There was almost always ice cream in the refrigerator while I was growing up and it was always a welcome treat. All of us liked it…on that we could agree. What my brother and I could not agree on was what flavor of ice cream was the best. My brother championed chocolate. For me, it was strawberry all the way. I realize that this difference of opinion is about as important as who gets which side of the back seat of the car (and that ongoing discussion was a whole story in itself) but be assured that the two of argued about it often enough that my poor mother sought a respite by buying something called Neapolitan ice cream. If you’re unfamiliar with this “flavor” of ice cream, it’s chocolate, vanilla and strawberry layered side by side. My father would sometimes volunteer the opinion that Neapolitan was ice cream “that can’t make up its mind.” He also ventured to suggest that the whole point of such a thing was that one could have a sampling of all three flavors in one bowl or even in one spoon. Of course my brother and I knew the truth. The genius of the side-by-side format of Neapolitan lay in its ability to provide each person with her or his favorite. The physical evidence of our mutual conviction was starkly revealed when, on more than one occasion, an adult attached to the household would open the carton only to find a ridge of vanilla rising up from the bottom like a desolate mountain peak abandoned by time and humanity.
Okay. I’ll admit that I’ve already written about ice cream – as have other DCPL bloggers such as in this worthy entry and this one. I can’t help it though. When the weather gets hot, my culinary yearning turns (as in really sharp uey) toward the smooth, the sweet, the cold and I know that I’m not alone. One of my favorite websites, The Kitchn (and yes, I’m spelling that correctly) has been running a feature called “My Favorite Pint” wherein they ask a variety of people about his or her favored ice cream. The results are, as you might imagine, all over the place. Blogger Joy Wilson, otherwise known as Joy the Baker, likes Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Author Rainbow Rowell is partial to Talenti’s Mediterranean Mint Gelato. (Talenti gelato pints come, by the way, in brown-lidded, clear plastic canisters that make, once empty and clean, surprisingly elegant containers for spools of thread and other small crafting supplies). J. J. Johnson, chef at acclaimed Harlem restaurant The Cecil, likes plain vanilla Hagen-Dazs but he likes to add potato chips for, as he puts it, “some extra salty crunch.” And lest we veer too close toward the readily available, pastry chef Dominique Ansel, inventor of that delicious hybrid the Cronut, loves the olive oil gelato from Otto in New York City. The pint costs $13 and you can only buy it from the restaurant but hey, when it comes to ice cream, one’s true love can never be denied.
I’m fortunate enough to own a small electric ice-cream maker and to sometimes have the time to make my own custom treats. However, I buy plenty of ice cream too and I most often find myself purchasing…vanilla! Like your never-fail wardrobe basic, vanilla just seems goes with everything from fresh strawberries to chocolate cake. When I make my own, I’ll either use seasonal fruit or search the internet or books for new ideas. Speaking of ice cream resources, here’s a few from DCPL.
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream is a lovely volume from Laura O’Neill, Ben Van Leeuwen and Pete Van Leeuwen. The trio are the founders of the popular Brooklyn ice creamery whose empire includes a fleet of yellow ice cream trucks in New York and Los Angeles. There are recipes here for vegan ice cream and granitas as well as dairy treats such Ceylon Cinnamon and Blueberry. Or try Lindsay Clendaniel’s Scoop Adventures: the best ice cream of the 50 states for intriguing sounding recipes such as Balsamic Fig and Popcorn as well as a peek inside ice cream parlors across the nation. Finally, check out Recipe of the Week: Ice Cream by Sally Sampson for delicious recipes which really will keep you supplied with a different frozen treat for each week of the year.
If you could invent your own ice cream flavor, what would it be? What’s your current favorite? Just for fun, here’s a quiz, again from The Kitchn, that reveals what your favorite flavor says about you. It is, as the writers admit, “strictly scientific.”