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Category Archives: food

Gelato on the high seas

Bethany and I just got back from a lovely seven night cruise aboard the Celebrity Solstice. Among other delights (like fabulous food All Day Long and dancing into the wee hours) we discovered a real, honest-to-goodness gelateria aboard the ship! Of course, we couldn’t ignore such a  wonderful research opportunity, so we sampled the chocolate and the raspberry and discovered (cue angelic choir) that it was every bit as good as most Italian gelato we’ve tried! Okay, maybe not QUITE up to Florentine standards, but really, really excellent.

So, if the prospect of relaxing aboard a gorgeous ship in the balmy Caribbean and being served sumptuous meals every day, combined with way cool shore excursions like ziplining through the Puerto Rican rain forest and snorkeling off a sailboat in St. Thomas doesn’t tempt you, this exquisite gelato definitely should! The worst thing about a cruise?

It ends.

Can’t wait to do it again sometime!

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2010 in caribbean, chocolate, food, gelato, ice cream, travel

 

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Excellent Indiana Ice Cream

Okay, so I didn’t get to go to Europe with Beth for research this time around, but after she got back we did take a trip to northern Indiana (partly for some other book research for me) and on the way home we made a stop at Fair Oaks Farm for their famous ice cream and cheeses. It’s right along I-65, maybe an hour from Chicago. Coming from Chicago, you can’t miss the billboards! “Our Whine Cooler” (with a picture of ice cream) and “We Dairy You to Stop” among others.

The cheesiness of their billboards aside, I can unequivocally say that their reputation is well deserved. The mint chocolate chip ice cream may have been the creamiest I have EVER tasted, and that’s saying quite a lot. The chocolate was also very, very good. Bethany got the butter pecan and the peach and those were exceptional as well.

Then there’s the cheese. We bought some to take home and the Butterkase in particular is divine. We also had grilled cheese sandwiches while there–I had the Havarti with pepper and Beth had the cheddar. Both were lovely and exactly what we wanted for a light-enough lunch to leave room for ice cream.

If you have kids along, there’s even Mooville, their outdoor playground… and even without kids, I confess we couldn’t resist jumping on the enormous “Dairy Air jumping pillow.” So if you find yourself a bit peckish while driving I-65 between Lafayette, IN and Chicago, this place is well worth a stop.

fairoaks

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2009 in food, ice cream, Indiana

 

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A new challenge!

I know I’ve been terribly remiss in posting here. Bethany is away for the summer, performing at Festival 56 in Princeton, IL, and traveling around sampling ice cream just isn’t as much fun alone. But today’s Indianapolis Star had an article (Cool Scoops) that has lit a new fire under me! I’m determined to try as many of these places/flavors as possible and report back. Since most of them are practically in my back yard, I can’t make excuses. And who wants to make excuses to NOT eat ice cream, anyway?

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2008 in food, ice cream, indianapolis

 

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Ice cream in Japan

After a week in Japan, touring Tokyo and Kyoto, I think we can definitively say that Japan has many wonderful things–kai ten sushi, karaoke, Buddhist temples that are over 1000 years old–but ice cream isn’t its strongest suit.

We started tasting in Kyoto with some Sakura (cherry blossom) and matcha (green tea) hand-dipped ice cream near the Kiyomizu-dera temple. Nice, but nothing to write home about. A day later we tried another place nearby (we were staying at a bed & breakfast near that temple) and it was better. The black beans and mochi are an interesting addition. I liked it better than Bethany did. (I’m not naming these places because the names were in kanji and even Dawn couldn’t tell me what it meant–sorry!)

After seeing lots and lots of soft-serve places, we finally decided we’d better try that, since that seemed to be more of a specialty. And yes, that was quite good! If you go, do try the soft-serve.  The place we tried in Uji (a short train ride from Kyoto) was particularly good. Uji is famous for its green tea, and the matcha-flavored soft-serve was excellent.

We only ran across one place that advertised gelato, the coffee shop at the top of the government building in Shinjuku (in Tokyo). Fabulous 360 degree views, but the gelato? Um, let’s just say the strawberry cake was much better. Ice crystals and not a lot of chocolate flavor.

In summary, if you visit Japan, make sure to visit a kai-ten sushi place. That’s where little plates of sushi travel all around the restaurant on a long conveyor belt. You sit on a stool and snag whatever strikes your fancy, then pay at the end according to the plates you’ve accumulated. Fun, inexpensive and very tasty!  And do try Japanese karaoke if you’re with a group. Unlike American karaoke, you and your friends get a private little room and only embarrass yourselves in front of each other, instead of a room full of strangers. Tip: Nomi Houdai means “all you can drink.”

And if you get to Uji, try the matcha soft-serve ice cream!

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2008 in food, gelato, ice cream, japan, travel

 

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A Midwestern Treasure!

I’d been hearing good things about FARMbloomington, a locally-owned restaurant in downtown Bloomington that boasts a diverse menu of organic and locally grown foods. But not until last week did I finally have the chance to check it out for myself.  Five of us stopped by after a show (Beth’s show, which was fabulous–but that’s a different topic) for drinks and dessert.  Beth had been there once before and said the ice cream was wonderful. (Yes, she should have blogged about it then!)  With five of us, of course we ordered five different desserts and everyone tasted everything.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I’ll start by saying that ice cream does not have to be gelato to be outstanding! Okay, we already knew that from Berthillon’s in Paris, but FARMbloomington’s chocolate ice cream is every bit as good and a whole lot more accessible from the midwest!  For vanilla lovers, the vanilla was just as exceptional. Smooth, creamy, very, very flavorful.

Moving beyond ice cream, the apple pie (okay, with ice cream) was fresh, warm and excellent. The carrot cake was one of the best I’ve tasted. The coffee ice with vanilla ice cream was something different, but also very good. And the red velvet cake was as velvety as the name suggests and very chocolatey.

This place isn’t cheap, mind you–desserts ranged from $6 – $9 and the drinks from $5 – $9– but taken in the light of an experience instead of just “drinks and dessert,” well worth the price and the drive.  Highly recommended!

 
 

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Gelato in Indiana!

Yes, it’s true!  We heard about it a little while ago, but scarcely dared to believe it.  Finally, this weekend, we drove up to Clay Terrace in Carmel to check out Gelato Da Vinci ourselves.  And it’s twoo, it’s twoo!  Perhaps not up to Florentine standards, but perfectly passable gelato, right here in Indiana. How exciting is that?

We had to try the chocolate, of course, as that’s our standard. Not the best we’ve had, of course, but not the worst, either (and this is compared to gelato around Italy, so “not the worst” is actually pretty high praise). We also tried the rose (not as intense as Fenoccio’s, but not bad at all), the “love affair” (Tia Maria and coconut) and the “Italian kiss” (bacio, which is basically nutella). But the standout was the creme brulee. Excellent! Definitely a flavor to go back for.

Afterward, we tried a scoop of the blueberry sorbet, mostly out of curiousity, and it was okay, but if I hadn’t seen the sign, I might have guessed it was raspberry.

Clearly we’ll need to go back for further research–though if anyone knows of any other gelaterias in Indiana, please share!

–Brenda 🙂

 
 

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Research update

Beth here.

I’ve been working hard to meet my ice cream quota despite the cold weather and have a few things to relate. First off, store-bought ice-cream is usually a last resort, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Secondly, if you’re going to go store-bought, the little containers are usually your best bet. These ratings are based on a scale of store-bought ice cream–if we were comparing this stuff to gelato (say, Il Grand Duca in Florence being a five), none of these would rate over a two…

Test #1: Dove ice cream.
Rating: Three stars.
The best part is that there’s a layer of solid chocolate over the top of the ice cream that you have to hack through with a spoon. Now this could be seen as a detriment if you’re really desperate to get to the ice cream… but the chocolate (particularly the dark chocolate, in my opinion… but we all know I’m biased) is quite good. The ice cream is not bad either, for store bought. I tried the raspberry chocolate flavor and was pretty happy while it lasted.

Test #2: Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
Rating: Four stars.
The best store-bought ice cream I’ve found so far. Not quite as good as the ice cream you’ll get made fresh at a Ben & Jerry’s store, but close. Very creamy, awesome flavors. In the past two weeks I’ve had a pint of Phish Food (always a favorite… VERY chocolatey, and excellent for putting you in a better mood) and the Dublin Mudslide (Irish Cream flavored with swirls of fudge–also quite nice). More to follow…

Test #3: Homemade Ice Cream
Rating: Three stars
Despite the oxymoronic name, pretty good ice cream. The mint chocolate chip is among the best (for that flavor) of any store-bought brands, and I just finished a carton of the Turtle Sundae… I don’t know if it was a mixing error in my carton, or what, but ALL of the caramel was at the very top, so you kind of had to dig through it to get to the ice cream… which was actually kind of awesome–made it more like a sundae.

I’m gonna go out and get some Hagen Daas (though from previous experience I know it’s decent but nowhere near as good as when you get it fresh from an ice cream stand in Germany…) and do some more research. Anybody have suggestions for other brands I should try?

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2008 in chocolate, food, gelato, ice cream, travel, Uncategorized

 

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