Ice Cream Lover strategies

31 Oct

We received this comment today, so I thought I’d answer here.

“Good to hear all of your European ice cream adventures. What I would like to know is how the cultural differences impact the taste of the ice cream. Do you find that there is a difference, or vanilla just vanilla everywhere? Is there one flavor that you followed across countries? Is that even possible? Do you find you are gaining weight with all this ice cream tasting? What is your process between tastes (do you gargle with water or bite into crackers)? Have you had all three of you taste one flavor to compare, or do you all each get a different flavor for variety of opinions? Can you give advice for choosing ice cream for those stuck with American flavors? Of course I have never had anything better than Blue Bell, but it is only the best ice cream in the country (maybe not the world).


To begin, there are differences in the same flavors, not only country to country, but even shop to shop. The one flavor we followed everywhere (and plan to continue following) was chocolate. Where available, it was dark chocolate. You really can’t go wrong with chocolate, after all! As you can see from my Top 3 post (and Bethany’s comment) Florence was the winner here, as it was in general. For one thing, dark chocolate was more widely available there than elsewhere, but it was also richer there than anywhere else.

Our usual method was for each of us to get a cup of two flavors, then for all of us to sample every flavor. Bottled water was our preferred palate cleanser, as we had it with us at all times. Occasionally there would be disagreement as to which flavor was best, or which shop’s chocolate was best, but overall we were in remarkable agreement. I’m not a huge tiramisu fan, while Bethany and Dawn are, so they’d rate that flavor higher (I believe they gave high honors to Gelateria Millenium in Rome for that one) while I was a particular fan of chocolate-cherry (amarena). That’s why we needed one flavor as a standard–good old chocolate!

One lovely thing about Europe, when it comes to massive ice cream tasting, is all the walking!  We discovered that the walking we did more than compensated for the additional calories, once we got home to the dreaded bathroom scale. Who would have predicted that gallivanting around Europe eating ice cream could be so healthy? We highly recommend it!

As for ice cream in the US, we haven’t done nearly as extensive research (yet). I have to agree that Blue Bell (available only in Texas, alas–unless someone knows otherwise?) is the best store-bought ice cream I’ve had here. Hand-dipped is generally better than store-bought, of course, though quality can vary enormously. Bethany is a fan of Cold Stone Creamery, where you can have your ice cream customized with add-ins. Maggie Moo’s is another, similar chain.  Until we can get back to Europe for more research on the book, we’ll content ourselves with researching (and posting about) local favorites.  Watch this space!

–Brenda 🙂


Posted by on October 31, 2007 in chocolate, europe, food, ice cream, italy, travel, writing


5 responses to “Ice Cream Lover strategies

  1. Trey O'Neale

    October 31, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Brenda, I love the subject matter and am an Ice Cream connoisseur myself (unfortunately, my wasteline confirms this). BTW, Blue Bell is available in a number of states outside of Texas. In fact, it’s made in at least 2 other states. Blue Bell arrived here in North Carolina 2 years ago and I’m doing my part to keep it here 🙂

    I’m also a bit of a purist. Cold Stone and Maggie Moos have what I consider to be poor ice cream. The ice cream isn’t what you go there for – it’s the experience, and the concoction you help create.

  2. Michael Taglienti

    November 1, 2007 at 12:29 am

    What I really want to know is whether you tasted anything that was better than Bluebell ice cream?

  3. Brenda

    November 1, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Michael, much as I’ve loved Bluebell, nothing store-bought in the states
    can come close to the handmade gelato in Italy, especially in Florence.
    Seriously, it’s a whole different standard in ice cream, in both flavor
    and texture! But I will concede that Bluebell is the best store-bought
    ice cream I’ve had (so far–research continues!)
    –Brenda 🙂

  4. Joel

    November 4, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Thanks for the answers to the questions. The Florence ice cream must be really yummy. I wonder what they do to make it so good. Could be a trade secret.

  5. Lowdean Greer

    June 3, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    I LOVE Lemon Custard Ice cream, why do you not have it in the Temple grocery stores?


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