Are the old ways the best?
When it comes to ice-cream I’ll admit I’m a traditionalist. Give me an old-fashioned scoop of top notch full fat vanilla and I’m a happy man. I have a special admiration for ingredient-centred cooks, too. We’re talking those guys who take their time and use four ingredients or less… A special mention to micro-business La Grotta Ices here, and Soho establishment Quo Vadis and their perfect melon sorbet. I confess, I wasn’t sure Heston’s egg and bacon version was a good idea when that happened (I was proved wrong there, obviously). I was also ambivalent about green varieties like basil and matcha, when they started cropping up on the menus at Soho House and other places. My view, to be honest, was that unless ice-cream is sweet and indulgent it isn’t the real thing.
Global influences making their mark
Recently though I’ve changed my tune, partly thanks to the appearance of the impossibly glutinous Japanese ice-cream treat mochi. What is this, I hear you cry? Well, hitherto rarely seen on menus outside Japanese restaurants, it’s a small, round dessert ball consisting of a soft, pounded sticky rice cake (mochi) formed around an ice cream filling. It’s probably thanks to Nobu that we’re seeing these around – and I for one am glad of it. Previously mostly appearing as an oddity at new year, these curious (and curiously addictive) little desserts are now on the chic list, as I found out on a recent trip to Kaia, the Ned’s Asian offering.
Hi-tech = top spec
The search for newness in the creation of ice-cream has led chefs to use creative ingredients and techniques – they’re an experimental lot as a whole. Liquid nitrogen saves freezing time, but is also a chef hack as it prevents ice-crystals forming – a real bummer which can happen to even the most experienced gelato maker. Consistency of texture can also be achieved by using products like Ice-Cream Stabiliser, Silk Gel and, my favourite Easy Whip. Our friend Eddie Shepherd gets a mention here, as he had a hand in developing the brand that we stock and has been leading the way in the creative use of the whole range at his sell-out vegan supper clubs. Enjoy!
Mat, KitchenLab UK