and the best gelato she’s ever had in Italy

Wild blueberry ice cream in Reykjavik

I was watching Rick Stein’s Long Weekends in Iceland and it made me dream of a place in Reykjavik called Ísbúð Vesturbaejar. It’s a really beautiful 1950s café with neon tube lighting and a stainless steel interior[footnote]They just love ice cream in Reykjavik. People go to swimming pools and eat ice cream instead of going to pubs. I think it’s because they had lots of American air-force bases there after the war and the American pilots brought hot dogs and ice cream with them. So it’s a hangover from that. [/footnote] They’ve got these old, big-bowl ice-cream machines and make two basic types of ice cream, a milky one and a creamy one. You say what your preference is and they pour you about half a litre of ice cream in a paper cup. My favourite was the wild blueberries (you get blueberries all over Iceland). They whizz it up and you sit outside in the long shadows – it’s 11 o’clock at night but still sunny – and eat this amazing ice cream.
Ísbúð Vesturbaejar. Grensásvegur 50, 108 Reykjavík, Iceland; +354 552 3360

“Ice cream is a magic food. The way it melts in your mouth is so fun.”
Read Kitty’s Adventures in Ice Cream

Banana and dolce de leche in Buenos Aires

When I first went to Argentina in 1998, before the huge economic crash, there was an ice cream company called (I think) Munchies that did home delivery. I couldn’t believe it. You’d just dial up a number and someone would deliver it to you. The flavour was banana and dolce de leche – a really delicious, rich, salty-toffee ice cream with banana in it. I went back again a couple of times but the little businesses had become a lot more commercialised. I’m sure they still do really good ice cream though. Dolce de leche is a national favourite. I suppose that comes from gaucho life, having to take calories on long journeys and boiling up milk in cans. I don’t know, but they do the best dolce de leche ice cream in Argentina.

Ice cream brioche in Palermo

I remember going to Palermo for the first time and having brioche with ice cream for breakfast at this basic no-frills ice cream shop in Palermo called Gelateria da Ciccio. (Ciccio’s is Italian slang for Fatties.) They have big squishy brioche buns which they split in half and stuff with coffee or zabaglione ice cream. And you sit there in the sun with your La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper and read the football results and eat ice cream in a bun for breakfast. It’s just the best thing ever.
Gelateria da Ciccio. Corso dei Mille, 73, 90123 Palermo, Italy

Blackcurrant ripple on Brading Down, Isle of Wight

During the summer, Minghella’s have a little 1950s ice cream van on Brading Down on Isle of Wight. You drive up past the old Roman fort and find this dear old man in his brown suit and tie serving ice cream. The flavours are quite simple but it’s really good old-fashioned creamy ice cream using British fruits and British milk. It’s the kind of ice cream that makes you want another scoop immediately after finishing it.
Minghella’s. High St, Ryde PO33 4PL;

Modern gelato in Rome

When I worked in Rome, I used to eat ice cream daily before my kitchen shifts or at midnight after my shift was over. On a recent trip I went to one of the more modern ice cream shops that make really natural gelato and it was probably the best ice cream I’ve ever had, in terms of purity of flavour and the balance, the sweetness. It’s made with pure sugar instead of glucose syrup or dextrose and doesn’t have any milk powder in it. I had amazing flavours: pecorino and lemon peel, local strawberries with local white wine as a sorbet, and pistachio. We only found it on the last day and I really regretted it because there were 50 other flavours I wanted to try.
Fatamorgana. Piazza degli Zingari, 5, 00184 Roma, Italy

Ice Cream nirvana in Rome at Fata Morgana: Pecorino & Lemon Peel/Pistacchio/Strawberry & White Wine. All thirsts quenched

A photo posted by KittyTravers (@lagrottaices) on


La Grotta Ices is at Spa Terminus, London SE16, on Saturdays throughout the summer, and available at select suppliers around London. See for more info

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Image for Kitty’s portrait was kindly supplied by photographer Tif Hunter from his series ‘On Maltby Street 2011’. See more of the series at and find out more about Tif on his website

Follow Tif: Instagram 

Posted 26th May 2016

In My Favourite


Words: Killian Fox
Illustration: Tim Laing

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