ARNALDO Morelli’s love of the flavour of hazelnuts from Italy resulted in another outstanding success in the finals of the prestigious UK Great Taste Awards for Morelli’s Ice Cream, the family’s historic business in Coleraine.
The company came away from last week’s finals with the Regional Fork for Northern Ireland for the tastiest product from Northern Ireland and one of the best in the UK.
Arnaldo, managing director of Morelli’s, which was launched in 1911 and is now Northern Ireland’s most successful and widely respected innovators of authentic Italian ice cream flavours, saw the company’s new caramelised hazelnut ice cream named among the 13 most delicious products in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland at the finals of the UK Great Taste Awards, Europe’s most influential food and drink competition.
“We had been working with hazelnuts from Italy’s Piedmont region for some time and decided to enter the ice cream in the Great Taste Awards to see what the experts thought of it,” Arnaldo explains.
“I’ve always loved hazelnut ice cream. While it’s probably my favourite flavour, hazelnut on its own never really sold that well. I decided to ‘tweak’ the flavour and to make it more appealing to the public. We all have a sweet tooth here and so larger, crunchier, caramelised nuts and a salted caramel sauce were natural additions. And they worked extremely well,” he adds.
The company’s longstanding practice, he says, is “to refresh its selection of ice cream flavours regularly ahead of the spring/summer season”.
“We always endeavour to come up with around six new flavours especially for our scoop parlours here every year,” he adds. “Children in particular are always looking for different tastes especially during the holiday season. Ice cream, however, is now a round the year dessert favourite.”
Arnaldo’s ‘tweaked’ hazelnut flavour captured the attention of expert judges at the Great Taste finals and they awarded the company the Northern Ireland Regional Golden Fork as the province’s very best food – the first time Morelli’s had won the coveted award. It was, in addition, the only ice cream to win an award at the finals which featured entries from across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. This made it the tastiest ice cream in the finals.
The experts described the ice cream as ‘a very attractive, sophisticated ice cream that has been well made’. Another judge said it was ‘well balanced with the sweetness that makes it so very indulgent and satisfying creating a truly excellent product. This is bloomin’ lovely!’
The winning ice cream was one of 13 products to pick up the coveted Golden Fork trophy for their respective country or region. Other winners included Scottish kippers, balsamic vinegar and craft gins. Mallaig Scottish kippers were chosen as this year’s Supreme Champion.
Now operated by the fifth generation of the Morelli family, the small batch ice cream makers still use fresh double cream and butter from cows grazing on the lush green pastures of the Causeway coast. Toffee brown in colour and super creamy, this caramelised hazelnut ice cream is made with Ballyrashane Creamery’s Irish Double Cream, also from Coleraine, hazelnuts from Piedmont and swirls of caramelised hazelnut nibs and a salted caramel variegate sauce.
Arnaldo continues: “We are thrilled to have won the prestigious Northern Ireland Regional Golden Fork. It doesn’t get any better than being named among the tastiest foods in the UK. It’s a marvellous boost for the business and, of course, the entire Morelli family,” he adds. “I am confident that the new flavour will prove a huge success with ice cream lovers here and elsewhere.”
The Regional Golden Fork is sponsored by business development agency Invest Northern Ireland (INI). The award was presented by Michele Charrington, INI’s business development director in Britain, as part of the Speciality Fine Food Show in Harrogate.
There were a number of other local products taking part in the show such as Burren Balsamics from Richhill, Co Armagh; Irish Black Butter, Portrush, Co Antrim; Hellbent Meats from Belfast; Forest Feast from Craigavon, County Armagh; and Ballygowan’s Noisy Snacks.
In addition to sales throughout Northern Ireland, Morelli’s supplies tubs to multiple supermarkets such as Morrison’s in Britain and Tesco here and in the Republic of Ireland.
The small business employs around 20 people in Coleraine and has been among the most innovative and recognised ice cream producers in the United Kingdom for many years. Morelli’s double vanilla, for example, was named Best in the UK and Ireland in the Ice Cream Alliance Awards in 2019, the most important for the ice cream industry.
In addition to its range of quality ice creams, Morelli’s has produced frozen yoghurt in collaboration with Clandeboye Estate, Northern Ireland’s only manufacturer of yoghurt.
It has a range of Libero branded dairy-free ice cream and has also teamed up with award-winning Irish Black Butter in Portrush to develop a unique flavour for scoop parlours. Its dairy-free range replaced milk with ingredients that maintained the creaminess and flavour of ice cream and featured a healthy coconut fat, a sugar replacement and plant extracts.