Ice cream off the charts

May 16, 2001 at 12:00 am

I have three significant ice cream memories.

1) My dad never used to eat chocolate ice cream without crushing potato chips on top. I still wonder if this is common. 2) I was never allowed to order Superman or bubble gum ice cream like the rest of my friends, because my mom didn’t think it sounded good. Now that I’m all grown-up, I agree with her.

My third ice cream memory is not my own; it’s the café scene in director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s French-language film Bleu. It’s an intense, emotional moment in food cinema when Juliette Binoche artfully dumps her shot of espresso over a scoop of vanilla gelato. The oh-so-elegant European confection is all she can bear to stomach after the recent death of her husband and young daughter.

Ice cream is an indulgence subject to arbitrary and occasionally freakish palates. If you’re feeling daring this summer, try some peculiar flavors. But to be sure, they are recommended only to those of you willing to move beyond Baskin-Robbins’ peppermint stick into more experimental frozen territory. (If you consider fried ice cream exotic, best stick to it.)

Some common Asian ice creams are actually more refreshing than mint chocolate chip. Green tea ice cream is subtly flavored, and it’s perfect as a lightly sweetened finish to a meal. If you relish a more potent cool treat, red bean ice cream is available spicy or mild. Both are sold at many Japanese food stores or restaurants in the metro area. Indian ice cream, kulfi, also comes in a variety of seasonally appropriate flavors; they are customarily blended with tropical fruits and nuts such as mango, papaya, coconut, almond or cashew. In Bruce Weinstein’s Ultimate Ice Cream Book, there’s an alphabetized list of easy and eerie recipes for ice creams — red pepper-pecan praline crunch, plum-tarragon or strawberry-vinegar.Lobster & butter ice cream is a summer specialty at Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Bar Harbor, Maine. To give it a whirl, you’ll have to ship a gallon from the coast (e-mail them at [email protected]) or just puree a grocer’s catch into a carton of vanilla Häagen-Dazs. This flavor probably dips into that sweet-and-salty, chips-and-chocolate concept, which seems to be acceptable in my typical Midwestern household. As featured recently in New York magazine’s “Best of New York” issue, East Coasters are also indulging in sweet corn ice cream, a fanciful dessert served as a side to roasted pears at Orsay restaurant.

As daring as these desserts seem, one might assume they’d taste better than broccoli and cheez ice cream, for which a recipe does actually exist. Check out the Web page This just goes to show that one mustn’t always trust the Web. The anonymous author announces this about the punishing treat: “Cheez will create a hard shell around ice cream, which studies show children like to break.” Thankfully, topping this dessert with anchovies is optional. Topping ice cream with lint is also an option, but that doesn’t mean it tastes good.

Avocado ice cream’s raging in LA. (it’s not meant to be licked from a waffle cone), as well as rhubarb, carrot-beet, asparagus and carrot-chili. When will the raw food and drink craze cease? In Shakespearean times, garlic was thought to be a poison; in some cases of extreme overdose or otherwise incomprehensible culinary concocting, it still is. Even as a side to an entrée, it’s difficult to imagine how garlic ice cream could be good. To be fair, though, many Indian recipes mix sweet spices such as cumin and fennel with garlic seasoning. For nondairy cream-ers: If you have a sweet tooth, you’ve likely already tried brands Tofutti, Rice Dream, Soy Dream, Ice Bean or Mocha Mix, and probably concur that Tofutti’s vanilla almond bark is the best. Maybe it’s just me.

Rebecca Mazzei is a staff writer for the Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]