Due to spending part of my summer in the south of France, I have been eating ice cream and sorbet pretty much twice a day at the moment (well, wouldn’t you in 40°C heat?! Diet’s on the cards for September, promise…).
I love ice cream anyway and could pretty much eat it constantly (twice a day? Pah. I’ve been known to send off whole tubs of Carte d’Or, Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen-Dazs in one sitting). The main thing for me now, though, is branching out into trying weirder and more wonderful flavours. Just recently I’ve sampled nougat ice cream, lavender ice cream, and poppy ice cream, as well as marvelling at the presence of (but not actually trying) nut ice cream and marshmallow ice cream. (For the record, the nougat ice cream tasted relatively little like nougat, the varieties of lavender ice cream I’ve tried range from the luridly purple to the strictly natural, and the poppy ice cream tasted surprisingly fruity.)
But what of my favourite classic flavours? I have loved stracciatella ever since I first visited Italy at age 12, and mint chocolate chip is another long-standing favourite of mine. Coffee and caramel variants are also weaknesses of mine, but to be honest I’ve not yet met an ice cream I don’t like.
EXCEPT…chocolate. Yep, you heard me right. This stems from a summer holiday as a child where all the meals were included, and so, being eight and five years old at the time, my sister and I did the only thing that any normal child would do: we had chocolate ice cream for dessert every night for two weeks. That about did me for life and even now I would eat chocolate ice cream if given it, but would never deliberately choose it. (Strangely, chocolate-covered ice creams, such as Magnums, are OK – but only those which aren’t chocolate on the inside too.) For this reason, I’m also not that fond of Neapolitan ice cream, despite not having anything specific against the strawberry and vanilla flavours.
In addition, you will never see me eating any ice cream containing banana (I really, really hate banana).
In terms of more ‘modern’ ice cream flavours, Ben and Jerry’s has to be the king here (although I’ve not yet tasted Heston Blumenthal’s famous bacon and egg variant), and I’m very partial to their cookie dough flavour. Many people probably think it’s disgusting, but I just love it for its sweetness, variation in texture, and its combination of two things I love – cookies and ice cream – in one single pot. I’ve not yet spotted their Cake Batter flavour, but suspect I would adore it for the same reasons. Ben and Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake flavour is also highly palatable, and in spite of the saccharine variety of flavours, it’s actually (believe it or not) very good quality ice cream: while many other manufacturers (Carte d’Or and Nestlé to name but a few) are known to pump loads of air into their ice cream so that you get as little as 500g of ice cream per litre, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream comes from milk and cream from family farms, uses Fairtrade ingredients, and is certainly not pimped using extra air. (Remember to always check the bottom of the pack! The gram and millilitre content is always clearly listed and the closer the numbers are to each other, the better.)
So all that remains, it seems, is flavours I’d like to try but haven’t yet. I’ve already listed a few above in my paragraph of Ben and Jerry’s worship. And luckily, thanks to spending part of my summer in an artisanal ice cream and sorbet hotspot (the Ardèche region of France is full of small firms making their own premium ices), there’s probably some out there that I haven’t even thought of yet. But I also have a few ideas of my own. For instance, I have a recipe for pine nut ice cream I’ve never used (husband needs to buy me an ice cream maker, hint). I’ve also heard of yam and coconut ice cream being sold in Singapore that sounds strangely appealing. Los Angeles (perhaps unsurprisingly) seems to have a wide variety of wacky ice cream bars, serving flavours like coffee and Guinness and chocolate & wasabi, which I’d do a lot to get my furry little mitts on. And, of course, there’s a raft of mileage in fresh herbs and spices…basil ice cream, rosemary ice cream, cardamom and ginger ice cream…
JESUS I really need an ice cream maker.