Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bobtail Year 2: Spooky Crunch

October was the fifth month of Bobtail Year 2, during which I receive two pints of homemade ice cream a month from Bobtail.

• • •

Obviously, I enjoy Bobtail's ice cream, but I have to admit their annual pumpkin flavor isn't pumpkin-y enough for me. I taste all of the pumpkin spices, but not enough of the gourd. I decided to give it another try when I learned roundabout Halloween that their featured flavor, Spooky Crunch, was pumpkin ice cream with caramel, cookie dough and sprinkles.

A few bites in I knew I enjoyed what I was eating even though it didn't taste at all like it's given ingredients. For the base, I tasted cream and cinnamon, topped with more cinnamon. As for the mix-ins, the cookie dough was inspired, the sprinkles added a rough texture and the caramel was probably there. But if I silenced my expectations I noticed the flavor tasted suspiciously (spookily, even) similar to Ben & Jerry's twice discontinued cult-favorite, Oatmeal Cookie Chunk. It wasn't a dead ringer, but enough to make me realize that Spooky Crunch only needs a few slight adjustments to be a new favorite. Simply switch out the sprinkles for teeny-tiny chocolate chips (not Bobtail's somewhat overused chocolate flakes), add a little more cookie dough, let up a little on the cinnamon and drop the other pumpkin spices.

I'm not suggesting Bobtail mimic Ben & Jerry's, but rather that they cash in on an opportunity to improve a one-off Halloween-inspired flavor while also making it into a unique year-round flavor inspired by a classic dessert. Seriously, Bobtail, do it! The loud voice of geek populism demands it! TV: Firefly :: Ice Cream : Oatmeal Cookie Chunk.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bobtail Year 2: Salted Caramel Pecan

September was the fourth month of Bobtail Year 2, during which I receive two pints of homemade ice cream a month from Bobtail.

• • •

The best two salted caramel flavors I've had were Morelli's in Atlanta and Steve's, based in Brooklyn but available in many grocery stores. For the most part, salted caramel in general is a trend I don't understand. In my eyes, chocolate-covered pretzels are the perfect representation of the salty/sweet combination. Caramel, on the other hand, is an art few have mastered in its nascent form; and with good caramel being a delicacy that is rarely found, it seems presumptuous that chefs dive into altering it. And why add salt at all unless the purpose is to create a new flavor that seems more than the sum of its parts (as with Morelli's)? With these scatter shot observations, I knew Bobtail would have a tough time convincing me with their regularly-available flavor Salted Caramel Pecan.

But it's so good.

The salt is barely detectable, light enough to make the cream base taste like Butter Pecan. The caramel adds a hint of sweetness to cut through the buttery tasting base. Pecans make pretty much anything better and there are tons of them! In short, Bobtail's Salted Caramel Pecan is Butter Pecan with caramel. The flavor is good enough as is, but if they felt like experimenting they'd only need to trade in honey roasted pecans to make it Pecan Praline ice cream. I'll have a scoop of each please.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Bobtail Year 2: Apple Crêpe


August was the third month of Bobtail Year 2, during which I receive two pints of homemade ice cream a month from Bobtail.

• • •

Apple Crêpe ice cream is apples in a cream cheese ice cream. Sounds like apple cheesecake, right? That’s what I thought, but the flavor isn’t as heavy. But with no pastry mixed in, can it actually be described as being crêpe-flavored?

The answer is yes and no. The flavor suggests many of the things crêpes also suggest. For example, crêpes are light, yet dense; when eating crêpes at home, it is easy to eat a large quantity, only to realize later that they were not as light as they seemed. Also, crepes have a touch of sour that highlights the dominant flavors; in crepes the sourness comes from lemon, while in this ice cream it comes from the cream cheese base.

But it is hard to make apples work in an ice cream flavor. Apple-flavored ice cream bases often taste both artificial and gross. And apples as mix-ins seem texturally strange, being neither crunchy (like a fresh apple), nor firm and chewy (liked baked or fried apples). The mix-ins in this flavor are icy and frozen, yet soft enough to bite through. (This could possibly be the result of Bobtail choosing the natural route with their flavors.) I’m happy to say that this typically undesirable texture, somehow works in the nuanced ice cream base.

Though named “crêpe,” the base reminds me of the vanilla sauce that was served with the apple strudel I ate in Berlin. The sauce, a staple in Germany, is lighter than custard, but not airy like whipped cream. It is rich, yet subtle. Similarly, the cream cheese ice cream that enrobes the frozen apples is both dense and light. It offers a touch of sweetness that is enough on its own, complementing the tartness of the apples. All in all, delicious.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bobtail Year 2: Strawberry Goat Cheese

July was the second month of Bobtail Year 2, during which I receive two pints of homemade ice cream a month from Bobtail.

• • •

Facebook may have rendered high school reunions obsolete, but certain reunions never go out of style, like when my best friend visited this summer or when I noticed an old friend in the Bobtail freezer. Bobtail's Strawberry Goat Cheese is what put the shop on the map for me, paving the way for numerous other discoveries in their ever-rotating line of new (and often customer-suggested) flavors. Bobtail offers different varieties of Strawberry, including the Chocolate Covered Strawberry I sampled during my first Bobtail Year, but none are as great as this.

Strawberry Goat Cheese is a delicate flavor, balancing tart and sweet into a flavor all its own. It is light, but full-bodied. It is bold, yet sensitive. It is basically your dream boyfriend/girlfriend. If you see this flavor at Bobtail, put a ring on it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pumpkin Rundown

The Ninth Annual Pumpkin Challenge started slow (and late), but ended with me hitting my third highest number yet! (The record remains 52.) Between September 17 and October 31, I consumed 43 varieties of pumpkin foods and liquids.

Milk & Honey's Granola with pumpkin seeds (Rick Bayliss mix)
Homemade Pumpkin pancakes
Einstein Bros' Pumpkin schmear
Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream's Snap-o-lantern ice cream
Homemade Savory Pumpkin quiche
Rick Bayliss' Pumpkin Chipotle Salsa
Homemade Pumpkin-swirl brownies
Do-Rite Donuts Pumpkin Cream Cheese Doughnut
Homemade Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
Cafeteria-made Pumpkin bread pudding with pecan praline sauce
Homemade Pumpkin bread with chocolate chips and pecans

Pachiugo's pumpkin gelato
Trader Joe's Pumpkin spice chai tea latte
Homemade Pumpkin ice cream w/ marshmallows, graham and chocolate
Einstein Bros' Pumpkin walnut crunch bagel
Xoco's Sikil Pak (smooth dip of pumpkin seed, roasted tomato, sour orange and habanero)
Trader Joe's Pumpkin Croissant
Alliance Bakery's Pumpkin Spice Macaron

David's Tea Pumpkin Patch tea
Homemade Pumpkin polenta with sausage, fennel and onion
First Slice's Pumpkin Cheesecake
Homemade No-Churn Cranberry and Pumpkin Swirl ice cream
Trader Joe's Pumpkin Mochi
Food Should Taste Good's Pumpkin Tortilla Chips
Homemade Pumpkin Alfredo tortellini
Homemade Pumpkin waffles
Trader Joe's Pumpkin spice salted caramels
Homemade Pumpkin and coconut soup

You Can Do Better
Pumpkin & caramel kringle
Trader Joe's Pumpkin Jo-Jos (sandwich cookies)
Trader Joe's Pumpkin bagel
Starbucks' Pumpkin cream cheese muffin
Trader Joe's Ginger cookie pumpkin ice cream sandwiches
Trader Joe's Pumpkin cinnamon rolls
Pies by Fasano's Pumpkin pie
Edzo's Pumpkin milkshake

Dunkin' Donuts pumpkin muffin
Trader Joe's Pumpkin seed brittle
Trader Joe's Pumpkin Greek Yogurt
Pumpkin Cornbread
Pumpkin Ginger Compote
Jamba Juice's Pumpkin Smash smoothie
Dunkin Donuts' Pumpkin Pie doughnut