Apparently goats can get so excited at meal time that they cause themselves to faint, an experience I can definitely relate to.
I was recently at the Palace Ballroom in Seattle celebrating the release of my friend Amy Pennington's debut cookbook, Urban Pantry, when I caught up with one my favorite food enthusiasts, Eric Tanaka, who's the James Beard Award-winning executive chef and business partner for the Tom Douglas restaurant group. When the conversation turned to ice cream he encouraged me to check out Fainting Goat Gelato, where he and his wife had recently stopped by for dessert after dinner at nearby Joule.
Located on the main commercial drag running through Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood, I was surprised to learn that Fainting Goat had been open for almost a year. Unless you're on foot it can be easy to miss, but anyone with a sweet tooth will appreciate its prime location just blocks away from Trophy Cupcakes and the original Molly Moon's.
Fainting Goat is a true mom-and-pop operation, owned and operated by husband-and-wife Yalcin and Sevim Ataman with help from their three daughters. In addition to gelato and sorbetto, Yalcin and Sevim also celebrate their Turkish heritage with Turkish coffee and baklava available by the slice or the sheetpan.
I stopped in on a quiet afternoon and Yalcin was generous with the samples as I tried flavors like strawberry, stracciatella, banana cream pie, spicy chocolate, hazelnut, and cinnamon—all made with organic sugar and local organic dairy. Each sample was rich on the tongue and tasted naturally of its namesake. I didn't get a chance to try it but Fainting Goat also makes a goat's milk gelato.
While it can't necessarily be billed as healthy, gelato is typically made with milk instead of cream, so the butterfat content is much lower than ice cream. Ice cream, by definition, must have a butterfat content of at least 10%, but premium commercial brands can come in at twice that amount. The lower fat content, and the fact that gelato is typically stored and served at a warmer temperature than ice cream, clears the way for the flavors to really shine through. The richness associated with gelato is due to very little air being introduced in the churning process.
When I order gelato, I often go with a somewhat unusual combination that Maria Coassin, the founder and owner of Gelatiamo in downtown Seattle, shared with me: the sweet-tart set-up of chocolate gelato and lemon sorbetto. With all of the options laid out in front of me I could have kept on sampling but I forced myself to decide, settling on a double scoop of pistachio and Nutella. As I was tucking into the dense, sweet-salty gelato I asked Yalcin about his proximity to Molly Moon's. "She makes great ice cream. We make great gelato. There's plenty of room for both of us," came his answer, quickly dismissing any notion of an ice cream war on 45th Street.
So aside from making a very cool logo, just what is a Fainting Goat? Fainting Goats are known by many other names, including Myotonic Goats, Nervous Goats, Scare Goats, and Tennessee Meat Goats (now there's a name for a restaurant). They possess a condition known as myotonia congenita which causes their muscles to stiffen when scared or excited, resulting in their locking up and collapsing. While vulnerable when temporarily splayed out on the ground like that, they're fully conscious throughout the whole fainting spell. And apparently they can get so excited at meal time that they cause themselves to faint, an experience I can definitely relate to.
Seattle Weekly restaurant critic Jason Sheehan recently wrote about the increasing popularity of restaurants and bars adopting the fainting goat as their namesake, and shared this very entertaining clip of the fainting goat in action.
Fainting Goat Gelato
About the author: Brad Thomas Parsons is a Seattle-based writer who has interviewed many of the food world's biggest names, including David Chang, Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, Danny Meyer, Ina Garten, Jamie Oliver, Paula Deen, and Giada De Laurentiis, among others. He is currently at work on his first book, Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails and Recipes.