July is National Ice Cream month, which officially makes it my favorite month of the year. So, to do my part, I’m eating my way through an increasingly impressive selection of ice cream flavors, both at the supermarket and at ice cream shops. It is but a humble quest, but an important one nonetheless. Call me a patriot.
Yesterday, at my local “overpriced yet good for the local economy because it’s not Whole Foods” specialty retailer, I noticed that Haagen Dazs has really upped the ante on its flavor selection. For a while, I wrote off the brand as being way overrated and as having reached its peak during the frozen yogurt mania of the late 1980s, but I have to give the company kudos.
Two new lines that caught my eye were the Five and Reserve lines, each of which have their own schtick, if you will. The former is made with just five ingredients each, and the latter is, as the website puts it, the company’s “rarest, most exotic flavor collection.” Well, now. Doesn’t that send your inner food snob into a tizzy?
The Five line has a somewhat basic flavor lineup, the most enticing one being ginger (although passionfruit and brown sugar were close runners up) so I threw that into my basket, along with the requisite vanilla bean. I feel that if an ice cream maker can whip up a decent vanilla bean ice cream, that’s a good sign your tastebuds are in the right hands. Sort of like the “pad thai” test when it comes to Thai restaurants.
The Reserve line’s most interesting flavors (that I will most likely go back and buy after I plow my way through the two pints I have now, damn you Haagen Dazs!) are fleur de sel caramel, Hawaiian lehua honey and cream and Brazilian acai berry sorbet.
I acknowledge that HD is probably trying to get into the wallets of foodies, chowhounds and self-proclaimed ice cream connoisseurs, but I’ve gotta say the Five flavors I picked up were better than I thought they’d be–creamy, clean and delicious.
The ginger flavor, though, can’t really compare with other iterations I’ve had at places like Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco (the best). When I eat ginger ice cream, I fully expect a good kick in the tongue–it should be spicy and, yes, it should burn a little, but that’s just the masochist in me talking. You just can’t beat handcrafted ice creams made in small batches. More on that later.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to eat some ginger ice cream. Yes, I realize it’s 9:45am. And no, I don’t particularly give a damn.