Aug 29, 2008

From Sausage & Mash To Wensleydale Cheese - New Ice Cream

"Ice Cream Is Art" - a bold statement by any standards but when it comes from a true master of ice cream making, you had better believe it.

Gino Soldan is a master gelatiere with many years of experience in making top quality ice cream, especially unusual ice cream and today he offered me a wonderful insight into his passion for ice cream making. Gino kindly agreed to an exclusive interview with me about the exciting new range of ice cream flavors which he has produced for Morelli's ice cream parlor at the world renowned Harrod's department store in central London. Exclusive to the store and available to enjoy for just 3 days only (August 28-30) are 20 new flavors are based on Britain's most famous and popular foods - both savory and sweet.

Sausage & Mash (fried sausage and mashed potato) for example is a popular, traditional British meal as is Lancashire Hotpot (an oven baked pot of meat, onion and potatoes). In Scotland they enjoy Haggis (mutton minced with oatmeal, onion, spices and suet) and Arbroath Smokie (smoked haddock) whilst in Wales a popular dish is Welsh Rarebit (a savory sauce made from cheese and other ingredients such as Worcestershire Sauce, mustard or ale, served hot on top of slices of toast).

All these 5 great British meals are on the list of the special, new 20 ice cream flavors at Morelli's in Harrods but the one that sounds most appealing to me is Wensleydale Cheese ice cream. Gino admitted in our interview that it's one of his favorites.

For anyone who has not tasted Wensleydale Cheese ... well, you should. It's delicious! It is a rich, creamy cheese from Yorkshire, made famous in recent years by Wallace & Gromit in their award-winning, short animation films. Here's a wonderful reference to Wensleydale cheese from 'A Close Shave' :

Wallace: Won't you come in? We were just about to have some cheese.

Wendolene: Oh no, not cheese. Sorry. Brings me out in a rash. Can't stand the stuff.

Wallace: [gulp] Not even Wensleydale?

Wonderful stuff!

Look out for my interview with Gino Soldan on coming soon.

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Aug 25, 2008

Ice Cream Sundae On Holiday

Enjoying an ice cream sundae is something you can do anywhere - at home, in town, at a friend's house, at a party, etc. However, an ice cream sundae on holiday always seem that bit extra special.

We all like ice cream in my family and my husband has a particular penchant for chocolate ice cream. On a recent, lovely short holiday we went to an ice cream parlor and there my son and I enjoyed a delicious cone whilst watching my husband eat one of the richest ice cream sundaes I've ever seen.

Served in a beautiful ice cream dessert glass with lashings of whipped cream and chocolate sauce, it was topped off with a ferrero rocher chocolate and heart-shaped wafer. Not only that but look at the spoon in the photograph .... it was the coolest ice cream spoon I've ever seen!. With a most delicately twisted, elegant bend in the middle, it gives the ice cream eater the chance to take a break and place it on the edge of the dish where it balances perfectly. What a neat idea!

I was so taken by that spoon that I got to talking to Daniela behind the counter of the San Remo Gelataria where we were eating that night. She told me how ice cream making is her passion too and that all the ice cream they serve is made on the premises. I couldn't resist asking about the spoons and told her I'd never seen any like these before. Daniela explained that there were indeed very difficult to get hold of. I so much wanted to take one home to add to my collection of ice cream spoons (I've quite a few now) that I offered to buy one but she refused any payment, just smiled and gave it me for free. So thanks to Daniela I now have a very special addition to my collection.

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Aug 18, 2008

Hairdressing, ICT & Ice Cream

Like most people I have to get my hair cut once in a while and this week I paid one of my regular visits to see Naomi who cuts my hair for me. She's been cutting it for a couple of years now I suppose and she's very good. She's always friendly and we usually enjoy a good chat. The other day was no exception. She was explaining how the salon had just changed its range of hair colorants and how she is getting used to using them. Apparently, it's all done by numbers and she has to try and match a client's color from the previous range to the new one. We agreed it's a bit like a recipe, having to get the right balance of ingredients so that the end result is just right. That was it ... we only had to mention the word 'recipe' and I started talking about ice cream!

After that we indulged in discussing our favorite ice cream flavors. It was the end of Naomi's working day and I was the last client there so I felt at ease developing the conversation. Katie, who had just washed my hair, then joined in the discussion. We all agreed we love ice cream yet found out that it's for very different flavors.

Same thing happened when I was ordering a new handset for the office telephone system the next day. I rang Gary who had last helped me with our telephones 3 years ago. I half expected to hear that he had moved on as is so often the case with people these days. But no ... he was still there, much to my delight for Gary is a fantastic ICT (information and communications technology) field sales consultant, knowledgeable, efficient and courteous. In a matter of minutes he had sorted my problem and I said I would write about his efficiency on my ice cream blog, but only if he told me his favorite flavor. He had little hesitation in saying 'chocolate'.

Many people I've talked to over the years have told me they like chocolate ice cream. It's amazingly popular .... and it's not difficult to understand why. If you make it with a rich custard base and use real chocolate it's absolutely delicious!

So thank you Naomi, Katie and Gary for providing me with a greater insight into people's ice cream tastes. I find I can never guess what ice cream somebody is going to say they like so I enjoy finding out whenever the opportunity crops up. I wonder who's next ? :)

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Aug 15, 2008

Big Ice Cream Cones!

Anyone who loves ice cream will enjoy an ice cream cone. It might be a straight strawberry ice cream cone or a vanilla ice cream cone with strawberry sauce swirled on top; it might even be a multiple scoop cone with lots of different flavors! The funny thing is that all of these ice cream cone variations can be seen in a larger than life way - as giant ice cream cones used for displays.

Whenever I'm out and about I keep my eyes open for these; you can usually find them outside ice cream kiosks and ice cream parlors.

On a recent trip to Zandvoort in the Netherlands I couldn't believe my eyes - within the space of a few hundred yards I counted 6 (six) beautiful giant ice cream cones and every one of them different! 4 were outside fast food kiosks that also served ice cream and the remaining 2 were outside Zandvoort's beloved ice cream parlors. Out came the camera of course. Of all the photos we took, my favorite is the polar bear with the 2 scoop ice cream cone who sits happily outside the San Remo Gelataria in Zandvoort (photo). He's holding a giant cone of chocolate ice cream, pistachio ice cream and whipped cream on top! Click here to see a other photos of ice cream in Zandvoort.

And you can't visit the San Remo and not eat an ice cream! We enjoyed some truly wonderful ice cream there - all homemade from what I'm told too. Some great photos and an inside scoop of a story (forgive the pun) to follow soon including a picture of one of the best ice cream spoons I've ever seen!

In fact there should be 2 or 3 more articles to follow shortly about ice cream in Zandvoort. I've just seen the photos we took and can't believe just how many ice cream associations there were on that trip. Maybe that's why I love the place so much!

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Aug 9, 2008

Fresh Coffee & Coffee Ice Cream

A cup of freshly ground coffee can make the world of difference to your day. It can perk you up and lift your spirits like nothing else. There again ice cream, especially freshly homemade ice cream, can do pretty much the same thing; but have you ever put the two things together? Well I have and fresh coffee ice cream is a winner!

The key to the success of the recipe lies in one thing – using a good quality, freshly ground coffee. The better the coffee the better the ice cream will taste. There are many types of coffee to choose from of course; I tend to go for Costa Rica coffee. Costa Rica started producing coffee beans in the 1790’s and within 30 years was exporting its coffee to Columbia and Chile. Exports further afield followed with shipping consignments of Costa Rican coffee beans going directly to London by the 1850’s. The history of Costa Rican Coffee is fascinating and the link provides a lot more information if you’re interested. There are also lots of coffee suppliers online supplying quality coffees - from caffeinated to decaffeinated and all different kinds of roasts. Check out the Coffee Section in the Ice Cream Recipes Online Store.

Whilst reading up on coffee I came across a great website about coffee pots – real ‘larger than life’ ones that you can actually drive to see for yourself. There’s a coffee pot shaped night club, a coffee pot shaped gas station and even a water tower coffee pot. Some really interesting photos!

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Aug 4, 2008

Ice Cream Making & Ice Making At Home

As everyone who reads my website knows, I have a passion for making ice cream at home. I even have 2 different kinds of ice cream maker - both are electric but one freezes as it batches allowing me to make a traditional fairly frozen ice cream and the other is one of an increasingly popular type of machine which produces more of a gelato (semi-frozen) ice cream. My latter ice cream maker even has compartments for sprinkles, an ice cream cone holder and a lever for dispensing the ice cream when it's ready. It's like having my own little ice cream parlor. Experimenting with ice cream mixtures has never been more fun!

My kitchen has other machines in it of course - for making anything from bread to ice. My ice maker is a small, light and portable ice maker, ideal for home use. It doesn't make ice cubes but rather ice nuggets. See photo for the shape of them. It's really handy whenever I want fresh ice in a reasonable quantity. Also I don't have to worry about making space in the freezer to try and produce a few ice cubes from a tray of water.

I also have one of those mini chocolate fountains - great for parties and get-togethers. In fact, when I come to think of it, all the machines I've just talked about could be used in one fell swoop for a summer party - homemade ice cream and dipping chocolate (with fruit) for desserts and freshly made ice for all the drinks. All we need now is the sunshine!

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