The wonderful thing about putting your goals out there is that people are more than willing to help you reach them. Wendy saw my goal to try Giapo again – I had experienced it once a long, long time ago before they completely revamped their store and concept – and wanted to help me achieve it. Roping in Corrine for another one of her “Welcome to Auckland” experiences – I’m trying to make sure she never leaves – we made a date to get our “haute ice cream” on.
We had a bit of time to spare when we arrived in town, so we strolled down with Corrine to look at the Smith & Caughey Christmas windows. Smith & Caughey is a upmarket department store that always has THE most epically creative windows – this year it was mechanized puppets telling the story of “A Pirate’s 12 Days of Christmas”. I wondered whether CJ would be a little young to get the idea but he loved it! I just wish that the displays had been easier to take a photo of, but I guess that means you’ll have to go see for yourself!
Our other stop was to see “Creepy Santa” – the quintessential Auckland icon. Perched on the corner of the Whitcoulls building in the Auckland CBD, this huge santa figure looks half like he has had a stroke and half like he’s the creepy guy you see lurking in the corner of a bar. He’s definitely not the best looking Santa but he’s such an Auckland icon that there was an absolute furore when the council decided to cut funding for installation this year. Auckland businesses came to the rescue and Creepy Santa rules again! CJ was not so interested in him though, far more interested at the hundreds of cars flowing by at this busy intersection.
After a quick lunch stop for the little dude, it was back to Giapo – the key reason for this trip. We met up with Wendy and entered what amounts to a grown-up classy Wonka’s chocolate factory; a place of pure imagination! The first sign that this is no ordinary ice cream parlor is that all the ice cream flavors are hidden from view! All flavors are listed on the wall and you can have as many samples as you need to select your perfect flavor. Flavours selected, they created our amazing deluxe cups.
Created is almost too weak a word, they definitely work their magic! Yes, that is a blow torch in the picture above, roasting marshmallow on top of an ice cream. An ice cream that is served in a chocolate cup, should you so desire. I so did, and the mixture of roasted marshmallow, gold-dusted hazelnuts (yes!) with the smooth creaminess of Giapo ice cream was a perfect compliment.
Different flavors inspire different toppings so each one is a surprise! Isn’t the little Peace macaron on top of Wendy’s cup the cutest?
As we wrapped up eating our deluxe cups the owners of Giapo arrived. Gianpaolo and Annarosa Grazioli are some of the nicest people you will meet, completely engaging and delightful. It’s great to see how passionate they are about the business and creating the ideal customer experience; other small business owners could learn a lot from them. Giapo organized a ice cream degustation for us – had you ever heard of such a thing? The ice cream degustation is five flavors crafted into miniature works of art and it is AMAZING. I can totally see this being a super-romantic date night for two! Despite stuffing ourselves with our deluxe cups, we were up for the challenge. My favorite totally had to be the blood orange sorbet (pictured with the candied strawberry on top) – if we lived closer I fear I’d be in there every day just to eat that flavor! CJ was in love with the little spoonful I gave him – wee gourmand that he is.
I am so happy that we got to tick this off the 30 before 30 list, with the added bonus of spending time with great people both familiar and new. CJ loved being in the city, little explorer that he is, so this certainly won’t be our last visit. If you’re around Aotea Square or the Civic, you have no excuse – get thee to Giapo!
And you too can have faces like these!