Check out Elliot's latest review of Phin & Phebes Banana Whama with a little insider info from one of the founders of this Brooklyn based company!
Growing up on the Mason Dixon line, I was not quite southern enough to have access to true southern banana pudding. All I can do is try to make up for lost time. The ice cream gods conspired against me this fall as Phin & Phebes became unavailable locally, forcing my hand to order some online via Fresh Direct. I hope this disturbance in the force is resolved in the coming months as local grocers sort out what they’ll carry next spring.
Phin & Phebes is one of just a handful of nationally available brands who choose to do things the hard way. They don’t include gums, thickeners or stabilizers in their ice cream, even “natural ones” like tapioca starch and syrup. It is cheaper and easier to craft a base and duct tape it together with binding agents and thickeners than with just milk, cream and eggs, especially one that stays together on its own, has a decent shelf life and can be produced on a large scale. One of the Phin & Phebes pints I’d found to be habit forming is their Banana Whama flavor. They’ve added a pleasing pudding flavor to a banana base dotted with vanilla wafer pieces. The texture of the 14-15% butterfat base is velvety, not icy or watered down as is the problem with many ice creams featuring fruit. The crumbly wafers remain well textured throughout the pint.
I was able to get a bit of the backstory from Crista of Phin and Phebes on how this flavor came to be : “I grew up in the South and one of my favorite places to eat was this place called Woody's BBQ. Every time we ordered from there I would order like a quart of banana pudding and gobble it up. It was the perfect balance of whipped cream, vanilla wafers and bananas. It was the real homemade deal. I moved away from the South when I was 18, and didn't realize how much I missed banana pudding until I rediscovered it at Magnolia's and Sweet Sugar Sunshine in NYC. They were able to make banana pudding that actually tasted like the stuff I would eat in the South. When making this flavor my obsession for Banana Pudding was reborn and I was literally buying a quart each week for myself to consume. When we starting making ice cream in our home kitchen for fun and playing around with a bunch of different concepts I would make banana pudding myself from scratch, using butter, cream and corn starch. I’d use the homemade banana pudding and pour it into our sweet cream ice cream base. The flavor was awesome and we would sell through it like crazy at markets and fairs, but what we realized when launching our pint business is this not a shelf stable product and that it gets icy over time. So I then set out to reformulate the recipe to what you see today. Jess and I both agree that it is even better than the original concept we made in the past.”
There you have it! A star is born. I love this pint and this brand, and am eager to see what other flavors will be born in Brooklyn.
Where Elliot Found It: Foody Direct
Elliot's Grade: A