9/99 The Esplanade (access via Alpin Street)
Cairns QLD 4870
+61 429 996 911
I came across a few surprises in Cairns. These included stumbling across a green sea turtle while snorkelling just off Michaelmas Cay, finding out that Vietnamese food in Cairns doesn’t completely suck (stay tuned for my review of Pho Viet) and that one of life’s greatest pleasures can be found at a tiny gelati shop on Alpin Street.
On our first night in Cairns, Marty and I were walking around the Esplanade area sniffing for food when a stream of bright colours caught our eyes.
Rows and rows of icy poles in many, many different flavours!
Just like Lygon Street in Carlton, gelati bars in the Esplanade/Alpin Street district are dime-a-dozen. With Cairns’ constant heat and humidity, it’s obvious that this market will do well in this part of the country. Even though each gelati bar we walked past appeared to have a steady stream of customers and seemingly in no danger of going out of business, it doesn’t hurt for a new starter to try something different in order to stand out from competition. And that’s what Gelocchio have done. They’ve offered something that no other gelati store in the country can offer: gelato on a stick. It’s surely a novel concept, but it’s not one that’s bound to be faddish. According to the Italian-Australian owner, their gelati are made on premises using 100% natural ingredients with the fruit-flavoured gelati made from fresh fruits from Rusty’s market a few blocks down the road.
Each icy pole is $3-5 each, depending on how ‘exotic’ your chosen flavour is. A basic fruit one starts at $3, while double flavours are $4 a pop (literally). For an extra charge, you can choose to have your icy pole drizzled in chocolate (milk, dark or white) which sets like Ice Magic within seconds. You can also choose to then dip your icy pole in nuts, too. Sure, an icy pole at Gelocchio costs four times as much as a Frosty Fruits stick from your local servo but that’s a pretty decent price to pay for a delicious treat made with 100% natural ingredients, free from nasty preservatives and chemicals. Even that there are literally dozens of mouth-watering flavours to select from, choosing just one flavour is a difficult task that’s on par with choosing which act to watch at 7pm at this weekend’s Future Music Festival (GAARRRR damn you, organisers! Sif put Paul van Dyk and Fatboy Slim on at the same time!).
The first time Marty and I were here, he had the sour cherry stick while I went for the pineapple and mango, seeing as mangoes were peaking in abundance at the time. I also happen to adore pineapples, too. Both our icy poles were insanely, fresh, delicious and more importantly, tasted like real fruits.
We were back two nights later, prior to dinner, and we walked away with a lychee stick and a gianduja (chocolate-covered chocolate/hazelnut paste with chopped hazelnuts), drizzled in white chocolate respectively. My lychee stick was wonderful – I loved the chopped bits of fresh lychee embedded within the ice block. Meanwhile, Marty said that if you mated the flavours of Ferrero Rocher with the texture of a Billabong icy pole, the result would be his gianjuda stick. While his gelato was not as creamy and thick as he expected (idiot, it’s a GELATO), he did like that it had a relatively light flavour which prevented him from suffering from a sugar comatose.
Call us crazy, but we were back shortly after dinner. Yep, on the same night. I think the owner and his young son, both of who were working at the store that night, must have thought we were crazy Asians or something. I mean, we both are but that’s besides the point. Anyway, we were informed that if we kept our used sticks, collected 10 of them and presented all 10 to the store, we would get a free icy pole. Unfortunately, we were due to fly out of Cairns the very next morning so we weren’t able to do so but hell, if we had stayed an extra night in Cairns then anything was possible haha…
Anyway on this very last visit, I ended up ordering a mango and coconut one while Marty went for a chai latte one. My mango and coconut one was just as delicious as the last two I had eaten. The mango half, in particular, was extremely flavoursome and a testament to how awesome Queensland mangoes are, fresh and frozen. Meanwhile, I don’t know what compelled Marty to choose the chai latte one, especially since he never orders the drink version at cafes. My guess is that he was influenced by my (rather impulse) purchase of a bag of Daintree chai tea the previous day, heh. While he loved his delicate chai latte stick, he did tell me that he should have went for his favourite flavour, sour cherry, or even that radioactive green mint-flavoured one which he was eyeing.
Gelocchio quickly became our favourite place in Cairns.* This is a huge call when the Great Barrier Reef is practically in front of your doorstep, the Daintree Rainforest is a short drive up the highway and bars by the marina are constantly filled with hot naval officers on weeknights but hey, we’re sticking by it. Service was always warm and hospitable every time we went there and there was not one icy pole we didn’t like. I guess if I had to nitpick, I’d say that the icy poles melted very quickly which meant that we had to frantically finish our sticks off before the contents dripped all over our tops but hey, it’s not Gelocchio’s fault that Cairns is always warm.
Although Gelocchio is a very small family-run business that’s only operated for less than a year, I’m secretly hoping that they will get bigger (with a current tripadvisor.com rating of #2 in Cairns (restaurants), I don’t see why they shouldn’t), and eventually branch out to Melbourne. Take that, Lygon Street.
*This statement may or may not be hyperbole. I mean no disrespect to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, both of which are extremely beautiful must-see sites when you’re visiting this part of the world.