Wednesday, October 8, 2014

REVIEW: Elliot's Review of Jeni's Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso

Jeni's Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso is elegant in it's simplicity : Ground Intelligentsia espresso beans steeped in milk and cream. "To make Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso ice cream, we steep roasted and ground Black Cat Espresso beans in grass-grazed Ohio milk. The beans—Intelligentsia’s signature (and most popular) roast—have a rich, complex aroma that super-charges our ice cream with a scent that unfolds slowly." "Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso ice cream is the product of our first full-fledged collaboration with Intelligentsia Coffee. Based in Chicago, Intelligentsia has been at it since 1995, and we’re proud to team up with this band of like-minded men and women united in bringing to the world the finest coffee there is."

I thought this flavor would need complementary flavors and textures. Coffee is a flavor that's really fun to dress up, and plays so well with others. Toffee, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, caramel, the list goes on and on, right? And Jeni's is generally ok with that. Jeni's social media presence touts a sundae featured at their scoop shops : The Calico Cat: Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso, Salty Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Blackout Gravel, and whipped cream. They regularly encourage "cross-pollination" of their flavors, even showing a few suggestions in the form of a "pairs well with" for each of their flavors.

READER REVIEW: Elliot's Review of Phin & Phebes Coconut Key Lime

A bit of pumpkin overload and some mild carotenemia have me ready for a break from fall flavors. Coconut Key Lime by Phin and Phebes (pronounced Finn and Feebs) is the perfect sub-tropical oasis.

The electric green glow of many key lime pie ice creams and desserts never seem to foretell greatness, and is no substitute for well-balanced key lime flavor. As you see in the photos, Coconut Key Lime does not make that attempt to prove its identity.

READER REVIEW: Elliot's Review of Coolhaus Mintimalism Dirty Mint Chip

"Coolhaus co-founders Natasha Case and Freya Estreller started baking cookies, making ice cream, and combining them into "cool houses" in 2008. With mutual backgrounds in the design and real estate fields, they began naming their ice cream sandwiches after architects and architectural movements that inspired them - and eventually decided to take their newfound passion (dubbed "Farchitecture," or Food + Architecture) to their hometown streets in Los Angeles. So after a few days on Craigslist (and some time convincing their families they weren't crazy), they found and bought a beat-up old postal van, trekked out to the world-famous Coachella Valley Music Festival in April 2009 to make their debut, and, well...the rest is history. Now, Coolhaus operates a national fleet of 11 mobile ice cream trucks and carts (5 in Southern California, 3 in NYC, 2 in Austin, and 1 in Dallas).. Fans can also visit Coolhaus at its two Southern California-based storefronts in Culver City and Pasadena, or pick up a pre-packaged ice cream sandwich, pint of ice cream, or hand-dipped ice cream bar at one of 1,500+ gourmet markets in over 40 states."

Coolhaus has taken the country by storm in the past few years. The skeptic in me had been wondering whether or not they were all style and no substance. Since Straub's, a local gourmet market, began carrying five of their prepackaged pints this year, I finally had the opportunity to find out. The pint you see pictured is "Mintimalism : Our signature Dirty Mint Chip ice cream, just fresh mint, brown sugar and semi-sweet chips".

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

REVIEW: Blue Bell Black Walnut

Earlier this spring we received an email from a concerned ice cream consumer and businessman with some personal stake in the Black Walnut, an inspiration that we hadn't encountered yet in our ice cream adventures. We'd kept in mind his recommendation of trying to track down a flavor featuring this particular nut for months and months with no luck. Ironically enough, this past week we received a follow-up email to the one we read months back on the same day that we were able to find Blue Bell's Black Walnut ice cream. As a precursor to our review and to provide some good background knowledge on the subject, here's a tidbit from that second email: 

"I hope your fall season is going well so far. I had contacted you back in the spring about doing a review on Black Walnut ice cream. I wanted to let you know that October would be the perfect month to do a review on the flavor. Besides ice cream, Black Walnuts have primarily been used during the baking and holiday seasons. They are used in all kinds of baking recipes including fudge, brownies, cookies, breads, and many more. Black Walnuts have a very unique flavor, very different than the more well-known English Walnut. Our annual harvest runs through the entire month of October where individuals hand harvest the Black Walnuts in about a 15 state area and bring them to our hulling stations all throughout the Midwestern US. We hear stories all the time of people getting that nostalgic feeling every time they take a bite of Black Walnut ice cream. It brings them back to their childhood of picking them up in the yard or when Grandma would bake Black Walnut cookies. So as you can see, the fall season is the time when people are talking about Black Walnuts the most often. You can find Black Walnuts under many brands including Blue Bell, Kroger, Mayfield, Safeway Select, Prarie Farms, Hiland Dairy, etc. I’m not sure where you are located but you should be able to find the flavor in every state."

READER REVIEW: Derek's Review of Ben & Jerry's Milk & Cookies

The hardest decision I had to make as a child was always whether to eat cookie dough or cookies and cream ice cream. Both flavors had their strengths, but I often found myself yearning for the other halfway through the bowl. As I got older I remedied this problem by simply scooping both, but when first I heard about Ben and Jerry’s Milk and Cookies it seemed as though my lifelong conundrum had been solved. This pint is described as vanilla ice cream with a chocolate cookie swirl, chocolate chip & chocolate chocolate chip cookies. This combination sounds like cookies and cream on steroids and it’s hard to hold back my excitement. I pry off the lid to see what it has to offer.

A few chocolate chip cookie dough bits are visible through the white vanilla base, as well as chocolate that may or may not be the swirl. I start with the vanilla base knowing exactly what to expect. The base is smooth and creamy with subtle vanilla notes that always make this a solid foundation. The vanilla has been infiltrated by little chocolate cookie bits, which combine to form the stereotypical cookies and cream vibe. Given that I did not come here for a standard cookies and cream, I dig into a large piece of chocolate chip cookie dough. I cannot stress how amazing and different this cookie dough is. Unlike the dough found in Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked or regular Cookie Dough, these cookies are extremely chewy, soft and moist. While cookie dough is typically found as perfect spheres with a firm exterior and soft interior, these large oblong-shaped pieces are gooey throughout and more closely resemble homemade raw dough. It’s almost as if I took a whole tube of cut and bake cookie dough straight from the fridge and just started gnawing on it. I see no need to move onto the other two mix-ins, but I do just to be thorough.

Need some ice cream suggestions? Click on what component you're craving for further assistance!

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