Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ciao Bella's Holiday Flavors

As a dessert blogger, I am occasionally given free samples, as is the case with the products in this post. My words still represent my true feelings toward these products.

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Having all-but-forsworn the two leading grocery store pint brands (Hรคagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry's) for their drastic slump in quality, I was delighted when Ciao Bella made me aware of their new flavors whipped up for the holidays, especially ones so unlike anything else found in the grocery store freezer. Here are my reviews, in order of preference:

Mulled Apple Cider Sorbetto - Apple cider sorbet is something I order every time I see it--an occasion that is sadly rare--so I was elated to see the flavor popping up in a mass distributed form. Given that sorbets are basically water + sugar + flavor-naming ingredient, it's only natural that this pint is an undiluted punch of apple cider. The only thing lacking here is the texture one hopes to get in a sorbetto; because of the high water content, normal freezers render the sorbetto into an ice block to be chipped away at, rather than the smoothly shoveled sorbettos of gelaterias' temperature-controlled freezers. This isn't always the case with Ciao Bella sorbets, but no matter. This is so good it is earns the patience one needs to scrape until one has a full spoon's worth.

White Chocolate Peppermint Gelato - I generally prefer chocolate mint, but while chocolate mint is delicious, it doesn't scream the holiday season. Ciao Bella went the peppermint route, but not quite full-on peppermint bark. This experiment ran a risk, though, since the margin for error is much smaller with peppermint ice cream; far too easily it can fall into Altoid territory, making it into an unappetizing, higher calorie way to get fresh breath. What Ciao Bella's flavor does, wisely, is toss a snowy white chocolate into the mix. That sweetness added to the base makes the eating more enjoyable, while the burps that follow are still minty and fresh.

Almond Nougat Gelato - The most unique of the flavors, the effect of this gelato reminded me of pistachio ice cream. It is a light flavor with diced nut pieces sprinkled sparingly throughout. It is more creamy than nutty. For fans of subtle ice cream or folks who often find American desserts to be too sweet, this is the grocery-store gelato for you. It is delicious, so much so that fans of sweeter desserts may accidentally down the whole pint in one sitting. Whoops.

Ciao Bella makes numerous other flavors year-round, including one of my Freezer Favorites, their Blood Orange sorbetto.