Saturday, May 18, 2013

REVIEW: Phin & Phebes Vanilla Cinnamon

As I stood scanning over all the selections inside the Styrofoam cooler I had just received from Phin & Phebes, perhaps the least exciting sounding of them all came wrapped in red. This pint of Vanilla Cinnamon sounded rather uneventful and features the simple combination of vanilla ice cream with Vietnamese Cinnamon. According to the duo from Brooklyn, “We wanted to make a vanilla ice cream that was, well…not so “vanilla.” The Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cinnamon in this two-fold bourbon vanilla ice cream steals the show. Enjoy by the spoonful or with an espresso or on top of warm apple pie and call it a day.” After reading their mission with this flavor, it seems Phin & Phebes has the intention of putting another unique twist on a classic. While I’ve had cinnamon infused ice creams in the past, I’ve yet to see anyone utilize the Vietnamese version (also known as Saigon cinnamon).

According to Wiki, this Southeast Asia indigenous spice has the highest concentration of essential oils compared to the other cinnamons, and as a result, costs more than the rest. From 1959 to 1975 during the Vietnam War, this was unavailable in the United States, but luckily for us Phin & Phebes goes the extra mile to secure some of the best cinnamon available for their ice cream. This base-only offering comes in at 240 calories per serving, enough to ensure that this ice cream will have a thick consistency to showcase all the complex flavors involved. After taking off the top, the first layer is a beige color and shows plenty flecks of the aforementioned Vietnamese Cinnamon. Despite the density, my spoon scoops out the base with ease.

My first taste of Vanilla Cinnamon is packed full of complex flavors that I hadn’t initially expected. The front end is loaded with mild hints of bourbon and plenty of the sweet vanilla mentioned in the description; a combination not commonly found. Then, slowly but surely, the Vietnamese Cinnamon comes into play as the sweetness of the bourbon-infused vanilla is ushered out. Each bite finishes with a burst of the aromatic, flavorful spice. By effectively balancing out the flavors, and using unique ingredients, Phin & Phebes has found a way to make their vanilla, well…not so vanilla. Although this may not appeal as much to the vanilla bean purists, they've created a new favorite of mine.

Where I Found It: Phin & Phebes Shipment (also available here)
Grade: A

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