When she’s not manning the kitchen over at Kirkland’s Café Juanita or chopping the competition on Food Network’s Iron Chef, chef Holly Smith teams up with Heidi Gates to churn out creamy, delicious gelato (Italy’s egg-free variant of ice cream) for mobile cart Poco Carretto, a regular fixture at farmers markets around the city.
Smith and Gates have an arsenal of 40 rotating flavors made with local and organic ingredients. You can also choose from a handful of dairy- and gluten-free sorbettos—they’re like sorbet without the egg white, or sherbet without the milk.
When I visited the cart at the Bellevue Farmers Market, I tried all six flavors present that day: salted black licorice, vanilla bean, chocolate, malt, peach sorbetto, and foraged huckleberry sorbetto. If I had to go back and choose again the malt and huckleberry would be in a close tie for first, but all of the gelatos trail right behind.
How long have you been truckin’?
[Heidi Gates] We started on June 15, 2008, so it’s been a little over a year.
Where do you post up, and why?
We do a handful of farmer’s markets (full schedule here), but what’s great is that we’ve quadrupled our number of catered events since the early days. We’ve gone as far north as Mount Vernon and as far south as SeaTac, and we’ve had requests from Portland, Vancouver B.C., and even Los Angeles. We’d love to buy another cart so we can do even more!
Why did you choose the mobile life?
A lot of the inspiration came from the gelato carts that are all over Italy—we wanted to be mobile like them. It is really nice to be able to go from place to place. And think about it: Wouldn’t it be fun to have your local organic gelato cart arrive at your house?
What’s the must-try item?
During the summer it’s hard not to recommend the sorbettos because they’re made with the great fresh and local fruit, but our burnt sugar flavor has to be one of the best too. We can actually custom make flavors on top of the 25 gelatos and 15 sorbettos we’ve already done. There’s a lot to try.
OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
• Even without the wheels, Tako Truk makes for quintessential street eatin’ culture
• Kurt Beecher Dammeier takes a love of pork to a new level
• Rodney Jones serves delicious soul food at Gert’s BBQ
• Meet Roz Edison of Marination Mobile
• Meet Adria Shimada of ice cream truck Parfait
PLUS: Map out other street carts according to their daily locations.