Ask the grumpies: Please talk at length about how wonderful gourmet ice creams and related frozen treats are

Leah asks:

What is your take on “gourmet” ice creams? Things like Salt & Straw from Portland, where they put weird combos in. My favorite from them, by the way, is arabequina olive oil. Sea salt and caramel is another example (tho that has gone mainstream). What’s your favorite “weird” flavor?

#1  I find ice cream places in many cities I visit (there are no good places in my town  *sob*.  Not even a Ben and Jerry’s!).  Man, I love ice cream so much.  And gelato.  And fancy flavors.  And all sorts of fun things mixed inside.  I love weird combos and straight combos and all sorts of stuff.  Let’s see though, it’s been a while since I’ve been to a place that offers fancy combos.  Something with rosemary is coming to mind, but I can’t remember what else was in it… I think it was a sorbetto, so something fruity.

I like all sorts of variations on kulfi.  There’s something about cardamom that I just love, whether that’s with pistachios or pecans or whatever else they put in.  I think I’ve had different kinds in Boston, Westwood, and Houston.  I’ve also had variations of rosewater ice cream in a couple different cities.

Salted caramel is definitely mainstream enough to get at the grocery store.  Though I do remember the first time I had it at a gelato shop in the city.  Angels sang in heavenly choirs.

#2:  Ice cream is delicious. Ben & Jerry’s used to make a White Russian that I liked. I’ve had Black Sesame ice cream — it tastes just like sesame seeds but that’s not really what I’m looking for in an ice cream. I don’t like caramel. In general: more ice cream is good. Taste them all. noms.

#1:  I like black sesame.  Especially when there’s still toasted seeds and it crunches.  I don’t think I’d pick it as just one ice cream, but when I get three little scoops in a cup, it might be one of the choices.

Grumpy eaters, opine!

31 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Please talk at length about how wonderful gourmet ice creams and related frozen treats are”

  1. yetanotherpfblog Says:

    Black sesame ice cream is so yummy. I don’t have ice cream anymore (adult onset lactose intolerance), but there’s an okay amount of activity in the vegan ice cream / sorbet space. My favorite right now is getting banana sorbet with this olive-oil based (instead of cream based) chocolate fudge on top. So good.

    Also, as a random side note, I did not realize how much people could like ice cream until I moved to the Northeast. I grew up on the West Coast where it’d make sense for people to like it. It’s warm and therefore frozen treats are even better. But people here eat ice cream even when it’s only like 30-something degrees outside. There’s an impressive commitment to frozen desserts.

  2. Solitary Diner Says:

    Yes, I love gourmet ice creams. My favourites have a really good quality ice cream base (good flavour and texture) with a small amount of high-quality add ins. I think my favourite is probably Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.

  3. Katherine Says:

    I am vegan, so I also don’t eat dairy ice cream. There are some really really good vegan ice creams (I really like Luna and Larry’s) that are coconut-based, but they’re all really expensive so I almost never get them.

    There is a local ice cream shop in my town that supposedly has really fantastic ice cream in interesting flavors, and they always have a sorbet or two (which are good). The best “ice cream” I ever had at a local shop was at a tiny place in Austin that only does vegan flavors – it was cubano (coffee with cinnamon). We bought a pint to take home with us in a cooler (a multi-hour drive). It was cashew-based.

    My MIL bought us an ice cream maker for Christmas, but we’ve only used it once so far – we live in the frozen midwest. I’m really looking forward to lots of homemade cashew-based ice cream this summer!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We love our ice cream maker! We didn’t use it much when we first got it, but now we live in the south and have ice cream eating kids we do a lot more. Pro-tip: use frozen fruits in place of fresh for mix-ins.

  4. Leah Says:

    I love ice cream. It is a favorite treat around our house. There are so many good gourmet flavors these days. Honey lavender is always fun (I once had some lavender gelato that was amazing). I too had a similar moment when I first had sea salt caramel and was amazed at the party in my mouth.

    I’m pretty much game for almost any flavor. Peach ice cream is actually my very favorite (and hard to find). I love sorbet too and vegan ice cream. Frozen treats in general: yes, please!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      mmm peach. We get that around here seasonally from places in the city.

    • Angie Says:

      Amaretto peach is my MIL’s favorite from a local ice cream shop.

    • becca Says:

      I am a big big fan of lavender chocolate bars and teas, so lavender ice cream sounds delightful.

      I really like the whole foods for my go-to sorbetto/gelato. The flavors vary, but I was shocked at how good the basil citrus sorbetto was, and I also really like the key lime. Chocolate variations are NOM too.
      At the regular grocery store, I will mostly default to half-baked when I want a treat.

      The best ice cream I ever had was when I was a kid in the fancy French restaurant my parents took me to for my Mom’s birthday dinner. It was cinnamon, and it must have had an incredibly high fat content and really good quality ingredients, and it is The Standard to which I hold all other ice creams/gelatos. (sorbettos are really a Different Thing and I have a different fancy restaurant standard I hold them to)

  5. chacha1 Says:

    We hardly ever go out for ice cream, but there is nearly always some in our freezer. Usually a gelato from the supermarket. There isn’t a “local” gelato shop in our new neighborhood, and the one in our old neighborhood closed (after 30 years) soon before we moved. They used to do sorbettos as well, including a cabernet sorbet that was the bomb. Favorite gelato flavors there included black cherry, chocolate hazelnut, and wine raisin (like rum raisin only fruitier).

    When straight-up ice cream is on the menu it’s usually Haagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche or Coffee or Strawberry or Belgian Chocolate.

    I am a huge fan of frozen custard but there is only one place in West L.A., that I know of, to get it fresh, and it is not exactly convenient. WOE IS ME. The frozen custard at Shake Shack is atrocious.

    Now I want ice cream.

  6. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    I think I had a black sesame brickle once

  7. omdg Says:

    I love gelato. LOVE. Particularly the fruit flavors. Unfortunately the gelato place near me closed recently, and I’ve had to go to the store that sells pizza ice cream. Fortunately there are other flavors, but blergh on the pizza flavor.

  8. Ana Says:

    Ummmm. love ice cream and cannot have it anymore because of worsening lactose intolerance. I think I cave and have it once every 2 years now :( I love the fancy flavors but sometimes there is nothing like a good old bright green mint chocolate chip in a sugar cone.

  9. Leigh Says:

    I am a big chocolate gelato/ice cream fan, but strawberry is also incredible when you find a good one. And caramel. Nutella. Hazelnut. Brownies. Cookies and cream. Cookie dough. Peanut butter chocolate chip. All good! We spent so much time in Italy wandering between gelato places. Looking at the current Salt & Straw flavors, I would like to try: sticky honey croissant with french vanilla and maple peanut butter brioche french toast.

  10. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    Santa Cruz is fortunate in having 4 different ice-cream makers, plus several restaurants make their own. I’m not that fond of Marianne’s (which has been in business since 1947), nor Polar Bear, but Mission Hill and Penny Ice Creamery both have top-notch ice creams, often including fruits or herbs from local farms. I couldn’t choose a favorite out of their extensive, ever-changing selection.

    When I have to buy ice-cream in the store, I generally get either Ben and Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie or Talenti’s mango gelato.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We tried two of them when we were there! The one in the candy shop wasn’t as good as the one nearby IIRC.

      • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

        The candy shop (Marini’s) serves Marianne’s ice cream, if I recall correctly. If you go to Marini’s, it is the salt water taffy that they are famous for.

        Both Penny Ice Creamery and Mission Hill are nearby, and make their own premium ice creams. When we have ice cream as a treat downtown we go to one of them.

      • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

        It seems I was wrong—apparently Marini’s started making their own ice cream some time ago, as well as selling Polar Bear (a local commercial ice cream maker, recently purchased by the owners of Marianne’s). I’ve not been to Marini’s in a while, so I don’t know their current mix of brands. So it seems that we have at least 5 ice cream makers in town, though Marini’s is still better known as a candy maker (as they have been since 1915—and the stores are still run by the same family).

  11. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    We get a whole lot of gourmet ice creams here and I fail to appreciate them all appropriately – I don’t want it badly enough to take on driving into the city for it! But Mitchell’s makes some heavenly coconut ice cream and I don’t even LIKE coconut.

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