Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Flavors: Ben & Jerry’s Class of 2007

To ring in the new year, I will review some of the most notable ice cream flavors to premier in grocery stores in 2007, starting with Ben & Jerry's.

Cinnamon Buns - This flavor is good. Of the few people I know who have tasted all the new flavors, this has always ranked as their favorite, possibly because of its brilliant simplicity in taste and concept. (I have only experienced one other flavor modeled after this breakfast treat--at Lickety Split in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Theirs was even better because it included pecans!) Though good, this Ben & Jerry’s creation is not as good as the two flavors it seems to fuse: Oatmeal Cookie Chunk and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, if you subtracted the chocolate chunks and added more cinnamon to the vanilla-base.

Crème Brulee - I remember thinking when I had Häagen-Dazs’ Crème Brulee a few years ago that it was good, but I never needed to have it again. Same thing with the Ben & Jerry’s incarnation, only B&J’s has more of the burnt sugar crunch. What I miss in ice cream versions of Crème Brulee is the gooeiness. I’m not sure super premium ice cream can accomplish both the richness and the lightness of custard.

Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler – Put simply, I am not a fan of peach-flavoring. After trying this, I stand my ground. I find, in ice cream, that fruit flavors taste too diluted for me, with the exception of berry flavors. I usually get my frozen fruit fix with gelato or sorbet (or I go acoustic and eat fruit).

Mint Chocolate Chunk – Do not expect mint cookies and cream; the ice cream is much mintier than it is creamy. The mintiness also overpowers the chocolate flavor. I prefer mint chocolate chip, especially if the ice cream is green.

Also new this year are Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream, Banana Split, and several flavors now available as a “Lighten Up” product line.

Monday, December 24, 2007

"Almond" the other reindeer?

Gelatiamo, the finest gelato establishment in Seattle, has caused me great confusion. My favorite flavor, Almond, has not been seen for nearly a year. When I asked about the flavor's disappearance, I was told that Almond is a seasonal flavor. (If you can explain to me what makes Almond a seasonal flavor, you will have cured me of great existential trauma.) It would seem the only nut one might call seasonal would be the chestnut, but that seems a bit of a stretch.

There are many seasonal flavors that appear during the year. Ben & Jerry's made Festivus ice cream for a little while, a gingerbread ice cream to celebrate the Seinfeld holiday that inspired the flavor. Also available annually from various distributors are peppermint and candy cane (two distinctly different flavors), egg nog, and other varieties of gingerbread. I indulged in an apple cider sorbet at Purple
in downtown Seattle. I've never seen a fruitcake ice cream, but don't deny that it probably exists somewhere.

Outside of ice cream, other seasonal offerings have also become staples. Cheesecake Factory has its annual pumpkin pecan cheesecake, which is half Cheesecake Factory's famous pumpkin cheesecake and half pecan pie. Jones Soda makes seasonal sodas for Valentine's Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. This all began with their now famous Turkey and Gravy soda. I have only had the privilege of tasting Jones' Seattle Seahawks-themed soda for this year's football season. Flavors included Sweat, Field Turf, Dirt, and Sports Cream. The theory was to be a true Seahawks fan one must endure each of the above flavors to reach the final flavor: Sweet Victory. The people at Jones are not just being cute when they name these flavors; they actually develop special flavors to match the names, including Sweat. Blech.

All of this being said, what is your favorite seasonal flavor? (Is it spumoni? It's spumoni, isn't it?) Anyone who knows me knows pumpkin is my favorite. Speaking of which, my sweet mother has made a pumpkin cream cheese roll with my name on it...

Please join me in requesting Almond anytime you go to Gelatiamo. Your participation is appreciated.