The late-night snack I want next

April 4th, 2011

When I visited the U.S. last year, I brought home 14 pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Not bags, not makeup, not clothes. I kid you not; it was the only thing I wanted to take home (did my shopping in Berlin before then anyway), and I did all sorts of research and logistics planning to be able to pull that stunt off. Getting past Homeland Security with a boxful of dry ice is no joke, and Ben & Jerry’s is available in Manila—but in limited flavors and quantities.

I saw this blog entry about some of their new flavors from last year, and believe me, they’re seriously good. Worth all the trouble of hauling 14 pints halfway around the world, that’s for sure. The Boston Cream Pie and Peanut Brittle flavors alone.. oh man. Anyway, while looking through their Spring 2011 new flavors (Red Velvet Cake, Clusterfluff, Bonaroo Buzz, and Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night Snack), I did a double take on the last one.

Late Night Snack is a jam-packed pint of vanilla bean ice cream with a salted caramel swirl and fudge-covered potato chip clusters. Can someone get me some of this? I’d fly to the U.S. and take home some of it if I could, but it looks like it’ll have to wait until I get to New York!

Scream for ice cream

September 10th, 2010

Gelato from Giolitti in Rome. Pope John Paul II supposedly loved their marrons glaces flavor and had some delivered to his residence (i.e., the Vatican). When I read that, I knew I had to check it out.

If there’s one thing I have to try in every country I visit, it’s ice cream. The best I’ve ever had was from Il Gelato di San Crispino in Rome, which carries a heavenly meringue-and-hazelnut gelato that I still dream about sometimes, plus a delicate honey-flavored one that would be Impressionism personified in an ice cream cup (I heard ‘Clair de Lune’ in my head when I ate it).

There are actually some decent ice creams in Manila (Gelatissimo in Greenbelt 5 is good, and Sebastian’s Ice Cream usually hits the spot; I also like Haagen-Dazs and FIC for commercial brands), but none really made me go over the moon until today.

After doing a photo shoot in Hotel Celeste’s Restaurant CiÇou, one of the servers offered me some ice cream. “We have mixed berries, ma’am,” one said. For some reason, mixed berries ice cream reminded me of FIC’s unfortunate sugar-free version (seriously, just skip it because it tastes flat; they can’t even legally call it ice cream, so it’s dubbed “frozen dessert”), so I asked about the other flavors.

“Vanilla, green tea, and salted caramel,” he responded.

“Salted caramel?” My eyes lit up.

Let me explain something first: I’m mildly obsessed with salted caramel. I tried making it at home and it was okay, but I’m the only one who likes caramel in my immediate family. Early this year, I got a box of Fran’s Salted Caramels from my aunt, who got them from a friend in Seattle. The Obamas and Ina Garten (of Barefoot Contessa fame) are said to love their gray smoked salted caramels covered with dark chocolate, which taste of fresh butter with a hint of the sea. Absolutely delicious.

I took this photo of Fran's Salted Caramels while I was waiting for my food in a New York deli (clearly, I didn't want to let go of my stash)

So when I heard about Restaurant CiÇou’s salted caramel ice cream, I knew I had to have a scoop. About a month earlier, I tried their salted caramels (prettily served on a slate) and was impressed, but that experience didn’t prepare me for my encounter with the ice cream. The texture was smooth and solid—no air bubbles—so the ice cream didn’t melt easily, despite the afternoon heat. It was even better than eating an actual salted caramel: without the task of having to chew on the candy, I was able to focus on the complex flavors of butter and cream, accentuated with just a touch of sea salt.

I don’t know what other places offer excellent ice cream, but I’m pretty darned sure that I had just tried the best ice cream in Manila. At 100 pesos for two sorbetes-sized scoops, it isn’t exactly cheap, but I’d rather spend on a small, high-quality portion than a gallon of sugary, air-filled ice cream—believe me when I say that you’ll be hard-pressed to find better versions.

(Day 29, 30-Day Blog Challenge)