Friday, October 31, 2008

The Milk of a Cow, The Grease of a Pig…

Bacon ice cream. Yes, you read that correctly. But for more gut-wrenching horror***, read on.

To most citizens of Planet Earth, this flavor sounds like something of nightmares, something a witch would come up with, terrifying children before throwing them in her boiling cauldron. But there are other members of our species that think this is a great idea. I work with some folks who are of this breed. (This is their Bible, or Necronomicon, or whatever, which hangs on one of the refrigerators at my workplace.)

It seems bacon culture is large enough that David Lebowitx, inventor of candied bacon ice cream, is not the only one experimenting with the sweet possibilities of pork bellies. There is a company, Vosges, who manufacture chocolate with bacon in it. For those gourmets out there, I found a recipe.

Happy Halloween!

***You know what’s even more horrible? Not voting in the upcoming election! Please encourage those around you to vote. Can we do that? Yes, we can!

Note from 2012:This entry is a bit dated. Today, mixing bacon with pretty much anything is being considered haute cuisine. I've eaten and enjoyed Mo's Dark Bacon Bar by Vosges, but, even after trying several varieties, I am yet to actually enjoy bacon in any frozen product.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Voting with Dollars!***

On this blog I have discussed many hot button issues: discontinued ice cream flavors, new ice cream flavors, limited edition ice cream flavors, and "ice cream ethics". And with campaign season in full gear, I can’t help but think that there is a lesson to be learned.

To oversimplify (as I do with any subject inferior to that of ice cream): What powers a country is its economy. What powers the economy is the exchange of money. It is our duty as Americans to purchase products we value, spending our money (compensation for our own hard work) on what we most value. If you support small business politics, support small businesses. It can be more expensive than big box stores, but choosing the best bargain speaks much louder than what your vote might say. If you are pro-human rights, make an effort to not buy sweatshop products. once again, more expensive, but where you spend your money is the true story of your political stance.

That being said, the past twelve months have seen the passing of some ice cream greats once available in the grocery store:

Some of you have not been doing your part to move the economy in the most meaningful way: the purchase of ice cream. And if you're not buying it in the grocery stores, I worry you're not going out to your local scoop shops either! After you vote next week, reward yourself by spending your hard-earned money on a fine ice cream product. And for those of you who might be concerned, buying Häagen-Dazs is buying American.

***In all seriousness, wouldn't it be sweet if we had a President we could be proud of? A President that would redeem America's reputation in much of the world? Put your money where your mouth is: Give to Obama's Campaign. Your gift will be matched, doubling its impact!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ice cream is not punk.

Mike B. from roundabout our nation’s capitol* brought to my attention the band Fugazi’s DVD Instrument in which the vocalist Ian MacKaye (formerly of Minor Threat) becomes irritated during a show when some fans start a fight. To drive the point that fighting is unwelcome at their shows, he and another band member challenge how tough the fighters are with the following rant:

“I saw you two guys earlier at the Good Humor truck and you were eating your ice cream like little boys and I thought those guys aren’t so tough. They’re eating ice cream. What a buncha swell guys…Oh, you’re bad now, you’re bad now, but you were eating ice cream cone…Ice cream eating motherf*****. That’s what you are.”

Clearly, in the mind of Fugazi, ice cream is neither tough nor punk. Since then, I have been hyper-aware of songs mentioning ice cream and it really gets a bad rap from musicians:

Rivers Cuomo of Weezer concurs that eating ice cream is not the path of rebellious youth in “Troublemaker.” He says, “Movies are bad as eating chocolate ice cream.”

Sarah McLaughlin has the audacity to claim that she holds someone she loves in higher regard than ice cream. I find very hard to believe any person could be superior to ice cream. (Think about it: Ice cream will never hurt you, cheat on you, leave you. Ice cream is always there when you want it. Ice cream doesn’t mind if you’ve had a bad day and don’t feel like talking. Heck, ice cream doesn’t mind if you stab it with a spoon.)

Tori Amos shares this lack of respect. Her song “Spark” references an “ice cream assassin,” which to me suggests that death by ice cream is undesirable. Why not “ice cream euthanizer,” Tori?

Both the Wu Tang Clan and 50 Cent have songs called “Ice Cream,” Master P has one called “Mr. Ice Cream Man,” and much like the crooning and croaking of David Lee Roth and Tom Waits, respectively, I get the feeling they are not talking about ice cream.

Nirvana’s “Sliver” recounts childhood memories of going to grandma’s house and eating ice cream for dinner. Not a bad entrée, grandma! Still, in this dream world, the narrator pleads to be taken home (to his parents’ house). Absolutely nuts if you ask me.

As for Mike B., I do not know his stance on ice cream, but his band
Swagger & Skank has much amity for Stewart’s Soda, who happens to make one of favorite sodas, Key Lime.

*Speaking of our nation’s capitol, a very important election is coming up. If you've decided you’re voting for Obama and want to work for the campaign, Travel for Change (an organization separate from Obama’s campaign) is offering to fly interested parties to swing states to help win the vote. If you can’t go, you can donate your frequent flyer miles.

Note from 2012: Later in Chicago, Mike B. became the bass player for my band

Monday, October 13, 2008

Field Report: Tasmania, Australia

My new friend Emma has not only shared chocolate with me but has also written a Field Report. She told me she would happily review Tasmanian ice cream, but that the best homemade ice cream in Tasmania actually comes from her kitchen! Without further ado, the blog’s second international* Field Report, this time from the island of Tasmania:

The best place for ice cream in Hobart (capital of Tasmania) is Mures, though I think this is more because of the location—by the water at the docks—than the ice cream itself! The more adventurous flavours are liquorish and bubblegum but the BEST are bacio gelati (creamy chocolatey hazelnut goodness) and classic Blue Ribbon Vanilla. Blue Ribbon vanilla is made with buttermilk so it has a unique flavour. Vanilla is not always a boring choice!

If you are up for a road trip, Kate's Berry Farm
is a must. They pick their own berries and make their own ice cream and there are fields of strawberries to prove it. A sampler of every single flavour shared between two will leave even those with the most insatiable appetites satisfied.

If you are traveling even further, Andy's Gelato in Westbury (population 1,300) is superior to both Mures and Kate's Berry Farm. Their hazelnut and pistachio gelato—I'm a sucker for nuts!—rival even those I've tasted in Venice! I have no idea how the shop keeps running in such a small town. I can only assume every single member of the township is a regular!

*Back in America, a very important election is coming up. If you've decided you’re voting for Obama and want to work for the campaign, Travel for Change (an organization separate from Obama’s campaign) is offering to fly interested parties to swing states to help win the vote. If you can’t go, you can donate your frequent flyer miles.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Role of Animals in Dessert Culture

It's easy to make an impression on me. Most recently, an Australian woman I met honored me with some chocolate from her country. This is exciting enough—since I knew chocolate, even with the brand names known in America, process their chocolate differently—but would you believe it was shaped like a koala! A Caramel Koala to be exact!

What is the appeal of animals that they are frequently used to sell us desserts? Moose Tracks ice cream (which is peanut butter cup ice cream that is sadly vanilla-based instead of chocolate-based). Ice cream bars shaped like the face of a famous mouse, with gumballs for eyes. Chocolate reindeer and bunnies during holidays. Animal crackers, Teddy Grahams. Gummy bears, which aren’t quite as tasty as gummy sharks, which do not hold the classic appeal of the texturally accurate childhood favorite of mine: gummy worms.

Mascots are one thing, but actually devising a mascot that is meant to be devoured is quite the oddity. I suppose Christians have done it for years with communion rites. (Before you lambast me, know that I just making a little joke from the inside, not a mockery from the outside.) Being from the South the practice is not too uncommon for me, having grown up going to barbecue joints whose décor is entirely composed of happy, smiling, sometimes dancing(!) pigs. There are likenesses of pigs dining on roast ham or bacon, ignorant of the many names that exist for their cooked flesh.

What say ye? Is it weird to eat the mascot? And what animal would most easily persuade you to buy a food product?

Speaking of themed desserts, sometimes designer chocolates have fancy designs on them. I recently saw one with a likeness of Obama on it. It was next to some truffles shaped like donkeys and elephants. No foolin’.

***If you've decided you’re voting for Obama and want to work for the campaign, Travel for Change
(an organization separate from Obama’s campaign) is offering to fly interested parties to swing states to help win the vote. If you can’t go, you can donate your frequent flyer miles.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Rita’s, one of my favorite chains, serves water ice, frozen custard and, the less popular, pretzels. Today, they began offering a new product. Just in time for International Brad Brubaker Day!

They already had the know-how to combine their two most popular products, ice and custard. In fact they do so in a variety of scientific ways. Their Gelati, a layer of custard with ice and topped off with more custard, is a scientific mixture, which means the individual parts are not chemically bonded and can therefore be separated. Their Blendini ™, however, mixes their custard and ice into a solution, meaning the parts cannot be separated without a chemical change. The Blendini also features a mix-in of Oreos or Necco Wafers.

But new scientific developments at Rita’s have created something even more fulfilling than my rehash of what I remember from middle school science class. Rita’s has added their pretzels to the mix. One can now order a Rita’s Blendini ™ with pretzels as a mix-in.

Note from 2012: I remember how excited I was to have a chewy pretzel in my dessert. The warm pretzels always won the "which one is not like the others?" game at Rita's. But, alas, the pretzels offered as a mix-in were the crunchy bagged variety. Still good, but not what I dreamed in this post.