Death in Venice Gelato
Death in Venice Gelato is more than just an ice cream shop, it's also a cafe and it shares its space with other food vendors, including Pizza Thick.
Owner Kaya Ogruce, who's behind Death in Vencice, has a background in chemical engineering, but he left that career path to become a chef. He trained at the Stratford Chefs School and apprenticed at Scaramouche before cooking in renowned kitchens in Europe and the United States.
He wanted to start a business, but instead of going the restaurant route, he and his girlfriend started Death in Venice, named after one of his favourite books and movies.
Now, he introduces customers to his unique flavour combinations, like the baba ganoush gelato - a mix of smoked eggplant and tahini. I'm hesitant to try it, but it's delicious and unlike anything I've ever tasted.
Roasted hay with honey is another one of his well-known flavours. And yes, he uses real hay, which he sources from Stratford, in his days-long flavour-extraction process. He's also incorporated insects into his recipes.
He tries to use as many local products as possible and changes up his menu based on what's in season. In the wintertime he works with root vegetables, such as parsnips and beets, while in the summer he plays with fruitier flavours.
The bright orange carrot, ginger, cardamom and safflower gelato ($3.50 for one scoop), for instance, is seasonal and both dairy-free and vegan. It's sweet, spicy and oddly refreshing all at the same time.
Ogruce also tries to make his gelato as healthy as possible."I don't use any white sugar," he says. "Either it's organic cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, tahini or organic palm sugar."
But health goes out the window when it comes to his ice cream sandwiches ($6 each). For these, Ogruce puts two scoops of gelato between one of Constantinople's cookies. A chocolate chip cookie with white chocolate, almond and sesame gelato is an excellent combination.
As is beet, rose water and cardamom frozen yogurt between two crispy halva wafers. Flavours like peanut butter and croissant are always on the menu. I also try a bit of the decadent and dangerous Jack Daniels and smoked chocolate gelato - it's a bit boozy because Ogruce used one bottle of JD per batch.
While your best bet is to grab a scoop, sandwich or pint ($10) from Constantinople, Death In Venice gelato is available at a few retailers around the city, including McEwan's . Ogruce also does delivery. If you give him a call, he'll bring you four pints for $40. Gelato on wheels? Sounds good to me!
If you want some food to go along with your ice cream, Death in Venice does a mean brunch, offers cheese and charcuterie boards, and also shares its space with Pizza Thick, which serves up Regina-style slices.
This deeper-dish style is pretty filling, especially if you decide to grab a specialty pie, like one topped with pulled pork poutine - this 'za is not for the faint of heart.
You might just need to cool down with gelato once you're done.
Photos by Hector Vasquez.