There are plenty of places in the world to get ice cream, gelato or sorbet, but few places on the planet serve scoops so beautiful that they melt your heart. Rocambolesc Gelateria is the sweetest of spaces. It combines the life long dream of a husband and wife team (world renowned pastry chef Jordi Roca and his stunning wife Ale) with insanely talented ice cream wizards, pastry masters, scientists and graphic designers to create fairy tale desserts. Tucked away like Rapunzel in her tower, you need to ascend to the seventh floor of department store El Corte Inglés in order to reach Gourmet Experience and Rocambolesc’s traditional artisan ice cream.
Perhaps El Corte Inglés wisely decided that putting such pretty scoops on display at street level would cause too many window shoppers to gawk and bump into each other or maybe it smartly figured that ice cream topped with wisps of cotton candy deserved to be situated as high in the sky as possible. Either way, hiking up to the seventh floor of El Corte Inglés is worth its weight in sweet cream.
The line at Rocambolesc is often long, but it moves quickly, so have your order ready by the time you reach the counter or you’ll face the ire of cotton candy wielding ice cream maidens. You have your choice of flavors which range from plain frozen yogurt to baked apple ice cream. There are traditional fan favorites like chocolate and vanilla ice cream as well as incredible seasonal offerings like coconut and violet sorbet or pumpkin and mandarin sorbet.
You can opt to have your scoops placed in a cone, a cup or a panet. The panet is a brioche that has been sliced in half. The bottom section is then piled high with your ice cream and toppings. Once the lid of the panet is reunited with the bottom half and smooshed together with your sweet filling, the panet gets popped into a panet press (similar to a panini maker). The resulting panet concoction creates a hot on the outside cold on the inside twist on what sort of ends up looking like an ice cream sandwich.
Rocambolesc’s toppings are out of this world. You can opt for anything from caramelized apple to candied lime and orange. Fresh fruit and guava confiture are just a few of the other options available, but it’s tough to stay away from Rocambolesc’s dreamy clouds of cotton candy.
One of the cups we ordered was filled with plain vanilla ice cream, chocolate popping candy and caramel crunch. It was crowned on top with a delicate cloud of cotton candy.
Our other pick was even more whimsical – coconut and violet sorbet topped with violet marshmallows, physalis fruit, stars and, of course, a generous poof of cotton candy.
Rocambolesc Gelateria has four locations in Barcelona, Girona, Platja d’Aro and of course Madrid. In addition to ice cream and sorbet, Rocambolesc also has funky popsicles in crazy configurations (think Girona apple or blood orange combined with mango sorbet) that are in quirky shapes like noses and fingers.
Most people come to Madrid and opt for a photo beside the famous statue of the bear and the strawberry tree in Puerta del Sol. If you opt to hike on over to Rocambolesc, chances are that your memories of Madrid will be far sweeter. As if panets and cotton candy topped ice cream weren’t enough to motivate you, Rocambolesc even offers a cherry strawberry flavored arbutus bear shaped popsicle. Madrid’s calling card since the Middle Ages has been a bear and a strawberry tree, so it makes perfect sense that the fuzzy mascot would pop up on a sweet treat in Spain’s capital city. My only regret is that we weren’t able to make multiple pilgrimmages over to Rocambolesc, so we could taste test more of their delicious desserts. Besides, where else in the world can you Instagram a picture of you eating an iconic piece of European city?
El Corte Inglés, Calle de Serrano, 52
28001 Madrid, Spain
Hours: Sunday Through Thursday 12:30pm to Midnight, Friday and Saturday 12:30pm to 12:30am
Phone: +34 915 76 52 34
Pricing (All in Euros): Ice Cream Cones 3.25€ to 3.75€, Cups of Ice Cream 3.25€ to 4.25€, Cups of Ice Cream with Toppings 3.75€ to 4.75€, Panets 4.95€ *There’s an additional nominal charge for cotton candy clouds on top of ice cream.