As Cold As Ice
Meet 2016's new wave of ice creams. It's time for a double scoop of mint choc-chip to melt away in favour of more experimental concoctions from Britain's vanguard makers
Would you dare to try a squid ink ice cream? Or how about a turmeric sorbet? From superfood scoops to savoury numbers, there has never been a better time to savour such idiosyncratic treats. While simple ice cream will always be one of the irresistible pleasures of summer, old favourites like vanillaare being rivalled by a host of unique and whacky new flavours.
In Essex’s Leigh-on-Sea, Lucy and Joe Donnelly run Poco Gelato, using traditional techniques from their great grandfather Massimiliano Rossi, who brought ice cream to the area in 1932. Signatures include orange and fennel seed anise cream and apricot, bay leaf sorbet. London’s top chefs, including Anna Hansen of The Modern Pantry and Tom Oldroyd of Oldroyd serve up their saporous creams and sorbets. ‘We’ve come up with six exclusive flavours for The Modern Pantry; turmeric yogurt sorbet is amazing (if we say so ourselves) and so is tamarind miso caramel ripple,’ says Joe. The creations are classic examples of the new-gen ice cream, marrying piquancy with craftsmanship. ‘It’s important to us to use organic milk and no unnatural ingredients. We’ve no lurid colours in our display freezer.’
Tinkering with a chia seed and chocolate cake at the Grain Store restaurant in London’s King’s Cross, chef Bruno Loubet now has a blood orange and pink peppercorn ice cream to serve alongside. Meanwhile in Leeds, Northern Bloc’s churns can be found from Newcastle’s Fenwick Food Hall to delis across Yorkshire. As with the others, their mantra is ‘natural’. They rustle up fresh ices such as beetroot gelato. ‘It has the most amazing vibrant, deep pinky purple colour,’ says Liena Wright of Northern Bloc. Unusual spices feature too. ‘Parkin is a regionally famous cake but we thought it would make a unique ice cream flavour. We used spices used in classic parkin, such as cinnamon, and added our own blend, including masala’
But it’s not all vegetables and spices in ices for 2016. There’s an element of kitsch emerging among these experimentalists. The extravagant Sundae, once adored in the 1980s, is at the height of food fashion, for example. Not only will you find it at places like Poco Gelato – they serve sundaes in their shop, strawberry and brown sugar meringue being a foodie favourite – but at institutions like Fortnum and Mason’s new dapper restaurant, 45 Jermyn St, in London.
At the latter, the Knickerbocker Glory is one of its highlights. And there is a menu dedicated to 1950s-style ice cream floats. Gone are the syrupy concoctions with more E additives than a wham bar, these are the height of sophistication. Inspired by childhood favourites, the No.14 has been rustled up in the spirit of rhubarb and custard boiled sweets, made with East London gin, Mondino Amaro (a rhubarb and bitter orange flavoured liqueur) and rhubarb ripple ice cream. Another, No.12, evokes the comforting joy you get from slurping the bottom of your cereal bowl. Expect a glass of cornflake ice cream with brown butter syrup and four roses Bourbon.
General manager, Matthew Maynard explains, ‘We like to express the fun of the original sugar rush floats and sodas from the 50s.’ For millennials, his ice creams offer a nostalgic but classy glimpse of the psychedelic past. ‘Our alcoholic floats with lashings of ice cream are great to share with friends, or as a perfect pick-me-up apéritif.’
Finally, for the newest modish ice cream to arrive this side of the pond, look no further than the just opened Xiringuito (pronounced chi-rin-gito), in Tracey Emin’s beloved Margate, already causing a frisson. The moveable restaurant, from friends Conor Sheehan and chef Jackson Berg (both ex Bistrotheque, the fashionista’s favourite dining space in East London), has a menu cluttered with sexy frozen desserts like ice cream sarnies and alcoholic granitas. The pièce de résistance? Pastry chef Julia Howe’s ice cream tacos. You heard it here first.
Ice Cream Spots to Scream About
Ginger’s rhubarb sorbet rippled with ndali vanilla hits the spot. gingerscomfortemporium.com
Poco Gelato is the go-to place for creative ice creams. pocogelato.com
Xiringuito’s menu includes ice cream sarnies and tacos. Really. xiringuito.co.uk
Affogato is the place to try hand-crafted Gelato. affogatogelato.co.uk