yum ice cream
December 20, 2004 11:16 PM   Subscribe

Ice cream flavors are not what they used to be. A few years ago, in Nice France, I experienced tasting lavender, and violet flavored ice cream, the wonderful flavors just blew me away. Later on in San Francisco, I found a wonderful Indian ice cream parlor, and fell in love with the cardamom, and rose flavors. When my travels take me back to Japan, I think I will try to avoid some of these incredibly strange ice cream flavors.
posted by thedailygrowl (48 comments total)
The single most alien and unfamiliar flavor I have ever tasted was in a wonderful little restaurant in Helsinki, Finland. When I looked down at the menu, I saw a listing for "pine-tar ice cream with spruce sauce." I assumed it was a typo of some kind, but once my hostess told me the menu was accurate, I had to order it.

When I put the first spoonful into my mouth, my whole body recoiled -- it tasted like a frozen ashtray, concentrated carcinogens a la mode. But then my hostess said, "To a Finn, this tastes like winter in the family cabin in Lapland with everyone sitting around the fire."

I proceeded to eat the rest of it and enjoy it.
posted by digaman at 11:28 PM on December 20, 2004

I love the Interweb.
posted by digaman at 11:31 PM on December 20, 2004

Mental note to try the pine-tar ice cream if I'm ever in Finland. Sounds like the spruce beer I miss from Québec. (No link on spruce beer, because the ones I found either say that it's alcoholic, which it isn't, or that it's gross, which indicates that they're philistines.)
posted by ramakrishna at 12:14 AM on December 21, 2004

During one really hot day in Tokyo I saw a tiny snack stand serving soft-serve ice cream. I couldn't read the flavors, but one of them was purple, and I figured, what the hell, purple is usually good. I pointed to it, paid, and brought to my taste buds one of the most bitter flavors imaginable. I have no idea what it was, but it was incredibly aweful, one of the most wholly (and possible holy) non-refreshing experiences of my life. Truly aweful.

I thanked the gentleman behind the counter, rounded the corner, and promptly tossed the cone in the garbage can.
posted by deafmute at 12:32 AM on December 21, 2004

The oddest ice cream I've ever had was from a stand in a half-abandoned amusement park in Ulan Baatar, Mongolia. I'd seen the ferris wheels from far away, and they looked so dingy I expected the park to be closed; but up close, there were teenagers on dates, kids buying balloons, bums sleeping in the grass with their feet propped on benches (then: policemen kicking them awake). I rode a pedal-it-yourself rollercoaster on a single track 8 feet off the ground that lurched dangerously to one side if you weren't very careful.

I was on one of those absurdly acetic backpacker budgets, but splurged for packaged ice cream shaped like a cellphone. The first bite was eye-squinchingly sour. I'd somehow managed to buy airag ice cream, made of fermented mare's milk (& a traditional alcoholic drink served with flecks of dust floating in it, and sold everywhere at train stations in reused plastic bottles).
posted by soviet sleepover at 1:20 AM on December 21, 2004

Japan's more popular unconventional ice cream flavors are rather tasty. Green tea and red bean ice cream both turn out quite well.

Of course, in a culture where they'll try to market and sell anything at least once, things happen. Things like Ox Tongue ice cream happen.

Yet, I have this urge to try it. Even if my gravestone reads "Shouldn't have tried the Ox Tongue ice cream", I'm going to eat that stuff someday. Who's with me?
posted by Saydur at 1:22 AM on December 21, 2004

I am, Saydur.
posted by greasepig at 1:39 AM on December 21, 2004

I never realized violet, rose and lavender were common flavors. I recently received some chocolates from a relative who lives in France, and the flavors were violet, rose, lavender and cherry. Quite delicious! I'd love to try them as ice cream.

As for the Ox Tongue ice cream... I'm willing to give it a shot, though I suspect that I wouldn't eat it twice unless I lost a bet.
posted by mosch at 1:54 AM on December 21, 2004

I recently heard a chef discussing the appeal of non-dessert ice-cream. He considered it an experiment in psychology (ie the expectation of biting into something sweet juxtaposed against the with the physical experience of tasting savoury) as well as a way to introduce new textures and sensations to the dining experience. Mind you, he was also looking for a biochemistry student to do PhD work in the lab associated with his restaurant...
Dioxin soup, anybody?
posted by MadOwl at 2:32 AM on December 21, 2004

Japan's more popular unconventional ice cream flavors are rather tasty. Green tea and red bean ice cream both turn out quite well.

I wasn't a huge fan of the wasabi though.
posted by fshgrl at 2:34 AM on December 21, 2004

I had sweet potato soft serve ice cream in Japan recently and it was amazingly good.
posted by ejoey at 2:35 AM on December 21, 2004

Horse flavoured ice cream.

...although the Japanese spent more than £1.5bn on ice-cream and sorbets last year, the country ranks only 19th in world consumption.

No wonder!
posted by taz at 2:43 AM on December 21, 2004

also a great place in san francisco for odd ice cream: Mitchell's Ice Cream on Guerrero. They have such classic flavors as Ube (a filipino yam), Macapuno (various types of coconut and the previously mentioned yam (which actually seems to be pretty close to poi, perhaps)), and Avocado.

And i know the place you're talking about, thedailygrowl.... Bombay Ice Creamery, right? They also have a sister store farther out on Valencia (27th maybe?) that is an Indian pizza joint. The lamb, tandoori chicken, prawn and eggplant pizza is not to be missed.
posted by dj_fraudulent at 3:07 AM on December 21, 2004

How about this then?

Christmas Dinner Ice Cream

"Turkey, sprout, sage and onion stuffing, mashed potato" - ick?

(Note that the article, although Christmas-related, is from last year... )
posted by Chunder at 3:16 AM on December 21, 2004

La Casa Gelato in Vancouver (warning, bad flash) offers ~200 flavours at any given time, cycling regularly, and these always go from standard to interesting to downright scary. I've personally enjoyed the garlic ice cream, the curry, the chocolate chili, the pear & bleu cheese, the balsamic vinegar, the JD & seville orange, and more.

Last time I was there, they had pine mushroom gelato.
posted by mek at 3:18 AM on December 21, 2004

The Japanese make some damn strange ice cream flavors, but one of the best damn ice cream flavors period is maccha, or green tea ice cream. Similar to vanilla but with a different tang.
posted by zardoz at 3:22 AM on December 21, 2004

green tea ice cream is the best flavor ever
posted by kamylyon at 4:58 AM on December 21, 2004

I went to that famous place in Nice too and had the lavender, tomato and violet ice creams. I love the smell of lavender and violets but they were sort of nasty as ice cream. Tomato was meh. But that place had hands down the best mint ice cream in the universe.

I once got all fancy with an ice cream maker and tried to make ice cream with thyme and lemon, but while the taste was good, I never could get the texture right with that machine so went back to Ben and Jerry's NY Super Fudge Chunk.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:04 AM on December 21, 2004

Durian ice cream was a bit of a disappointment. It sounded like it would be a heroic challenge beforehand. Turned out to be just pleasant and mild.
posted by gimonca at 5:27 AM on December 21, 2004

Cookies and cream.

Better recognise.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:35 AM on December 21, 2004

Can Crunchy Frog ice cream be far behind?
posted by kamus at 5:56 AM on December 21, 2004

I make ice cream now and then...once experimented and made hot pepper (serrano) ice cream...it was delicious.

/make hot pepper jelly all the time.
posted by 1016 at 6:21 AM on December 21, 2004

There's a local ice cream store in my parts that has been selling cucumber ice cream in the summers. I'm given sour faces and grimaces each time I mention how good it is. A nice light yet crisp melon-like flavor that contrasts perfectly with chocolate sprinkles. It's very refreshing and tastes nothing like a salad.
posted by Constant Reader at 6:29 AM on December 21, 2004

Just give me Neopolitan for christ sake.
posted by asianmack at 6:41 AM on December 21, 2004

There's a dinky-looking store in Brooklyn that carries handmade Guinness ice cream. I almost want to be buried in front.
posted by casarkos at 6:52 AM on December 21, 2004

not quite ice cream but frozen daquiris are delicious and super easy to make. frozen drinks in general are my addiction (well not so much anymore since it is freezing outside).

when i was living in San Diego, i had an ice cream maker and every morning/afternoon i would squeeze fresh orange juice and then proceed to pour that sweet nectar into my ice cream maker until it got all nice and slushy, added a little fresh lime juice and a healthy shake from a premium top shelf vodka bottle.
posted by hpsell at 6:56 AM on December 21, 2004

It's rumored that you can get lox ice cream in Queens, NY.
posted by of strange foe at 7:02 AM on December 21, 2004

The best ice cream shop in NYC, and possibly the world. Nothing too exotic, but, man, is it delicious.
posted by jonmc at 7:14 AM on December 21, 2004

A few years ago, a friend of mine was traveling in Mexico and stopped at an ice-cream stand. He spoke no Spanish, but was attracted to the sight of a bright yellow ice cream, which appeared to be some sort of tropical fruit. He ordered a cone, took a bite, and spat it out.

posted by barjo at 7:14 AM on December 21, 2004

I'll try and enjoy many flavors of ice cream. They all have their charms. But the Platonic Ideal of Ice Cream is and will always remain vanilla. Made with milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and NOTHING ELSE. So-called "French" vanilla made with eggs is an abomination before the lord.

I am sickened looking at the ingredients in many ice creams. The worst must have been some ice cream I saw in a supermarket in England... there were no dairy products in it at all! How can you make ice cream without dairy products!
posted by Justinian at 7:38 AM on December 21, 2004

Bah. You want odd flavors? Get it on April Fool's Day. I'd like a scoop of buffalo wing, please.
posted by plinth at 7:49 AM on December 21, 2004

There's an ice cream shop with over 700 flavors in South America. They have, for instance, shredded beef ice cream, fish ice cream, etc. I used to have an article about it but google's failing me. Oh, I found the link, but it no longer exists.
posted by kenko at 8:18 AM on December 21, 2004

Pine tar ice-cream in Helsinki? Mare's milk ice-cream in Ulan Baatar? Man, I'm jealous.

The city of Baroda in Gujarat, India has wonderful ice cream. It's been a few years, so I don't remember the names of any shops in particular. I love kesar pista and gulabo, but the best flavor I had in Baroda was orange--it had juicy bits of fruit in it. SO refreshing and sweet.
posted by apis mellifera at 8:20 AM on December 21, 2004

I realize this isn't incredibly exotic, but in Spain I had ice cream with turron in it. It was fantastic.
posted by O9scar at 8:20 AM on December 21, 2004

I used to worship at the altar of ice cream, but now I am hopelessly devoted to frozen custard. No fancy flavors, and available, it seems, mostly in the midwest, but so good it makes me want to cry.
posted by sugarfish at 8:39 AM on December 21, 2004

I promise I will never, never make that "beef ice cream" joke again.

Somehow it just won't be the same knowing that it really exists.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 8:47 AM on December 21, 2004

Aged balsamic vinegar over vanilla ice cream is divine. (Don't try it with your everyday salad balsamic, though. Nasty.)

A Philipino grocery near me offers cheddar cheese ice cream. Haven't tried it yet, but I imagine the sweet-salty juxtaposition isn't bad.
posted by me3dia at 8:58 AM on December 21, 2004

now I am hopelessly devoted to frozen custard. No fancy flavors, and available, it seems, mostly in the midwest

I assume you're talking about Culver's? We're lucky enough to have them in Texas too ...

Also check the Custard List.
posted by fourstar at 9:06 AM on December 21, 2004

Never underestimate the allure of the ice cream hot dog.
posted by meehawl at 10:04 AM on December 21, 2004

ice cream hot dog? wasn't that Marge Simpson's special dessert in this season's premiere?

Bombay Creamery is excellent. good chaat, too, although it's not as cheap as it used to be. their Green Tea ice cream is excellent--my favorites are the mango, lychee, and the cardamom. Mitchell's is excellent (if you can deal with the eternal line), but since we're pimping local ice-cream spots, i'll say that Joe's Ice Cream on Geary/18th Ave. is great too. good pumpkin.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:31 AM on December 21, 2004

Shrimp ice cream? Wasabi ice cream? No thank you!

Cinnamon ice cream, however, rocks. I would love to try violet ice cream.

And I loooooove Culvers. : )
posted by SisterHavana at 11:33 AM on December 21, 2004

Cinnamon ice cream, however, rocks.

I will never forget the day I wanted a milkshake from a gourmet ice cream parlor that sold cinnamon ice cream.

Faint of Butt: A large cinnamon milkshake, please.
Ice Cream Guy: [Strange look] Are you sure?
FoB: Er... yes, please.
ICG: Okaaaaay...

It was delicious, but I've never had my ice cream preferences questioned so blatantly.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:40 AM on December 21, 2004

Also, I'll chime in in support of matcha/green tea flavor, but there's nothing quite so dismaying as biting into red bean ice cream when you're expecting chocolate chip.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:49 AM on December 21, 2004

If you ever find yourself in Florence, at Vivoli's, order the rice ice cream. Just do it. I did it once a day for a week.

This topic can't pass into the Void without a mention of Berthillon, the best ice cream in Paris.

This is how things are at Berthillon. You successfully avoid all the bullshit imitations of Berthillon that are arrayed all over the city. You eschew eating Berthillon ice cream at anywhere but the headquarters itself on the Ile St Louis (for the same reasons that NY bagels must be eaten in the shop bearing the brand name of the bagel). You get lost, ask directions -- the question is greeting with disdain and a sigh -- and you find the shop. How could you have missed it? There are 20 people waiting in line outside.

The person doing the scooping is a young French dickwad with an attitude, cute if you're lucky. You peruse the flavors: hmm... Fraises de Bois (wild Alpine strawberries), Caramel au Gingembre (caramel with ginger), hmmmmm.... You wait, and wait, and wait. Finally, you arrive at the window. And you choose one or two flavors.

The teenager with the scoop impatiently puts two tiny scoops in your dish. Mon Dieu! You have been ripped off. The scoops are an inch and a half across. Surely Parisians get bigger scoops? But they don't.

Then you taste, and you realize that demanding bigger scoops would have been like contriving to get that fourth orgasm. Three is sufficient.

You are in Heaven, and you are in Paris.
posted by digaman at 12:01 PM on December 21, 2004

I was researching horseradish just the other day, and came across the Horseradish Information Council. This place has to have one of the creepiest mascots I have ever seen. I think they were trying for a Secret Agent theme, but it comes off as a pervert, offering his secret sauce:


Anyway I checked out their recipes section, and they seem to have searched the internets and collected every recipe they can find that mentions horseradish, many of them being regrettable foods from the 50s to 70s. I was shocked on seeing their Horseradish Ice Cream with Red Tomato Vinaigrette, but then when I read the recipe I saw that it did not include sugar and was just an interesting variant on common cream-cheese & horseradish balls.

Does any one know if the Mainichi Wasabi Ice Cream, and other varieties are sugared?
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 1:33 PM on December 21, 2004

With all due respect, digaman, I wasn't too impressed with Vivoli's rice ice cream. But your description of Berthillon makes me want to book a ticket to Paris RIGHT NOW.
posted by of strange foe at 1:38 PM on December 21, 2004

my favorite ice cream flavor isn't exotic at all in the vancouver area, where i was born, but i can't find it for the life of me in california. tiger tail: orange and black licorice flavored ice cream swirled together. i managed to find black licorice ice cream in eugene oregon a while back, but i still haven't found the combination of the two anywhere else on the west coast.
posted by cathodeheart at 3:16 PM on December 21, 2004

Once again, I am reminded of how strongly it sucks to be lactose intolerant.
posted by Dreama at 1:03 AM on December 22, 2004

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