Let's face it: It is HOT this summer. Baking hot. Sometimes, given the choice, we would rather just stay at home and laze out in bed for another hour or three instead of heading out and enjoying all that solar radiation. Besides, even if you do enjoy prolonged doses of solar radiation, you'll probably want to find something to cool down with after a while...which is why we're featuring a gustatory treat most relevant this season. I mean, just look at the title. :)
|Haagen-Dazs meets Starbucks meets Blue Bunny|
After our jaunt to Pancake House, my mom and I proceeded to S&R for a bit of shopping. Amid the folding tables and frame walkers we bought, we also brought home a few pints of ice cream from S&R's admittedly varied lineup.
For this visit, I decided to try a new flavor and an old favorite. I've heard raves about Starbucks Coffee's eponymous line of ice cream, so I grabbed a pint of Caramel Macchiato to see if it tastes anywhere near that infamous sweet blended coffee drink. I also got a tub of Blue Bunny's Double Strawberry premium ice cream. To the best of my knowledge, both of these are only available at S&R. My mom got a pint of Haagen-Dazs' Strawberry ice cream as well.
|When they mean Starbucks ice cream...|
|...they mean it|
|Caramel Macchiato ice cream. Doesn't look like much, but wait till you taste it|
Pleasantly surprising was how Starbucks' ice cream mimicked the nuances of flavor of its namesake blended coffee drink. I thought it was a bad imitation at first, but upon subsequent spoonfuls of the stuff it definitely felt really familiar, as I was a big Caramel Macchiato fan in years past. The coffee flavor of the ice cream melds well with the caramel drizzle taste-wise that despite appearing like separate entities it's very hard to distinguish them apart on your tongue. Deelish. Whatever trickery they've done here, it works quite well.
|"It's so fluffy I'm gonna dieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"|
On we go to the tussle of the strawberry scoops. Blue Bunny and Haagen-Dazs are both premium but they go about it in slightly different ways. Haagen-Dazs is all about the density and richness of the ice cream, evident from just the darker color of the stuff and how heavy it sits on your spoon. Blue Bunny's ice cream on the other hand is much lighter and fluffier - easier to roll into a scoop and jam into a cone. "Double strawberry" refers to the embedded pieces of strawberry (which Haagen-Dazs also has), and the strawberry sauce lacing the tub (which Haagen-Dazs doesn't).
Between these two, my palate prefers Blue Bunny, although Haagen-Dazs isn't very far behind. The latter is more easily purchased, however...
|Lots of Blue Bunny ice cream tubs on sale only at S&R. They have sugar-free and frozen yogurt tubs too|
Finally, Mabie and I got to sample another of Merry Moo's creations from our last visit to Mercato Centrale. They name it "Aztec Chocolate" and we were curious to see how different it was from your usual chocolate ice cream.
|Appropriately enough, the Aztecs invented chocolate|
The interesting thing was, when we asked for "Aztec Chocolate," Arvy the friendly scoop man gave us a little explanation of what this flavor was and what we should be expecting out of it. It's a combination of chili and chocolate, basically. You may remember that Empire's macaroons also promised a similar-tasting product from a previous visit.
|Arvy doing his thing|
Now, for those uninitiated with matters of the pepper, milk and dairy products are a common and effective remedy for washing away the burning, stinging bite of capsaicin - the stuff that makes chili peppers so spicy. Ergo, it initially doesn't make any sense having ice cream that brings on the heat; it should be implausible right?
|The proverbial calm before the storm...|
When Mabie and I dug into the PhP70 scoop, we were surprised. Sure, the initial taste is of pretty good, chocolate ice cream that's slightly on the rich side, but gulping it down releases a flame of heat that can only come from a chili pepper. That said, if you can stomach the spice, the whole experience is delectably smooth and the sensation is akin to drinking shots of a given hard drink. You'll definitely feel it burn evenly down your throat. Mabie had to give up halfway due to the strength of the chili flavor, so I experimented with taking frequent scoops if there would be any difference or "relief" - no such luck. Let's just say this ice cream flavor is a treat for chili lovers; capsaicin-intolerant folk need not apply.
All four of the ice cream flavors we tested here are variations on old trusty favorites which you might want to check out before scoping out more exotic combinations. :)
|So hot, it melts on its own :p|