Editor Gourmet Tess Prince interviews Álex Sánchez, owner of Gelato Ibiza, and talks about ‘Tanit’ the new ice cream flavour of the family business.
Many of Gelato Ibiza owner Álex Sánchez Ribas’s childhood summers are marked by happy memories, but one in particular consistently springs to mind: “One of the most emotional experiences of my life was when our family and friends would gather around a long farmhouse table under the shade of our trees,” he recalls.
“It would be after exchanging produce from our land for the almonds of fellow neighbours and I vividly remember being surrounded by the women of the families as they cracked the shells of the whole almonds with natural stones. There was always an obligatory bottle of home-made licor de hierbas open on the table and this was the only time of year they turned a blind eye, allowing me to join in and savour the taste of the warming amber liqueur.”
Ribas is a well-known ibicenco family name that goes back to a time way before tourism. The lack of commerce and goods in those days meant the families of the island had to live exclusively from the land and sea, giving birth to a culture known as troc, which basically means to barter and exchange, with the sole intention of stocking the kitchen for survival.
Álex’s family were lucky to have an abundance of fruit, wine and sheep, which gave them wool, milk and meat. One of the main influences in Álex’s life was his grandfather Toni Portmany, a man who lived through two wars. As a child Álex would always be by his grandfather’s side, tending to their sheep, stomping grapes and harvesting the fruit. These were the items they exchanged with other families for almonds, herbs, sobrasada and olive oil – Ibiza’s little luxuries.
It was the aromas, tastes and emotions evoked by these childhood memories of troc that inspired Álex to create his “Tanit” ice cream at family business Gelato Ibiza. Aptly named after the Ibizan goddess, this unequivocally unique flavour is made using a combination of traditional methods and state-of-the-art equipment. It consists of an almond milk base and, of course, local herbs. After initially developing the recipe, Álex added high-grade Valrhona white chocolate to the blend to further enhance its deep richness and velvety mouthfeel.
The cultural heritage behind Tanit has now made it one of the most treasured flavours at Gelato Ibiza and it continues to be loved and revered by locals and tourists alike.