Art of Flavors
There is now another reason to visit the area between the Stratosphere and the Velveteen Rabbit. What is officially called the Gateway District, has long been home to one of Vegas’s most iconic of dive bars, Dino’s, as well as the delightfully infamous Olympic Garden. In the past few years, the area has been further bolstered by other local gems such as Goodwich and I Love Arepas. The latest to brighten up an almost forgotten part of the city is the newly opened gelato mavin, Art of Flavors.
The Art of Flavors has transformed the previous shop from a sweet afterthought to a culinary experiment into what flavor can be. Chef Douglas Taylor, formerly head of pastry for all of Batali’s Vegas restaurants, is drawing on his longtime experience in pastry and his farm-to-table expertise to honor the great tradition of gelato making.
While gelato in its modern form is quintessentially Italian, Chef Doug expounded, “I think a lot of people think that gelato is only one style and that’s what it has to be. Gelato or ice cream, actually comes from Asia, originally. The first ones were made with snow that was flavored with different fruits and juices.” As we discussed it further, he explained that the idea of frozen dessert had worked its way to Italy during the time of the Roman Empire where they would use fresh snow pack from Mt. Etna & Vesuvius as a base. Its popularity spread throughout Italy and came to a head during the Renaissance where it was elevated to an art form. Cream became part of the scenario and it soon spread to the rest of Europe and beyond America. Doug continued, “In that process of travel, there’s so many different kinds that developed.”
Gelato can be described with some of the same descriptors as wine. When talking about color, texture, mouthfeel, vibrancy of flavor, all come in to play. When I asked Doug about what makes a good gelato, he exclaimed, “The quality of the product is number one along with being able to keep the consistency. But of course one of the most important elements is overall flavor. When you eat a strawberry sorbeto, it should taste like you’re eating a ripe strawberry. If you’re eating chocolate, it tastes like the richest, most decadent chocolate there is; or if it’s something that’s a little crazier like my salted sweet potato, you should still understand the sweet potato component. I’d really like to expand on what you wouldn’t normally have for dessert.”
Exploring flavors and genres is on his mind. Some of his other newer flavor combinations include, pine nut gelato, China Ranch date sugar free gelato, raspberry sorbeto and a brown butter pecan brittle gelato. While he plans to work with goat and buffalo milk, his newest cow’s milk creation is the extremely flavorful Irish whiskey corn cake gelato. It has everything that you could want in a gelato or a dish for that matter, all of the flavor elements and ingredients culminating in unison. The creaminess meets the fruitiness of the whiskey, without being too boozy, and all the while you receive the satisfyingly spongy texture of the corn cake. Delish!
Far from the mass produced profit-focused flavors that make up the majority of commercial ice-cream production, Chef Doug is building every component of his gelato from the ground up. “It’s not just one style category where I would always use the same base and I just add different flavors to it. I have twenty-four different bases that I make for each item that I make. Since I’m trying to change the menu once a month, I’m basically changing twenty of the twenty-four every month; there’s twenty new recipes I have to come up with and try to perfect it as close as I can. We’re also really focusing on the product in season that we use.”
Doug Taylor has long been a champion for farmers markets and will be sourcing locally as much as possible. He continued, “Right now, I’m getting a lot of my produce in local farms and I’m trying to focus on that. I’m talking to a local egg person up in northern Nevada so I can get eggs sourced locally. I’m even looking for locally produced milk.”
To see what artisan gelato is, please go soon to the Art of Flavors. Chef Doug is not only making the gelato from scratch, he is utilizing his pastry skills in making all types of cones, cookies and baked goods. There will be a taste for all palates. Doug concluded, “I’m really trying to build layers in an artistic way, whether you can taste them, or many different people can understand and appreciate it at different levels. Whether it’s me, who eats gelato all day long every day, or if you’re five years old and you just want strawberry, I want everyone to be happy and have a good time. All enjoying it while I have fun and geek out as hard as I want.”
Art of Flavors
1616 S Las Vegas Blvd #130
Las Vegas, NV 89104